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Neighbours keep watchful eye on work at former nurses hostel in Primrose Hill

Conservation group says they will oppose any attempt to use flats for Air-BNB style lettings

02 August, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Vernon House

PLANNING chiefs have been urged to ensure that a hostel for key workers in Primrose Hill is not converted into flats which are out of reach of the low-paid or ripe for Airbnb-style lettings.

Vernon House, in St Mark’s Square, was until recently home to nurses working for The London Clinic in Marylebone. The New Journal reported in December last year how they were forced to leave when the clinic decided to sell the accommodation. The building is now in the hands of SAV Group, a property company working on housing projects in London, which has filed a planning application for a new “communal garden room”.

Several neighbours have already objected to the new structure in letters to Camden’s planning department, raising worries that it will act as a noisy meeting place for people using more than 60 flats inside the block.

The new garden room could be “likened to having a 24-hour pub at the back of one’s garden”, said one. The SAV Group’s promotional material says the block is being prepared to be used as 64 rental apartments, although the type of tenure or expected cost for tenants is unknown. “We would vigorously oppose any change in use from that permitted, for example if the new owner started to rent rooms on a nightly or short-term basis or to visitors to London through Airbnb or similar,” said another neighbour writing to the Town Hall.

Officials are understood to be checking the legal uses of the block after queries from local heritage campaigners.

Pam White, from Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said: “What is really needed from our community is a large number of people to contact Camden and our local councillors to urge them to protect the keyworker planning use for this building, which has been a nurses’ hostel for many years.”

She added: “It should not be possible for a property developer to change the hostel to become private rented flats, studios or Airbnb units.” Property agents CRBE, which worked on the sale of the building earlier in this year, said there had been “competitive bidding” from both “foreign and domestic” parties. It was eventually sold for more than £15million, well above the initial asking price. It was the first time the freehold had come onto the market in more than 40 years.

The SAV Group says in paperwork filed with the council: “The proposal will improve the layout and appearance of the rear garden. “It will be set behind the rear boundary wall and will appear subservient to the main building and the rear garden. As such, the proposed development will not have any impact on the appearance of Primrose Hill Conservation Area.” Its refurbishment of the building is to help provide “high-quality and well-managed accommodation”, it adds.


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