SHTA Meet Whitbread – eventually

Whitbread, Premier Inn, Costa and Gerald EveSHTA will meet representatives of Premier Inn on Monday, 1st April, with an aim to resolve long-standing issues which have been detrimental to Somerton House residents for quite some time.

Issues on the agenda mainly focus around noise – whether it be from the air conditioning equipment on the roof, the kitchen extractor fans beneath us, the garbage compactor, recycling or deliveries.

SHTA will also touch on several Health & Safety issues which have been going on for far too long – such as large delivery wagons reversing down and then blocking our access ramp. We know the outside drinking can be a problem during the summer months too.

If the way Premier Inn, Costa Coffee or No. 1 Duke’s Road, which are all owned by the large corporation Whitbread, cause your home life detriment, and you are a Somerton House resident or live in the local area, please let us know by leaving a comment below, we’ll raise issues you’re concerned about.

Also at the meeting will be Gerald Eve, representing Whitbread’s property portfolio, and Councillor Jonathan Simpson.

SHTA has contacted the Whitbread group on many occasions, and given the group extended the Premier Inn hotel at London Euston some years ago, issues have dragged on for quite so long that we’ve taken official steps to try to force Whitbread to remedy the situation. This includes speaking to the lisensing, planning, environment and health & safety departments of the Council regarding the day-to-day running of the Hotel cum coffee shop and bar, as well as the London Fire Brigade over serious fire safety concerns we share.

We’re used to living in the centre of such a big and vibrant city, and we know all too well how noisy, and intrusive living in such a unique area can be. We also take the area, the historical importance of it, and the times where we can rest and recuperate, very seriously indeed!

The date? No, we’re not giving you an April Fool early. We really are meeting with them, after all this time!

Unison HQ – Community Working Group

Unison are still redeveloping the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital site on Euston Road.

Their January/February newsletter is attached as a PDF file at the bottom of this post.

bam-unison-2Work is mostly taking place on excavations and piling towards the rear of the site, so residents on Churchway are getting most of the noise for the time being. A new concrete access ramp to the site is being constructed to allow speedier deliveries.

Coming up over the next month or so, we will see some noisy work to destruct some concrete left in the ground by the previous building. Two tower cranes will appear on site toward the end of February.

The site is supporting the local Speech, Language and Hearing school. Workers on-site can win prizes for the school by setting good standards in safety.

Finally, a request from BAM construction and UNISON. BAM is a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme. This means that they are committed to being a good neighbour, and to working in a safe and clean manner. The Scheme has awarded the site a clean bill of health and safety.

The most important thing to remember is safety. Whilst BAM do everything they can to ensure that they and those of us living around the site are safe at all times, please remember (and tell your children) that a construction site is not a playground, and that they (and you) must not enter the site. Even though BAM take very care to ensure that the site and surrounding area are safe at all times, it’s always a good idea to take care around any building site, be careful to watch for falling objects, and watch your step on the pavement.

Click here to read the Unison EGA January-February newsletter in PDF format.

Plan to tear down the Town Hall

King’s Cross Ward Councillor Jonathan Simpson has wrote to the Camden New Journal, to raise awareness and objections to plans to demolish the Town Hall Extension.

 

Camden Town Hall, School on the right.
Camden Town Hall, School on the right.

Somerton House Tenants’ Association supports Cllr Simpson. If the current Council was to demolish the Town Hall Extension, the sustained disturbance to local residents and businesses would be unbearable.

It also stands to reason that whilst the Council are following a ‘patch it until it’s absolutely beyond economical repair’ ethos in the way our housing is maintained, that the current Town Hall Extension has plenty of life left in it.

Council services provided at the Town Hall would suffer as a result, with Somerton House residents left to speak to the Council by telephone – which is not an affordable or efficient option for everyone.

There is a school directly behind the Town Hall Extension, which would be affected unreasonably by development in such proximity. Childrens’ education would suffer.

A private development would also maximise on living accommodation. Euston Road is a major arterial route, and the noise levels at the junctions around King’s Cross St. Pancrass are unbelievable – who would want to live in an air-conditioned bubble with no opening windows?

If the Council submits plans, Somerton House Tenants’ Association will let you know.

Premier Inn London Euston – SHTA making progress

SHTA has made positive steps in addressing the noise pollution issues arising from the Permier Inn London Euston.

A filter has been installed on the extractor fan limiting some of the noise emanating from the car park level.

Permier Inn staff have been instructed not to operate the garbage crusher after 8pm.

Despite numerous requests from SHTA and the hotel management the Sunlight delivery company continues to wake residents at unreasonable hours and block the communal driveway with their noisy vans. We are talking to Sunlight laundry services and hope to make progress regarding this matter very soon.

Whitbread plc, which owns Premier Inn, employs Gerald Eve as property consultant and management company. We are expecting a representative to meet us very soon to discuss several issues:

  • Costa Coffee’s use of the front access ramp – including the partition section removed to give customers and staff a short-cut.
  • The lack of acoustic shielding around the roof and kitchen air conditioning plant
  • The use of the communal drive as a loading bay and blocking access to emergency vehicles.

Gerald Eve really need to act soon, to resolve these issues, thereby improving the quality of life for all residents of Somerton House

At a recent meeting with hotel manager Stephen Luck and the hotel Housekeeping Manager, SHTA was assured that the Somerton House sign will be repositioned shortly. It is currently obscured by the Costa Coffee awning and large umbrellas, Mr Luck has very recently apologised for the inconvenience this is causing residents over the last eighteen months or so.

Latest Updates on progress are posted at ‘Exit Gate Locked for Safety’  in Communal Living and News.

Unison Tower – Update

At a planning committee meeting on 28th February 2008, London Borough of Camden Planning Committee approved the plans for a ten storey tower block on the site of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital for women.

You are strongly urged to object to the plans in writing to the Government Office for London. This is the only organisation we can contact to request an inquiry into the plans.

As part of the planning application process, a representative from the Planning Department at the London Borough of Camden must prepare a report for the Planning Committee to consider. In the report for the EGA site, the planning officer has lied. Here we paste the exact paragraph which is contended:

7.5.3.  Overlooking/privacy issuesThere are no significant overlooking issues arising between the development and flats at Grafton Chambers, Wellesley House, Seymour House and Somerton House. As far as Somerton House is concerned, the distance between it and the proposed Block A office tower would be 38m at their closest points. Furthermore they would be separated by a busy traffic route and there would be no facing habitable rooms.

Residents will be able to see several inaccuracies and misdirections with this paragraph:

 

  • It states that no habitable rooms will be facing the development. Since 1964, SIXTEEN habitable rooms have been located opposite the proposed building site, and would be affected greatly – not least by losing their privacy!
  • The paragraph states the distance between the Block A Office Tower (the ten storey Unison tower) and Somerton House. Planning guidelines state that this distance should be the closest two points of the sites, which has not been provided in the Planning Committee’s report.
  • The paragraph also states that a busy road lies between the EGA site and Somerton House. This is an irrelevant misdirection on behalf of the council employee. It would not matter whether there was a river between the two buildings – at six storeys and higher the traffic is not a concern.

You can write to the Government Office for London,  requesting that a Planning Inquiry be held, on the above grounds. This is, unfortunately, a matter where the more support the Government Office receives, the more notice it will take. Spend five minutes writing your letter today and post it to:

Government Office For London
Riverwalk House
157-161 Millbank
London
SW1P 4RR

View the Report to the Planning Committee

Somerton House Tenants Association Objection

Somerton House Tenant’s Association have submitted an objection to Camden Council planning department. You can view it as a word file here: shtaobjection-20073736p1.doc.

Camden Council planning department have accepted the application, which was submitted on behalf of all tenants in Somerton House.

You can still join the campaign against the Unison tower yourself – by writing or emailing the Council’s planning department. The more response they get, the more effective our collective voice will be.

Visit http://stoptheunisontower.com for more information on the planning application, and the objections to it.

(this site is no longer live – works are now in progress on the EGA site with BAM construction, to build the new Unison HQ – new opposition towards the works has come from Somertown and Churchway TRA’s)

A Meeting with Unison

When plans were first submitted to the Council, and residents of Somerton House reacted angrily and fearfully to the proposals, a local Councillor contacted both Unison and Squire & Partners with a view to setting up a meeting.

The residents and the Councillor were both very hopeful of a meeting within the following week, or so. No response was forthcoming, and the suggested meeting date came and went without a word from Unison.

Over one month later, with model and photography proudly displayed, Unison, Quatro PR and Squire & Partner all managed to attend a meeting with residents. The meeting location and time were agreed with less than a week to go, so residents were very happy with their turnout of over 25% of residents. Word of mouth quickly spread the news of the site, it’s scale and the oppressing view of it from Somerton House.

Unison have apologised for not being as organised with the consultation to the south of Euston Road as they were with the residents to the north.

The proposers of the development explained their plans to the residents, along with photographic ‘now and then’ examples. Residents of Somerton House expressed their concern that the building was quite so tall, quite so close, and quite obtrusive. Although the representatives agreed unanimously that they would not mind living in Somerton House, even with their new office block in place, it was conceded by the P.R. representative that they are developing a big building, and it will have an impact on the lives of residents.

The meeting ended after 45 minutes, when it became apparent that Unison were not willing to budge on their idea, and that residents were even more determined to campaign against the plans after seeing the model and photography.

The Meeting was held on the 2nd of Novmber 2007 in the TA room at Somerton House.

Travel Inn Euston – Construction

Earlier today we met a representative of KHK Group, the construction consultancy dealing with the conversion of the Travel Inn hotel’s disused petrol station on Euston Road. Their objective is to convert the space into new bedrooms for the hotel, in time for Christmas.

It is very bad that we were not consulted as a building prior to the building work commencing, and we have ensured that all parties involved are aware that we have had no consultation, to which we were entitled, and no advance warning of a meaningful type.

13082007.jpg

Between us, we have agreed the following:

  1. That noisy working hours would be Monday to Friday from 09.00 until 17.00
  2. That there would be no weekend work, provided that the works kept to schedule, if over schedule that a review would be held with consideration towards the local residents.
  3. That a schedule of works was posted on the notice board two weeks in advance showing what works where about to start giving residents time to prepare of the disturbance and to know how long this disturbance would last. ( this will be posted and emailed to the TRA )
  4. That the pile driving would be screwed in rather than hammered, to reduce the noise levels.
  5. That should there be excessive wind for a sustained time, that was carrying dust and debris toward Somerton House that a review of said works would be carried out, to abate this.
  6. That a contact point with the builders is achieved. i.e contact number for the site foreman etc.
  7. That once during and again on completion of works, that the windows, frames and grey panelling of SH will be washed down and cleaned.
  8. That a written apology is requested from Travel Inn/Whitbread, to the residents of SH for lack of consultation.
  9. That the builders would be considerate towards the local residents.
  10. That communication between parties would be updated minimum of every two weeks.

If you have any further concerns or queries, please email shta@shta.co.uk
Or you may write to: Somerton House Tenant’s Association, The Tenants’ Room, 6th Floor, Somerton House, Dukes Road, London WC1H 9AA