Backpackers' hostel permitted in underused office block

The change of use of offices in central London to a backpackers' hostel would cater for a specific tourist need, an inspector held, which would support local shops and services.

The council stated that the use should be focused in a town centre and then to a city fringe opportunity area or sites in close proximity to major railway hubs. It did, however, fall within a central activities zone within which smaller scale visitor accommodation was acceptable, the inspector concluded. It lay only 150 metres from a town centre boundary and had a high level of accessibility. The existing office building did not meet modern needs, was significantly under-utilised and the scheme would create employment for nine staff. In her opinion despite some conflict with planning policies the benefits of the scheme outweighed the potential loss of land for higher density housing or employment space.

Inspector: Alison Roland; Written representations

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