Following many months of consultation between local residents and Leander Sports and Leisure (who own the site) on their proposals to improve facilities and ensure greater financial viability for the club, the outline application was validated on 20th July 2011 seeking consent for three detached buildings for use as an indoor cricket training centre, a multifunction sport and leisure facility and health and fitness centre, a conference centre, a permanent stand for several thousand spectators, an all-weather floodlit pitch, on-site car parking and 48 low density two storey detached houses in a gated development towards Brackley Road. Whilst most people, even those who agree to some development, would really prefer the grounds to remain as they are now, maybe local residents remembering abuse and dereliction of the site when vacated by the Lloyds Bank Sports Club in the early 1990s can also understand why the Kent club is seeking changes which they believe will assure its future in Beckenham.
The CCARA Chairman wrote to Bromley Council’s Chief Planner to confirm the range of comment received from association members and other local residents. We are aware that this is an outline application and more detail will come with a subsequent application, should the outline proposal be approved. However, we have been concerned to establish the height, bulk and general appearance of the commercial buildings to assess the impact on residents in Worsley Bridge Road and a few properties in Stumps Hill, Overbrae and Pool Close. If consent is given clearly this must be a matter for close scrutiny at a later stage.
The application was considered by Bromley Council’s Development Control Committee (DCC) on 17th November 2011. Following almost two hours of discussion proposals for approval and refusal were each defeated and it was decided that the case would be deferred without prejudice to any future consideration, for Members to give fuller consideration to all material documents in particular, the financial viability document.
The application is to be returned to the DCC on 12th January 2012 and the most recent CCARA comments are included in the Executive Report to DCC Members. These include: The CCARA recognises a wide range of views both in favour and against; concerns that representations by the two Ward Members who spoke at the November meeting are not reflective of views and opinions of the wider community; insufficient debate took place regarding the case for Very Special Circumstances to allow for full consideration either of their particular nature or their significance in taking a decision; would like to be sure that DC Members are aware of the state of dereliction, trespass and vandalism that followed the departure of Lloyds Bank Social Club from the site in the 1990s; concern that such deterioration might lead to a development application similar to that on the former Blue Circle Sports Ground on Bromley Common where consent was given on appeal for around 850 units in the Green Belt. However, on 22nd December 2011, Stuart Lamb, the Regional Facilities & Investment Manager (South East) for the FA lodged a formal objection to the scheme, stating additionally that the FA has concerns only for football and has no interest in cricket. The Chair of Palgrave Estate has copied to the FA Chairman the letters from Palgrave and from the CCARA pointing out that, should consent be refused, not only football would disappear from the site but the grounds would be unavailable for all other forms of sport so Mr Lamb seems to be expressing a rather blinkered view. It is impossible to assess the impact of this late objection.
As scheduled, the application was again discussed at the Bromley’s Development Control Committee on 12th January 2012. After lengthy debate, when two of our three Ward Councillors spoke in favour of the application, the proposal received outline planning consent. It is now subject to direction by the Mayor of London.