Campaigners opposed to plans to build a 12-storey ‘aparthotel’ will fly an inflatable blimp at the site to demonstrate its “unsuitable” height.
Developer Dandi Living wants to build the block, which will contain 146 rooms like those of a hotel but designed for longer stays, on the former Vaughan Road council car park site.
Members of West Harrow Community Forum (WHCF) will gather today (Saturday, November 28) to protest against the proposed 44.5m tower between 2pm and 5.30pm.
The forum argues the scheme is “completely wrong” for a historic neighbourhood made up of low-rise Edwardian housing.
As well as criticisms of the size and design of the building, there are concerns it will harm local infrastructure and, since it is outside the designated town centre zone, could “set a dangerous precedent” for high-rise buildings across the borough.
The group points that out an aparthotel fails to meet Harrow’s need for affordable family-sized housing, particularly given changes to working habits following the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has also launched an online petition against the plans, which has gained more than 800 signatures.
Member Mike Williams said it was vital not to let developers of high-rise buildings “creep” into areas where they are inappropriate.
“It’s not protected in the same way as Harrow-on-the-Hill but West Harrow village is part of ‘old Harrow’,” he said.
“We mustn’t let developers take lumps out of it, destroy it, and saddle it on the local community.”
The council, as the former owner of the site, had planned to develop the land.
However, due to “changes in the market”, it opted to sell it to a developer to help balance its budget.
At a council major developments panel earlier this year, Dandi Living said the scheme would also include a rooftop restaurant overlooking Harrow-on-the-Hill.
Ali Ravanshad, founder of Dandi, said he wants to “put Harrow on the map” and is committed to a scheme that will “make a difference” in the area.
He said this includes a brasserie offering Michelin star street food, a bakery, and event space with a dramatic view of St Mary’s Church.
He said he hopes to see the aparthotel act as a catalyst that will “pave the way for other exciting projects” in the borough.
And he believes resistance to the proposal is “misplaced” and he would be happy to talk with the local community about any concerns they have.