Hotel plan for Seager Distillery

The Deptford Dame reports that the developers of the Seager Distillery are planning to substitute the planned office space for a 4-star hotel, shifting the proposed gallery round the corner and installing a restaurant.

The application requests:

Change of use of permitted office (B1) floorspace within International House, and of permitted office (B1) and art gallery (sui generis) floorspace within Holland House to use as a 90 bedroom hotel (C1) with an ancillary ground floor restaurant (A3) on the ground floor of Holland House, along with a change of permitted use of two middle ground floor units of Norfolk House from office (B1) to art gallery (sui generis) at the redeveloped site of Old Seagar Distillery & Norfolk House, 4-12 Deptford Bridge SE8.

As The Dame says:

The developer was originally granted planning permission to convert the old distillery building that fronts on to Deptford Broadway into a ground-floor art gallery and six floors of office space.

But now they are claiming that they've had no interest in the office space, but have been approached by a hotel chain wanting space for a four star hotel with 90 rooms.

The Dame is concerned about the gallery being given a less prominent spot and that's a valid complaint, although galleries tend to cope pretty well in some unprepossessing locations and if we were going to start a gallery, we don't think we'd be too troubled about being shifted from facing on to a busy dual-carriageway to a quieter spot.

In our view, the more significant question is whether the loss of office space is a set-back for local economic development. Lewisham has relatively little high-quality office space with which to attract jobs. These developments are an opportunity to help redress the balance. As with Convoy's Wharf, office space is being lost to hotel space. In the case of Convoy's Wharf, we argued that hotels are an important creator of jobs and driver of economic activity and the same argument can be applied here. However, in this case, all of the office space is threatened. Is a large high-quality hotel in the area better than an office building? We don't know.

The other question is how a 4-star operator expects to make a success of this location. We sometimes accuse critics of other developments of suffering a failure of imagination, but we're experiencing one of those ourselves in this instance. We guess the operators are relying on the ready access to Greenwich and Canary Wharf via the DLR, in which case, Deptford will have to work hard to capitalise on the regular inflow of hotel guests.