Members of a divided and unenthusiastic Lambeth council planning committee last night voted by four to two to back an application to demolish the building that currently houses the Superdrug store in central Brixton and to build a six-storey budget hotel on the site.
Superdrug will return to the site, but councillors on the committee accepted the advice of officers that they had no legal ability to stop developers replacing the SW9 bar at the back of the site that has been a vital part of the Brixton scene for more than 20 years.
After the vote, residents living near the proposed hotel – who will be affected in the short term by massive building work in a confined and busy area – repeated their charge that they had not been properly consulted on the plans, if at all.
They plan to continue their opposition to the development which, in the long term, threatens more traffic problems and possible night-time noise.
Papers considered by councillors, which included an update to the number of objections to the plan, were available online only after 4.30pm on the same day as the meeting which began at 7pm.
Objectors told the committee: “We, local residents on Nursery and Tunstall Roads, Bernays and Shannon Groves, Pullross and Bellefields Roads, Stockwell Avenue and Ferndale Road, have NOT been properly consulted.”
Local residents are already kept awake at night by buskers in the early hours and club-goers returning to the nearby Tube station to get the night tube at weekends.
Now, as one councillor pointed out, guests of a 96-room budget hotel without its own bar and some of its basement rooms without windows, will be turning out of gigs at the Academy and elsewhere with little incentive to go quietly to bed.
Committee chair Claire Wilcox, who proposed acceptance of the application, expressed the mood by saying: “I’m aware that if we had been in the position of choosing applications, this might not be the application we would have chosen.
“However, we are here this evening thinking about the application that is in front of us, rather than one we might have dreamed up ourselves.”
Earlier, Cllr Nigel Haselden had said that “Brixton deserves better” than the application, but he was one of four members of the committee who supported its approval.
The one item that the committee did agree to was to “encourage” the developers to consult ward councillors on traffic management.
One of the three Ferndale ward councillors, Paul McGlone, a deputy leader of the council, had earlier addressed the committee. He said that consultation on the scheme had been “just not good enough”.
Saying that he had worked for ten years as a senior hotel manager in Australia, he repeated concerns he had expressed earlier and stressed those relating to Nursery Road at the rear of the development which must be used by all traffic connected with the hotel.
Councillors Joanne Simpson (Labour, Prince’s ward) and Mohammed Seedat (Labour, Streatham Wells) voted against granting planning permission.
Councillors Clair Wilcox (Labour, Streatham South); Luke Murphy (Labour, Gipsy Hill); Nigel Haselden (Labour, Clapham Town); and Malcolm Clark, (Labour Streatham Wells) voted in favour.