WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Dominican Republic facing being kicked out of Embassy

Caribbean nation facing nervous wait for planning meeting results

23 February, 2018 — By Richard Osley

The Dominican Republic (copyright Google)

IT is the sort of row that may need a little international diplomacy, but the two sides will have to make do with a meeting of Westminster’s planning committee on Tuesday night.

More than 4,000 miles away, however, government officials in Dominican Republic will be tun- ing in for a final verdict from councillors.

That’s because the Caribbean state is due to discover whether its embassy, operating from a former residential property, can stay where it is after neighbours complained that it may have broken planning rules by moving in.

Officials in Westminster’s planning department have investigated and are recommending that councillors demand the building is returned to its former use.

Objections from people living nearby hinge on the amount of parking that they think will be required by a fully operational embassy, although Dominican officials have supplied a visitors’ log which they say shows a low level of visitors.

One letter filed at the council, signed “concerned residents”, said an application to retain the embassy “implies that the presence of a ‘low-use’ embassy will bring an economic benefit and long-term security to the Hyde Park Estate”.

It added: “This is a ludicrous proposition.  The Hyde Park Estate is a thriving community, an embassy is an unwelcome, unnecessary and unwarranted addition.”

It went on: “Since its creation in the mid-19th century, Gloucester Square has been entirely residential with a private residents’ garden, set in the Hyde Park Estate.

“The change-of-use of a sizable unit on the square would create a precedent at odds with both the history and character of the area.”

In another objection, Sally Martin, from the Hyde Park Estate Association, said: “We do not support the ‘move in and apply later’ approach to planning use, which seems cynical.”

Planning agents for the Dominican ambassadorial team say, in paperwork lodged at Westminster City Hall, that the fact its former embassy in Inverness Terrace was turned into a residential property when staff moved meant there has not been a loss in residential provision.

The lack of parking options, the agents said, meant that visitors were more likely to come by other forms of transport, and most visitors were individuals or groups of no more than two.

“The proposed mixed use will be a low intensity use, with the embassy element operating from 9am to 4pm on a daily basis.”

The documents added: “The entire property would be utilised as a dwelling house outside paperwork lodged at Westminster City Hall, that the fact its former embassy in Inverness Terrace was turned into a residential property when staff moved meant there has not been a loss in residential provision.

The lack of parking options, the agents said, meant that visitors were more likely to come by other forms of transport, and most visitors were individuals or groups of no more than two.

“The proposed mixed use will be a low intensity use, with the embassy element operating from 9am to 4pm on a daily basis.”

The documents added: “The entire property would be utilised as a dwelling house outside of these hours.”

Categories

Share this story

Post a comment

,