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Green light to convert part of 900-bed hotel into affordable homes

23 October 2020
Artist’s impression of the redeveloped Kensington Forum building

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has given the green light to a £1bn scheme to convert the Kensington Forum in London – currently a 906-bedroom Holiday Inn – into a hotel and serviced apartments alongside 62 affordable homes.

In spite of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on London’s hospitality market, Queensgate Investments and Rockwell are pressing ahead with the scheme, designed by architect SimpsonHaugh.

The affordable homes element of the scheme is worth £90m, according to the developers, and promises to be “genuinely affordable”. It is being delivered under permitted development rights (PDR), which allows existing buildings to be changed into homes without the need to go through a full planning application.

Homes delivered under PDR will still have to meet minimum space standards after changes announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick earlier this month.

The hotel will include restaurants, bars, health spa and conference facilities as well as a new, publicly accessible 2,700 sq m garden square.

Donal Mulryan, founder of Rockwell said: “Not only will this be one of the highest-quality buildings in the country, but redevelopment of the Kensington Forum will deliver a 300% increase in employment, 100% genuinely affordable social rented homes and a new public garden square. This development will benefit those who live, work and visit London for years to come.” 

Approving the scheme, Deputy Mayor, Jules Pipe, said: “There is a desperate need for social housing across London… If we are to deliver affordable homes and other benefits for London, we must ensure we make the best use of land.” 

“As well as improvements to the architectural quality, when compared to the existing building, the development includes a number of other significant benefits such as the addition of much-need affordable housing, a reconfigured public garden square, additional jobs, improved visitor accommodation and public realm improvements.”