Residents' opposition to floating Royal Docks hotel quashed by council
PUBLISHED: 11:04 21 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:05 21 July 2016
A floating Dutch prison-turned-hotel is to moor in Royal Victoria Dock for five years despite opposition from residents and businesses.
The 148-bed “premium” Good Hotel, currently docked in an Amsterdam canal, was granted planning permission to open on the water off Western Gateway by Newham councillors at a packed Old Town Hall meeting on Tuesday.
Cllr Forhad Hussain, Cllr Ibrar Hussain, Cllr Julianne Marriott and Cllr Ken Clark of the Strategic Development Committee all approved the decision after hearing arguments from parties representing both sides.
Cllr Roksana Fiaz abstained from voting, while Cllr Rachel Tripp could not vote as a late attendee to the meeting.
Despite founder Marten Dresden saying the hotel would provide 60 people in Newham with employment and “support those who train with us to secure long-term employment”, 112 objections were lodged against its planning application prior to the vote.
Residents fear that the hotel, which will include an open-deck space, restaurant and bar, will look “completely out of character” with the setting and will obstruct the area’s unrivalled clear views as well as lead to noise complaints.
Businesses, including Crowne Plaza London Docklands and restaurant Top 1 Forever, have said the opening could harm their profits.
Docks resident David Partridge, and residents’ spokesman, said the “public will suffer” as a result of the decision.
He said: “It is a real attraction to come here. The whole selling point is the view of the dock. If you have got a massive vessel it will block out most of that.”
Mr Partridge added that people had also been frustrated by a “sham consultation” by Good Hotel representatives on Tuesday, May 31, in which limited information had been available about the proposals.
He said: “Residents were only notified of it a week before and some may have been on holiday.”
He expressed concerns at Newham Council’s decision to process the application within a 24-hour period following the consultation in light of so many objections.
This was also acknowledged by Cllr Marriott and Cllr Fiaz but the decision was defended by Deidra Armbsy, director of regeneration and planning.
She said: “We do try to implement our planning applications as quickly as possible.”
Marije Janssen, the community liaison officer for the Good Hotel, said the comments had “been tough” to hear.
She said: “I am going to invite everyone to come and meet with me in a couple of weeks and express the concerns that they have had.”
One new condition pending the Good Hotel’s opening – as stipulated by Cllr Ken Clark – was that the vessel must have more than the four accessible rooms outlined in the original planning document in order to meet legal requirements.
Good Hotel founder Mr Dresden said he would abide by this decision.
Speaking to the Recorder yesterday about the decision, he said: “We take people’s concerns very seriously and have aimed to engage, and will continue to engage, in dialogue.
“Clearly, we have not been able, nor will we be able at this stage, to take away all the concerns that may be around.
“What does help, in a way, is that we encountered very similar concerns when we first launched our plans in Amsterdam, and that we were - during our operational 13 months there - able to alleviate these.
“In our entire period of operation, we have not had a single complaint, and it turned out our neighbours were some of the most frequent and enthusiastic visitors of our ‘Living Room’.”
The Good Hotel had been originally due to open this September after sailing across from Amsterdam.
Mr Dresden said at the meeting that staff training would likely start in October after all the legal matters had been attended to.
A legal spokeswoman for the Crowne Plaza London Docklands said a judicial review may now take place in light of the decision.