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Last month I highlighted the (what I thought) unusual application to turn The Crown on Lavender Hill into a pub and hostel.

Since then the applicant has withdrawn their planning application. While this often happens when it seems rejection – or a recommendation to reject – is likely I do not know if this was the motivation in this case. Since the applicants already own the property, and their business model seems to be pubs and hostels it may well be a revised application will be forthcoming.

Or alternatively, it seems they might just go ahead and become a hostel anyway!

I noted that I was a little concerned that, on the basis it was not a criminal offence, they opened their first hostel in Tower Hamlets without planning permission. But am a little shocked to discover that they didn’t just open without planning permission, they have never got planning permission.

A search on the Tower Hamlets website reveals that they have put in a number of applications for various elements of work to their first hostel. However, two key ones, seeking permission for the hostel element have both been refused. The applications (references PA/11/00268 and PA/11/00998 which you can search for on the Tower Hamlets planning site) sought to gain a ‘change of use’ which essentially claimed it had been a hostel for 10 years anyway (this was refused because there was no evidence, indeed, the owners had paid residential council tax on the property!) and then applied for a formal change of use which was again rejected.

One of the oddities of planning is that the applicant is irrelevant. Legally I can apply for planning permission to do whatever I want, regardless of whether I have the means to do it or even own the property. However, hearing of this sort of behaviour, which seems to pay little regard to the process (or the neighbours, it seems) really doesn’t fill one with confidence.

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