On 23 May 2018, the Dutch Council of State finally ruled that Soho House Amsterdam can be established in the well-known Bungehuis, a nationally listed, iconic building located at the Spuistraat.
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.
After the municipality of Amsterdam granted permits to convert the old Bungehuis into a Soho House, local residents, fearing that Soho House and its members and visitors would create a nuisance for the neighbourhood, initiated legal proceedings to overturn the city's decision. They claimed 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 on the basis that the project did not qualify as a ‘unique concept’ and therefore violated the city's hotel policy. The owner/developer of the Bungehuis then lodged an appeal with the Council of State.
The Council of State ruled in favour of the owner/developer and nullified the court's ruling. The Council ruled that the conversion of the building into a hotel had been approved and a permit had been granted by the city before the current hotel policy came into force. As a result, the city was not required to examine whether Soho House qualified 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 had 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, Amsterdam is scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.