London mayor Sadiq Khan has signed off development plans for the Kensington Forum hotel after they were thrown out by the council.
Owner Queensgate Investments and developer Rockwell applied to replace the existing 906-bedroom Holiday Inn Kensington Forum hotel with a larger property encompassing a 749-bedroom hotel, 340 serviced apartments, a conference centre, restaurants, bars, health spa and conference facilities, as well as 46 homes.
The proposals were rejected by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in September 2018, before the mayor intervened to subject the plans to further scrutiny in November. More than 200 people objected to the plans for the 1970s building, which has been described as an “eyesore” by the council.
Rockwell and Queensgate had proposed for 20 of the homes to be available at social rent levels for Londoners on low incomes. However, following an agreement to increase the number of homes to 62 and make all of them affordable, the mayor has signed off the plans.
Mayor Khan said: “I welcome the developer committing to provide 100% social housing in this scheme – in a borough that has consistently failed to meet its housing targets. I’m clear that I will do everything in my power to increase the delivery of new social rented and other genuinely affordable homes across the capital.
“These plans also include hundreds of new hotel rooms, which is critical to maintaining the capital’s status as a leading global tourist destination. It’s vital we give all visitors the best possible experience throughout their stay in London.
“As such, having considered all the evidence available to me, I have decided to approve this application.”
Queensgate Investments bought the hotel, financed by SocGen, for around £400m in 2016 from Apollo Global Management.
Jason Kow, chief executive of Queensgate Investments, said: “Queensgate Investments is proud that the mayor has resolved to grant this unique opportunity to create one of London’s largest hotel and service apartment schemes, while also delivering for the needs of the local community and Londoners alike.”
Donal Mulryan, founder of Rockwell, added: “We are delighted that the Mayor of London has resolved to approve this landmark development, which we’ve designed to last at least 150 years and that will continue to deliver for the local community. Kensington Forum is an ambitious scheme of exceptional quality which sets a new benchmark for global visitor accommodation.”