On 23 May 2018, the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State) has ruled that Soho House Amsterdam may be established in the well-known Bungehuis, a nationally listed, iconic building located at the Spuistraat in Amsterdam.
Soho House & Co. operates private members' clubs for people working in creative industries. It is an international concept that offers its members a place to meet, exchange ideas, work, exercise and relax. The group operates Soho Houses in cities across the world, including London, New York, Chicago, Berlin, Barcelona and Los Angeles. Members can also spend the night in one of the hotel rooms that Soho House offers.
The municipality of Amsterdam granted permits to convert the old Bungehuis into a Soho House. Local residents feared that the Soho House and its members and visitors would create nuisance for the neighbourhood and initiated legal proceedings to overturn the city's decision to allow for the establishment of a Soho House in the Bungehuis, by claiming that the Soho House initiative does not comply with the conditions of the strict hotel policy as determined by the city of Amsterdam. According to that policy, only hotel initiatives that demonstrably form an extraordinary contribution to the existing hotel accommodations in Amsterdam and add special features to the social, cultural or economic climate in the city qualify as a unique concept and are eligible for a permit.
On 24 May 2017, the court of Amsterdam ruled in favour of the residents and annulled the permit granted by the city, among others, on the basis that the project does not qualify as a unique concept and forms a violation of the city's hotel policy. The owner/developer of the Bungehuis lodged an appeal against the judgment of the court of Amsterdam with the Council of State.
The Council of State ruled in favour of the owner/developer and nullified the court's ruling. The Council of State ruled that the conversion of the building into a hotel has been approved and a permit has been granted by the city before the current hotel policy came into force. This is why the city was not required to examine whether Soho House qualifies as a unique concept within the context of the current hotel policy as that requirement did not apply at the time. Moreover, the Council of State confirmed that Soho House meets the city's criteria for a unique concept and has been justly branded as such by the city when issuing the permit.
This ruling ends a long legal battle between the parties. The Soho House in Amsterdam is scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.