The Communication Group plc is delighted by the success of its client, Whitbread plc, in securing planning permission for a 176 bed hotel in Wimbledon. The nine-storey development on the Broadway is expected to create around 50 new jobs and to become a welcome addition to the town centre, providing a valuable boost to the commercial attraction of the town centre by bringing additional custom to nearby businesses.
Whitbread bought the site with the benefit of an existing planning permission for a hotel, which was significantly redesigned to make the building more efficient, improve its appearance and enhance the amenity of neighbouring residents. Even so, the project was controversial, with height, materials and parking of particular concern to a numbers of local residents and their representatives on the council. The Communication Group plc advised Whitbread on political and community relations, managing a thorough public consultation process that ran right up until the committee that granted the planning permission.
The Communication Group plc worked closely with other members of the project team in liaising with the local community, stakeholders and local councillors to establish exactly what the concerns were and then considering ways in which the plans could be amended in order to mitigate the concerns and further improve the design. Several amendments to the plans were submitted, including a significantly increased use of brick, intended to make the building relate more sympathetically to the Victorian houses to the rear and to the adjacent CIPD building. Working closely with local stakeholder groups, members of the local community and councillors, the project team was able to satisfy the council that the hotel would bring significant benefits to Wimbledon and that the strength of the team’s local community consultation and responsiveness showed that Whitbread intended the hotel to be a good neighbour and make a positive contribution to the continuing regeneration of Wimbledon town centre. The London Borough of Merton’s Planning Application Committee resolved to grant planning permission for the development at its August meeting.