Main Photo: The proposed redevelopment of the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum, which got turned down
Date: April 2021
Location: Cromwell Road, Gloucester Road, London, England, UK
Name: Holiday Inn London – Kensington Forum Hotel
No. of Keys: Currently 906, one of the largest in the UK
Buyer: Up for Sale! …..Developer Queensgate Investments LLP, headed up by Jason Kow, has hired Eastdil and Savills to market the property as a standing investment, having withdrawn its current planning application for redevelopment of the site.
Queensgate bought the Kensington Forum site, with its 1970s-built, 906–room Holiday Inn, in 2015 for GBP400m. With the concrete structure acknowledged locally as an eyesore, and being difficult to upgrade to meet modern standards, Queensgate partnered with developer Rockwell and hired architects Simpson Haugh to design a redevelopment. The proposals include a 749–room hotel, 340 serviced residences and 62 affordable homes, in a podium block with 22 and 30 storey blocks.
However, the project struggled to win planning approval. Local authority Kensington & Chelsea refused the plans in 2018, but were then overruled by the mayor of London, who granted permission in 2019. The council launched a legal challenge on a technicality, with a court dismissing the mayor’s approval in 2020. Following changes to the project increasing its public housing content, the city’s deputy mayor then approved the scheme in late 2020 – only for a government minister to pull the scheme for a public inquiry. That inquiry will not now take place.
“It’s being sold as a trading business, with a two–acre freehold site,” said Rob Stapleton, director of hotel capital markets at Savills. “It’s obviously a great asset, in time there’s the option of development.” With Queensgate having formally ditched its controversial plans, “I think it keeps the slate clean for a new owner.”
Stapleton said there was financing lined up to support a purchaser, and bids are expected shortly from a number of interested parties. “There’s a terrifying amount of money in the market, more than I’ve seen in 20 years.” He added that the site came close to sale during 2020, giving those in the market some idea of value then: “But the market doesn’t know where things are today.”
THPT Comment: What a cock-up as we say in England….everyone acknowledged that the original hotel, opened in 1972 as part of the then Tourism Act, whereby the government paid Penta Hotels £1,000 a room grant, was a complete eyesore…a building that need knocking down and start again….but them RBKC, the local authority were swayed by a minority of local well-healed residents to refuse the plans submitted by Queensgate, which actually was a great replacement opportunity.
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