Best Western hotel approved despite school opposition

The opening reception and ceremony of the reopening of Plashet School.

Plashet School objected to plans for a hotel next door - Credit: Ken Mears

Councillors approved plans for a new Best Western hotel in East Ham despite opposition from a neighbouring school.

An application by Metro Properties Ltd to demolish an existing office building at 292-294 Plashet Grove and build a seven-storey, 101-bedroom hotel in its place was heard by Newham Council's strategic development committee last week.

A council report said global chain Best Western would be the operator of the hotel, which is proposed to create seven jobs.

The scheme's architect Shahid Hussain, from SHA Ltd, told the meeting that it would be a four-star, "premium" hotel but Best Western did not respond when asked by the Recorder to confirm what brand it would be.

Site neighbours Plashet School wrote in objection to the plans.

Rachel McGowan, headteacher, raised concern that the hotel would overlook the girls school.

She said: "Our objection as a school is to the prospect of 101 or more unknown and constantly changing residents living in very close proximity to our school site every day which would potentially not offer better lives for the generations of young women who attend Plashet School but instead cause anxiety amongst them, their parents, school staff and governors."

Headteacher Rachel McGowan said Plashet's girls had achieved "stellar" results. Picture: Jon King

Plashet School headteacher Rachel McGowan - Credit: Jon King

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East Ham MP Sir Stephen Timms also objected to the plan, adding: "The safety of women and girls should be a major concern in determining this application.

"This development is wholly inappropriate in this location."

A council officer in the report responded to say the Met Police had not raised any safeguarding concerns.

They added that windows on the seventh floor would include privacy louvres.

Mr Hussain told the meeting the applicant had reached out to the school to address their concerns.

He also said consultation would be promoted with the school during the construction phase and afterwards to "ensure the welfare of local schoolchildren is given the highest importance".

The issue of children's safety was also raised by committee member Cllr Musawwar Alam, ward councillor for East Ham South.

He said: "Having 101 hotel rooms and you have approximately 80 per cent capacity at peak time with two people per room, that's almost 200 people.

"You have no idea who these people are, guests coming in and out and you have young girls here who are walking around.

"Grooming is quite a big concern with this application."

Cllr Musawwar Alam

Cllr Musawwar Alam - Credit: Andrew Baker/Newham Council

Planning officer Sean Scott said the design was amended after a request by officers to angle the windows away from the school.

He added: "This is a hotel, it's a managed entity. If there was another type of development there, crime can occur. From a planning perspective, we have undertaken the right procedures regarding crime and safety."

Mr Hussain said the building would be under "constant CCTV surveillance", with the meeting also hearing that there would be staff and security at the site 24/7.

Another committee member, Cllr Mohammed Gani, felt that a hotel development in a residential area was "not a welcome step".

He said: "If you look at the surrounding area, it is full of faith communities. But there is no hotel."

The councillor also expressed worry that approval would lead to more hotels in High Street North.

Mr Scott said the local plan is supportive of hotels in town centre locations and said a hotel in Plashet Grove would not be out of character with the rest of the street.

The proposal was recommended for approval by officers, who said the hotel and basement restaurant would "make a positive contribution to the vitality of East Ham".

The latest proposal supersedes a previous application for an 85-bedroom hotel on the site, which was approved in 2019.

The plans are 'car-free' but there would be two Blue Badge parking spaces provided.

The committee voted in favour of the application at the meeting on June 14.