Reed files objections to plans for 530-room Crystal Palace hotel

Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Lambeth South/Croydon North, has moved to block plans to build a mega-hotel on Church Road.

Tacky, and far too big: the designs for the Queen’s Hotel extension really are crass, even by the standards of some of the architects operating in Croydon

The Labour MP has aired concerns that the proposals for the Queen’s Hotel on Church Road are already causing a form of development blight in the area, as developers buy-up properties nearby and are trashing the neighbourhood.

“Companies associated with the hotel are buying up houses on Fitzroy Gardens and Wakefield Gardens,” Reed has written.

“It is not clear why they are doing this, but the effect is to damage the close-knit community which lives there.

“I have been shown examples of building waste being dumped in the garden of one of the houses, implying they intend to convert it into a multi-occupancy property… wholly out of keeping with the area.”

The Queen’s Hotel was a once proud institution, providing elegant accommodation and meals to well-off Victorians and Edwardians who were visiting one of the wonders of the 19th century world, Paxton’s Crystal Palace. The hotel’s notable guests included Emile Zola, the great French man of letters, during a spell of self-imposed exile following the Dreyfuss scandal.

The Emile Zola blue plaque at the Queen’s Hotel on Church Road

But recently, the 98-room hotel’s fortunes have waned, and it is now notorious as “Hotel Asylum” for providing temporary accommodation for homeless and refugee families, and coining it from local authorities who foot the bill.

Its owners, the Euro Hotels group, seem keen to accommodate as many people as possible, though, and have submitted plans for a modern extension which would allow it to provide 530 guest rooms. Your average Travelodge offers more than 75 rooms.

Their submission to the planning authority states their plans are for: “Demolition of existing buildings to the centre and rear of the site and existing extensions to the roof, and the construction of a new spine building, an extension from the southwestern facing elevation of the existing locally listed building, a single storey extension to the restaurant, subterranean accommodation which provides parking, a swimming pool and servicing space, to create a total of 530 hotel rooms and 170 vehicle parking spaces, the re-cladding of the 1970’s extension, provision of enhanced landscaping across the site including 3 coach parking spaces to the front, formation of a vehicle access and the adaption of existing entrance to the hotel.”

Reed has filed a letter of objection to the plans on grounds of its vast scale – “bigger than the Park Lane Hilton” – and its proposed destruction of some of the conservation area’s Victorian heritage.

“The size and massing of the proposed new buildings behind Church Road towards Fitzroy Gardens and Wakefield Gardens is far too big,” Reed, a Shirley Hills resident, has written.

“They will dominate the streetscape of these residential areas, blocking out light and overwhelming the neighbourhood. They should be reduced in size so this does not happen.

“The redeveloped hotel would be far too big for the area.

“At 530 rooms it will be bigger than the Park Lane Hilton, and much bigger than any other hotel in the area. An average-sized Travelodge has 75 rooms and a Premier Inn around 85 rooms.

“There is no space around the hotel for the scale of deliveries required, appropriate staff accommodation, or road capacity for the additional traffic the development will bring. For all these reasons, the scale of the hotel must be dramatically reduced.

“The hotel is in a conservation area, and the Victorian nature of the hotel buildings are part of what this is supposed to conserve.

“The proposal to demolish them and replace them with a very ordinary modern building that overwhelms local streets is inappropriate and should be rejected in favour of a proposal more in keeping with the locality and its history,” he adds.

“The 1850s stable block at the back of the site is earmarked for demolition in order to accommodate a multi-story car park. No guarantee has been given that the stables wall, which forms the boundary of seven private gardens, will be left in place.

Steve Reed OBE: opposed to super-sized Crystal Palace hotel plans

“There are serious concerns about the level of noise and intrusion if the car park is built in this location, particularly given how close it is to residents homes as the gardens are not large. I support residents who wish to see the car park relocated elsewhere on the site.

“Companies associated with the hotel are buying up houses on Fitzroy Gardens and Wakefield Gardens. It is not clear why they are doing this, but the effect is to damage the close-knit community which lives there.

“I have been shown examples of building waste being dumped in the garden of one of the houses, implying they intend to convert it into a multi-occupancy property, again wholly out of keeping with the area.

“Residents have made clear to me that they would welcome an appropriate redevelopment of the hotel and are disappointed that the hotel owners have not engaged with them more constructively.” Sound familiar?

Reed concludes his letter to the council’s planning committee by writing: “I urge the committee to reject the proposals as they currently stand on the grounds above, and issue an instruction to the developers to consult with local residents on a new proposal.”

According to Croydon Council’s planning portal, there is no date yet set for the planning committee to consider the Queen’s Hotel proposals.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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