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Clerkenwell residents’ ‘social cleansing’ warning over plans for hotel

Defiant neighbours band together for second round of battle to block car park development

07 April, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Members of the new Catherine Griffiths and Clerkenwell Community Tenants’ and Residents’ Association

RESIDENTS fighting “social cleansing” in Clerkenwell have banded together after news that developers are again circling yet another large building in the area.

Plans to build a 180-room hotel on the site of the multi-storey NCP car park in Farringdon Road were thrown out by councillors last year but Endurance Land has confirmed it is to appeal the decision.

The news has infuriated people in the area, particularly those living in Catherine Griffiths Court and Levyne Court, just behind the car park. They have formed a new tenants’ and residents’ association, the Catherine Griffiths and Clerkenwell Community TRA, to make their voices heard.

They say plans for a luxury development at the Mount Pleasant site and an eight-storey office block with no housing in place of the former Guardian building amount to “social cleansing”.

Andy Leung, who lives in Levyne Court, said: “For the last 10 years we have been overrun by developers whose aim is to do a land grab with no real interest in local residents and their environment.

“There is no affordable housing on-site for residents and councils seem powerless to act.”

Hotel giant Whitbread teamed up with Endurance Land to draw up plans for a 24-hour Premier Inn with “compact” rooms, along with some retail space, on the site of the “ugly” NCP car park in Farringdon Road.

Anticipating the new Crossrail station at Farringdon, the company said it would bring 80,000 people every year to the area and provide 50 jobs in the hotel.

But despite Town Hall officers recommending approval, councillors overruled them, saying the plan breached a policy which states that the car park site should be redeveloped to provide homes or office space.

The plans drew sharp criticism from residents in surrounding streets, who were concerned about the size of the development and the disruption it would cause. It would overlook grade-I listed Finsbury Health Centre.

TRA chair Jacqueline Czelny said: “We expected this appeal would happen. There really is nothing for the community in this plan. It backs onto a building which mainly houses elderly and disabled residents.

“They could have some affordable housing and some shops on the ground level, the kind of shops people need.

“Exmouth Market [which is nearby] has changed. How many more coffee shops do we need?”

Another resident said: “The developer is only interested in profit at the cost of the health and wellbeing of residents who live next to the developments.

“There is no more local laundrette and I cannot afford £2.50 for a cup of coffee in an expensive café. They want to price us out.”

Ms Czelny said she was prepared to fight the development to the end. “We formed this TRA because no one was really listening to our ideas,” she added. “Because they [Endurance Land] have money, they think they can bully the residents.”

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