The Copers Cope Area Residents’ Association and West Beckenham Residents’ Association have written to Beckenham MP Bob Stewart outlining our concerns about the Governments changes to the planning system. You can read the full letter here.
Find our more about the changes the planning system the Goverment is proposing here.
The government is currently consulting on proposals to rip up our planning system and replace it with a system based on data, maps and algorithms!
WBRA and CCARA have, over many years, helped members fight against inappropriate developments that would affect their quality of life and the enjoyment of their property. In recent years Beckenham has been blighted by overdevelopment on sites, such as conversion of a house into multiple occupation, backland development in gardens, offices being turned into small pokey flats, and demolition of existing properties to be turned into high density flats without good amenities. We have often been successful. Although we have not always been able to stop them, we have usually been able to mitigate the effects and encourage better design and standards. That would stop under the new proposals. Local people, the Council, our Councillors and MP would be almost powerless to stop bad planning development once the new planning system is in place, with only an option to tweak the design guidelines every 5 years.
What is being proposed?
This video by the Countryside Charity helpfully explains the proposed Planning System. The changes impact people in urban and rural areas in the same manner.
The key changes
The council would have only 6 months to consult local people about a master plan for their area. Then that would be it – no further opportunities to object to any individual planning application if it complies with this master plan for at least 5 years.
The master plan would have to allocate every piece of land to one of three zones.
Growth Zones (suitable for substantial development) automatic outline planning permission
Renewal Zones (for densification) a general presumption in favour of pre-specified building types.
Protected Zones (Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Conservation Areas) would planning applications be required as now.
There is no indication of how big zones are expected to be – Town? Ward? Local? But they would be decided by using “data” and “maps” and then “algorithms” would be used to decide what type of development should be built there…. What could go wrong?
Each local authority would have nationally set targets for their contribution to a national target of 300,000 new homes to be built. These indicative targets have already been published and once again have been set by algorithms.
The master plan would contain the zones and also a design guide for what buildings should look like. Design is highly subjective and must be in keeping with the surrounding buildings. There is a real risk that this proposal will mean developers favoured style of flat faced, square buildings will be built incongruously in any zone, changing the character of towns like ours.
The people who live here – you and me – would have a say only when this master plan is drawn up and councils would have only six months to consult us. “Engagement” would be via technology. No IT or smart phone? No comment possible.
And local community groups such as WBRA and CCARA will unlikely have the time resources to engage in any meaningful “consultation” exercise on the master plan, design guide identification of “zones”. Perhaps the government are banking on that!!
Some MPs are revolting against the proposals
There was debate in Parliament on 8 October where not a single MP was in favour and the vast majority who spoke against were members of the Government party, opposing their own Ministers. Teresa May pointed out that there are already planning permissions granted to build 1 million houses that developers simply do not build, so our existing planning system is not the problem.
This is a terrible proposal, what can you do?
Sign the petition organised by the Countryside Charity here.
Write to your MP. You don’t need to know all the fine details, just that:
You oppose the planning changes as you think they will detrimental to Beckenham and Bromley Borough as they remove proper planning scrutiny from the Council.
Planning decision-making powers must remain with communities and local councils and not be handed over to central powers in Westminster nor made by algorithm.
The government should improve the current planning system whilst ensuring that communities have a say in shaping the future of where they live.
Many will recall our Association (CCARA) launched a campaign to save the rail service from Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars and beyond back in 2014. The campaign was successful and we kept the service as far as Blackfriars when Southeastern took it over from Thameslink.
It seems as though the future of the rail service from Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars is as risk again. The service is not currently running under the COVID timetable. Concerned that the service may never be reinstated we followed up and have been advised the following by Southeastern.
“In the case of Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars, we will not be reinstating direct services in the short-term while usage of these services is very low and the usage of the line by other services will be returning to higher levels. This is to ensure the resilience of our ramped-up service and minimise the risk of any impacts on reliability as services are increased once more. However, this is not to say the direct services will not be returning in the longer term. We are keeping this situation under constant review, owing to the very fluid circumstances we are facing, and it is our intention to return to a full timetable as soon as possible.”
This is not reassuring! If you want this service to be reinstated sign this petition. We need to let Southeastern know how important this service is to local people before they make a decision about its future.
Bromley Council have applied for funding (made available as part of the Governments COVID-19 recovery instructions to local authorities to improve the walking and cycling in and round town centres) to implement a temporary change to Albemarle Road to make it a safer and attractive cycle route and walking experience between the junction with St Georges Road (near to Beckenham Junction Station) and Bromley Road. St Georges Road will remain two directional to traffic.
The Council advises that the interventions are temporary but are likely to remain in place at least until emergency COVID-19 measures are deemed no longer required by central government. All significant road layout changes have to go through a temporary stage before being made permanent and it is our understanding that it is intended that the cycle lane between Bromley and Beckenham along Albemarle Rd be made permanent in time. Subject of course to any issues highlighted by the temporary trail and funding being available to make any changes required for it to be made permanent.
Motor vehicle traffic will no longer be two directional between St Georges Road and Bromley Road and a cycle contraflow (a segregated cycle path to allow cyclists to travel in the opposite direction to traffic) will be installed.
Existing on street parking will be retained on one side of Albemarle Road only.
As well as encouraging cycling it is anticipated that residents will experience less noise disturbance and benefit from improved air quality from reduced traffic levels.
The scheme will also link with cycle improvements to Bromley Road including a new zebra crossing linking Albemarle Road with Bromley Road and Bishop Challoner school and segregated cycle lanes on both sides of the road. The peak hour bus lane will be removed as part of the works.
The works are likely to be commenced late September early October 2020. Residents are encouraged to email comments to the Council at email@example.com. Their phone number is 020 8313 4543.
Sister association West Beckenham Residents Association is opposing a planning application to put an 18m telecoms mast on Elmers End Green and asking residents impacted to place their objections on Bromley Council’s website by 23 September and sign a local petition petition.
The mast would be right on the corner with Croydon Road and half as high again as the tallest tree on the Green. The location would be extremely intrusive and make the Green an ugly place for everyone. The Green has been here at least 300 years!
The Green is protected as Urban Open Space (UOS). The council’s policy is that any development on UOS must be related to the existing use or be small scale – clearly not the case here..
This mast would be half as tallagain as the tallest tree on the Green. There would also be three large cabinets at the base – see over the page.
The visual impact of this mast and its cabinets would be severely detrimental. The view of Elmers End approaching from Beckenham would be totally dominated by this installation making the Green ugly and Elmers End unattractive.
The location is just feet away from the Elmers End sign and history plaque.
LB Bromley are investigating improving the Green to “enhance the public realm”.
Such a huge mast should be sited where it is not so visually intrusive – there are several light industrial areas in the vicinity where the mast would not be as noticeable.
Bridge Road which links Copers Cope Rd, Blakeney Rd and Kings Hall Rd is closed for works. There is traffic build up at the junctions of Rectory Rd/Southend Rd and Copers Cope/ Southend Rd. The 352 bus is on diversion.
You can read our newsletter here. Our Association works hard to keep on top of local news and represent members on issues. You can support us by becoming a member. It costs £5 per year with cheaper rates if whole blocks of flats sign up. Becoming a member gives us a stronger voice with the Council to keep our community great. As a member you get three newsletters a year right to your door. Become a member here.
Residents may notice park-goers exercising whilst wearing red or white bands. Fitness providers running classes in Bromley Parks must now be registered and wear armbands displayed during an authorised fitness/training session.
If residents have any issues with the recreational use of parks and green spaces they can contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will engage our Idverde Community Liaison, or they can contact Idverde onlinehere.
If you witness anti-social behaviour in action in the parks you can call Ward Security directly on 0845 8476180.
As part of ongoing work to restart services safely, the walk-in phlebotomy (blood taking) service that is run by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at Beckenham Beacon and Orpington Hospital will move to a booked appointments service. More information here
Bromley Council are undertaking a consultation on the draft Air Quality Action Plan. The plan outlines the actions the Council will take to improve air quality in the London Borough of Bromley between 2020-2025. We have submitted feedback on the plan which requests increased action on air pollution monitoring, enhancing biodiversity including more tree planting, and improving our trouble road hotspots to promote more cycling and walking. You can read our letter here.
At this evenings Council meeting of the Development Control Committee the following planning issues will be discussed:
The governments Upward Development Permitted Development Rights, due to come into force in August 2020, which will allow developers to extend purpose built blocks of flats upwards by up to two storeys to provide new residential units without planning permission.
Beckenham Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal
We have submitted a letter of support for more Council planning scrutiny in regards to upward development and also for the Beckenham Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal to be adopted by the committee. You can read our letter here.
You can watch the meeting online at tonight at 6.30pm Tuesday 14 July, see details here. The agenda and supporting documents can be found here.
Yesterday Travellers settled in Beckenham Place Park, photos have been shared on Twitter by park users. The park falls under Lewisham Council, however we have advised our local Copers Cope Ward Councillors.
The Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit has issued the following alert:
NHS TEST & TRACE SCAMS
This government service is extremely important in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public are on board with it; however, people have concerns about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams and some scam texts are already in circulation.
NHS Test & Trace will never ask you for financial details, PINs or passwords and will never visit your home. Also, Contact Tracers will never:
Ask you to dial a premium rate number (eg those starting 09 or 087);Ask you to make any form of payment;
Ask for details of your bank account;
Ask for your social media identities, login details, or those of your contacts;
Ask for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up passwords or PINs over the phone;
Ask you to purchase a product;
Ask you to download software or hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet;
Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS.
Whilst it is possible for criminals to fake official phone numbers, they cannot fake official website addresses. Anyone with concerns about a phone call, text message or email in relation to Test & Trace is encouraged to check the website address provided carefully. If possible, type the official address (https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk) followed by unique characters given to you, directly into your browser.
Temporary changes are being made from Monday 15 June to the times of day the Older Person’s Freedom Pass and the 60+ Oyster card can be used on Transport for London services. They will not be valid for use during the morning peak travel period on weekdays from 04.30 t0 09.00. After 9am on weekdays and at weekends they can be used as normal. Disabled Freedom Pass holders will be unaffected by these changes.
Passengers are also being advised, where possible, not to travel immediately after 0900 to help reduce potential crowding on buses and trains where effective capacity has been hugely reduced as a result of the requirement to observe two-metres social distancing wherever possible.
On Monday 8 June Bromley Council’s Environment Committee is meeting to discuss and approve a “Funding submission for highway measures to support social distancing during recovery from lockdown”. Last Thursday the Council published their proposal for road improvements that support pedestrians and cyclists, you can read the full proposal here. The Copers Cope Ward has benefitted from some schemes, including:
Pedestrian crossing at Southend/Park Road.
More cycle routes
Work to improve pedestrian safety at the Cornerways Surgery junction (Manor Road /Wickham Road / Bromley Road)
20mph signs at Worsley Bridge School
Ahead of this meeting we have written to the Chair of the Environment Committee and our ward councillors with suggestions for other measures local people have raised, these include:
Dealing with speeding on Copers Cope Rd, Park Rd, Brackley Rd, The Avenue and surrounding roads
Installing a pedestrian crossing on Copers Cope Rd by New Beckenham Station
Installing a pedestrian crossing on Brackley Rd for Worsley Bridge School
Resolving the problems at the junction of Park Rd and Southend Rd, without closing off Park Rd and displacing the traffic to Copers Cope Rd and Brackley Rd
Investigating options to manage the congestion over Westgate Rd Bridge at peak times
You can read our joint letter with West Beckenham Residents’ Association here. If you have any other feedback please let us know and we can follow up with a supplementary letter to the Council – email email@example.com
The council meeting will be broadcast at 1 p.m. on Monday (8 June) and you can view it here – the page will be updated a few minutes before the meeting starts.
The government is making funds available to local authorities to make changes to road layouts and to give more space to active travel and pedestrians. This is a great opportunity for residents to put forward suggestions on how to make streets safer. Our Association will be writing to our Councillors on points residents have raised with us previously and we are keen to hear your views again, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bromley Council have access immediately to £295k in funds to help town centres return to trading safely and can apply for further grants. On June 8 the Council is meeting to go forward with this (see the full proposal here). As well as identifying hotspots in town centres, Council Officers have prepared a list of ‘ideas’ that have been raised with them by Councillors previously. This list of potential schemes identified by the Council may not be inclusive at this stage, but there are lots of welcome improvements for Beckenham (that residents have raised previously) and we assume all the bids for different schemes will need to be worked up before applying for a grant and this will allow time for local peoples feedback to be included.
The Beckenham schemes have been listed below. Does this list include all the issue hotspots? Are there other opportunities?Are all the schemes favourable? Residents from Park Rd and surrounds will note the closure of Park Rd at Southend Rd is included, but no schemes have been included to manage the displacement of traffic on to Copers Cope Rd and Brackley Rd. Please let us know about schemes you support, other opportunities and any concerns with potential schemes by email to email@example.com
Temporary measures in locations where walking and cycling schemes have been previously supported by Members
CLOCK HOUSE Provide a temporary cycle route from Clock House Station to join the Kent House to Greenwich Cycleway. [indicative cost: £15k]
CLOCK HOUSE Provide a temporary cycle route from Kent House Station via Ravenscroft Road and Marlow Road to the Croydon boundary. [indicative cost: £30k]
COPERS COPE A third aspect of this new cycle route could be adding a parallel zebra crossing to Southend Road, with associated road safety measures, by the junction with Foxgrove and Park Roads, which will also assist pedestrians in this area; this is supported by the Ward Members and has also been approved by PDS previously (pre-design). The temporary closure of Park Road can also be trialled, in respect to a delayed road safety 13 improvement planned for this crossroads, which is a casualty cluster site. [indicative cost: £50k]
COPERS COPE Add a temporary cycle route along Albemarle Rd as discussed during development of Shortlands Liveable Neighbourhood. In conjunction with proposed measures on Bromley Road and Glassmill Lane they will create a temporary cycle route from Market Square Bromley to the transport interchange at Beckenham Junction. [indicative cost: £30k]
COPERS COPE Add temporary cycle lanes to the north and south directions of Bromley Road between Shortlands Road and Albemarle Road and the introduction of a temporary controlled crossing at the junction of Albemarle Road and Bromley Road. Filter the junction of Scotts Avenue with Bromley Road to through traffic. These measures will also increase additional pedestrian space around Bishop Challenor School. [indicative cost: £31k]
COPERS COPE Adding a pedestrian refuge across Southend Rd near the Lewisham border, where many residents cross to use Beckenham Place Park. (This will replace the small splitter island currently in situ.) [indicative cost: £20k]
COPERS COPE An experimental cycle route from Beckenham to Greenwich, via Copers Cope Road, to link with the above scheme at New Beckenham station. This route proposal has already been approved by Members, but has been delayed by some design issues. The proposal is to install a temporary cycle lane as a measure to assist those wishing to cycle to London, whilst also allowing Bromley to assess usage and function as we decide the precise alignment of the permanent cycleway. [indicative cost: £70k]
COPERS COPE Completion of the cycle route from Kent House Station, to Greenwich (already approved by Members and partly built). This route includes two parallel zebra crossings and is mostly funded from 2019/20 LIP. Proposal is to introduce some quick-install measures to make this route useable much sooner, whilst build continues. [indicative cost: £120k]
COPERS COPE On the other side of Beckenham discussion has been ongoing with Members about a scheme to help pedestrians cross the arms of the Manor Rd / Wickham Rd / Bromley Rd junction. Temporary measures might be trialled here to prevent bunching of pedestrians, without any impact on traffic capacity. [indicative cost: £40k]
Town Centre Social Distancing Hotspots
BECKENHAM TOWN CENTRE
In Beckenham High Street adding barriers to selected inset parking bays to create wider footways, such as by the post office and between The Drive and the war memorial.
Beckenham High St: Beckenham Pharmacy 171-173 High St. Granite Bench on the edge of village way / High St creates a pinch point.
Beckenham High St: Boots Pharmacy 181 High St pedestrian pinch point due to queues and narrow pavement.
Queues outside M&S opposite church.
Keep left signs and floor vinyl at various points around the town centre.
Major Bus stops – Signs / Floor vinyl / Pavement widening Minimum sign requirement: 60x One way / keep left; 150x Floor stickers; 60x Keep 2m apart
Keep to the left signs and floor vinyl on both sides of highway.
Sainsbury’s Local 185-205 Beckenham Road – floor vinyl Minimum signs required: 8x One way / keep left; 10x Floor stickers; 6x Keep 2m apart
Keep to the left signs and floor vinyl by Shopping parade.
Macks Pharmacy 2 Eden Park Ave – Floor Vinyl.
Lotus Pharmacy 119 Croydon Road – Floor Vinyl.
Issues crossing bridge by Tesco Superstore: add improved crossing facilities to allow pedestrians to use either footpath. Minimum signs required: 8x One way / keep left; 10x floor stickers; 6x Keep 2m apart EDEN PARK Keep to the left signs and floor vinyl by Shopping parade.
Sainsbury’s Local 515-519 Upper Elmers End Road Minimum signs required: 8xOne way / keep left; 10x Floor stickers; 6x Keep 2m apart
Temporary measures for Schools
CLOCK HOUSE Churchfields Primary School: advisory 20mph part time electronic signs.
CLOCK HOUSE Stewart Fleming – Witham Rd. Signs.
COPERS COPE Worsley Bridge Primary School: advisory 20mph part time electronic signs.
KELSEY AND EDEN PARK Marian Vian – Shirley Cres. Signs.
An administration error by the Council’s Planning and Development department appears to have resulted in the erection, without planning permission, of a large mobile phone mast on land behind the petrol station on Bromley Road.
In September 2019, a telecommunications company sought permission to erect an 18m (59ft) high base station tower directly behind the petrol station at 202 Bromley Road. The application was refused by Bromley Council in November, deciding that the height, appearance and siting of the proposed mast would be detrimental to the visual amenities of the area, and would appear as an alien and incongruous feature in a backland setting within a suburban residential area. So, in February, local residents were shocked to see the tall structure suddenly appear on the skyline. The mast is designed to hold six 2 metre-high antennae and a 30cm satellite dish, though at present the equipment hasn’t yet been fitted.
In a response to a freedom of information request, concerned neighbours discovered that the Council retained no record of an email being sent to the applicant notifying them of their decision to refuse the application. It appears that, in the apparent absence of a decision within the statutory period of 56 days, the applicant decided to press ahead with construction.
It is believed the Council has sought legal advice regarding their position, but is not taking the matter any further.
Local residents told us yesterday that the reply to their FOI request was inadequate in several respects, and they have since asked for it to be reviewed. They are also investigating ways to appeal against the Council’s handling of the application and considering taking the case further, to the Local Government Ombudsman.