Wash and go? Laundrette could be kicked out after decades in Belsize Lane

Christine Jiles outside the launderette in Belsize

Christine Jiles outside the launderette in Belsize - Credit: Alessa Manzoni

A laundrette that has been a staple of Belsize Village four decades could be turfed out so its landlord can redevelop it.

Christine Jiles, 57, claims she wasn’t notified of the application made by the landlord to change the use of the Belsize Lane laundrette to retail.

“I knew nothing about it. I only discovered it because I read it in the paper and I saw the sign from the council hanging outside asking for comments from the locals,” she told the Ham&High.

According to the documents lodged with the town hall, Camure Ltd is looking to change the building’s use because of a “current decline in people using this facility”.

The cover letter, submitted by Willmotts Chartered Surveyors on behalf of Camure Ltd, also states: “The occupier feels it is not viable to continue running the unit.”

But Christine said she was never consulted. “I’m the only person who works here – it’s not like you have an entire chain of command to get to speak to me. They’ve apologised profusely and said they’ll try to find out how they got that information.” Camure has declined to comment.

Neighbour Mrs Situ, 79, often uses the facility. “There’s been a laundrette here since the 1970s,” she said.

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“If this one closes, the closest one is a long way away. This one is also very popular – it’s often very busy. They shouldn’t close it. It’s an important facility.”

If it is closed and converted into a shop, the nearest laundrette for people in Belsize Village will be half a mile away in England’s Lane.

In 2014 the government removed protections for laundrettes, but councils can still impose “article 4” orders to keep them. They still have their own category of planning permission, a throwback to decades gone by when they were much more common. But London Assembly member Sian Berry, who campaigned against the change, said 3 to 5 per cent of people still don’t own a washing machine.

Comments on the planning application can be made till August 12 at contact.camden.gov.uk/planning-search by entering reference number 2018/2824/PP.