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“You don’t know how happy I am’: Belsize Park launderette saved as Camden Council rejects planning application

PUBLISHED: 15:26 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 25 February 2020

Launderette manager Celia King (left) with happy customers. Picture: Russell Bentley

Launderette manager Celia King (left) with happy customers. Picture: Russell Bentley

Russell Bentley

A Belsize Park launderette was saved on Monday after a planning application to change its use was rejected.

The England's Lane launderette is regularly used by residents at the nearby homeless hostel. Picture: Michael BonifaceThe England's Lane launderette is regularly used by residents at the nearby homeless hostel. Picture: Michael Boniface

'Launderette', in England's Lane, has been under threat for three months under plans to make it a shop, during which time the Belsize community has rallied to support the longstanding facility including 406 signatures on a local petition.

Camden Council refused the application on February 24, stating in its planning notice: "The proposed change of use, by reason of the loss of a launderette which provides a specific and essential service and social function, would be detrimental to the character, function, vitality and viability of the England's Lane neighbourhood centre."

Launderette manager Celia King, 60, said: "You don't even know how happy I am.

"My customers are going to be even more happy than me. They'll be trying to get a party going! "I'm going to see a lot of happy faces today."

Celia King (right), Belsize councillor Luisa Porritt (centre) and hostel resident Ubah Ali (left) campaigned to save the facility. Picture: Cllr Luisa PorrittCelia King (right), Belsize councillor Luisa Porritt (centre) and hostel resident Ubah Ali (left) campaigned to save the facility. Picture: Cllr Luisa Porritt

The owner of the building, Camure Ltd, declined to comment on whether it would appeal the decision, and Celia admitted there may be more hurdles to overcome.

"We are not just going to sit back and relax," she said.

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"We are going go be on guard and watch every little thing, follow everything that goes on and see where it takes us."

A planning officer's report cited 25 objections to the plans, including concerns over prospective changes to the area's character, its impact on customers from homeless hostel England's Lane Residence, and the inability of the dry cleaners opposite to provide the same service.

It noted the claim of the planning agent - formerly Pegasus Group - that the launderette was in administration, but the report said it was still operational and the tenant wished to remain.

Belsize councillor Tom Simon said: "This is a victory for the local community.

"The launderette is an essential resource for the families living in the England's Lane Residence and provides a much needed service for many other people in the area."

Tulip Siddiq MP said: "I'm glad that Camden Council have definitively rejected an application to change the use of the laundrette on England's Lane.

"They quite rightly ruled that turning this great service into a retail unit would be detrimental to the local area.

"This is good news for the community and the excellent staff at the laundrette."

Belsize documentary maker Russell Bentley added: "I'm thrilled, it's another mini little truimph. "It's important that we are carrying on a community in an area that is full of gentrificaiton and coffee shops."

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