CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Pleas for Belsize Park launderette to be saved from closure

Neighbours insist service in Belsize Lane is still well used

02 August, 2018 — By Richard Osley

IF the movie scripts were true to life, they’d be the perfect place for hipster 20-somethings to find romance. If the famous Levi’s advert is more your thing, then at any moment a heart-throb could pop in to clean his jeans while waiting for the spin cycle in the finish washing his smalls.

For residents in Belsize Park, however, their local launderette was being hailed this week for a more down-to-earth reason: We need somewhere to wash our clothes, they told council planners. Neighbours are urging Camden to refuse a “change of use” application for the service in Belsize Lane – known simply as “Launderette” – to become a shop. T

he case follows a wave of launderette closures across London as operators decided the growth in washing machine ownership has slashed demand.

As reported in the New Journal earlier this month, the launderette in Belsize Lane has been lined up for retail use after property agents said it was no longer a viable business. Willmotts, an agency handling the case, said: “The change of use is due to the current decline in people using this facility. With increasing business rates, the occupier feels it is not viable to continue running the unit as a launderette.”

The paperwork added that a new shop would be a “welcome addition”. But some insist the launderette is well-used and objections have been filed at the Town Hall, calling for it to be protected.

One said: “I am in my 70s, and I share a flat in Belsize Park with someone who is 85. This is our local launderette, and we have been using it for many years. There has never been a washing machine in the flat. If the application for change of use is approved and followed through, we will be left without any way within walking distance of washing our clothes.” A

nother added: “Gradually Belsize village is being deprived of its genuinely useful community hubs, post office, newsagents, hardware store, pub, etc. What does retail mean in the case of this special location ? A shoe shop? Phone shop? It is an empty word … the launderette importantly retails cleanliness and survives serving a needy local population in spite of the owner’s neglect.”

Officials are continuing to review the proposals.

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