Well done to Friends Groups – Bromley now 11th in Good Parks for London List

Well done to Friends Groups across the borough for helping Bromley move up to 11th place (up from 15th last year) in the Good Parks for London 2020 Guide. Bromley Borough has improved its score to 37.5 up from 30.5.  Of course we must also mention the work of Id Verde idverde (who manage Bromley’s Parks) and Bromley Council – lets let’s get in the top 10 next year. Read the report here https://parksforlondon.org.uk/reso…/good-parks-for-london/
Friends Group volunteers (like ours) tend to parks and green spaces. If you would like to help on Beckenham Green please email greenfriends@coperscope.org.uk

Albemarle Road Site Visit Thurs 19 Nov 2020

Our Association visited the junction of Albemarle Road and St Georges Road this morning and at 9am met with ward Councillor Stephen Wells, project officers from Bromley Council and a traffic engineer. Our first impression was of significantly increased congestion on Albemarle Road, which died down at 9.30 when the peak was over. We were told that traffic was running much better than the day before, which is good news.

This is what we noted:

Albemarle Road to St George’s Road

  • Traffic is two-way on Albemarle Road between the High Street and St George’s Road. Traffic coming from the High Street is required to turn right into St George’s Road (by the car park and next to the school). Often vehicles were unable to make the turn as they were impeded by cars queuing the other way (coming out of the one-way section of Albemarle Road). The Council agrees a yellow box will need to be installed here.
  • When gaps in the traffic occurred, and when the traffic had died down after peak time, we noted a few cars taking this turn quite fast. However most vehicles were cautious of the new road layout.
  • There is a significant increase in traffic now being pushed down St George’s Road past the school at peak time.
  • An elderly resident approached us concerned with the difficulty of crossing over St George’s Road to continue walking along Albemarle Road (which they had just tried to do). Vehicles turning onto St George’s Road from Albemarle Road (coming from the High Street) have priority as it’s now one continuous road with a bend (rather than making a righthand turn into another road where vehicles watch for pedestrians) and this could be a real hazard. Our ward Councillor took away this feedback for consideration. Meanwhile, pedestrians crossing here should take extra care.

Albemarle Road cycle lane

  • We felt that there was definitely a notable increase in backed-up traffic heading westbound – although our ward Councillor disagreed.
  • There is a give way sign for vehicles coming out of the one-way section of Albemarle Road (they should give way to the cars turning right into St George’s Road) but many did not adhere to the instruction. However, it is a new scheme, and it will take a few weeks for drivers to get used to it.
  • Frustrated with the significant wait to get to Beckenham Junction, some drivers resorted to going around The Green (by turning on to St George’s Road, right on to Bromley Road and then right again by NatWest to get to Beckenham Junction). This is not ideal.
  • The cycle lane only offers segregated cycling in one direction. Cyclists coming from Beckenham to Bromley are in a safe cycle lane which eventually will have ‘wands’/slim bollards separating it from the traffic (these have yet to be installed).  But for cyclists going back to Beckenham the cycle lane is not segregated, and parking is allowed across the cycle lane, interrupting it with parked vehicles. This does not seem any better than before (not that we are advocating to remove the parking).
  • As a cyclist, turning right into the cycle lane from St George’s Rd feels hazardous especially at peak times.  One of our members felt vulnerable waiting on their bike in the middle of the new bend in the carriageway in order to turn right onto the new cycle lane on Albemarle Road.

Westgate Bridge and Foxgrove Road

  • The traffic engineer commented that since making the Westgate Road Bridge one-way (from The Avenue side), much more traffic was going over it. This suggests that Foxgrove Road and The Avenue are now taking increased traffic (traffic that would have ordinarily gone over the bridge at Southend Road and down Albemarle Road).
  • Traffic coming over Westgate Road Bridge will need to go across Albemarle Road to Westgate Road (difficult to navigate with parked cars on both sides), to join with Bromley Road and continue on towards Bromley. It’s likely this will become a pinch point.
  • Cyclists wanting to travel south to north towards Beckenham Place Park / The Avenue / Foxgrove Road, must dismount and push their bikes on the pavement over Westgate Road Bridge. The pavement here is quite narrow, and it will be difficult to pass someone coming in the opposite direction without having to step onto the road.  And impossible to maintain social distancing! Alternatively they will need to cycle up to Beckenham Junction and make a right-hand turn.

Beckenham Junction

  • Our Councillors have advised they want to put in a right-hand filter light to get more vehicles through when turning from Albemarle Road to Southend Road. This is great and will certainly reduce congestion. We asked the Council Officers when it was likely to be done and were advised they had already been asking for three years, so it’s not likely to be any time soon!
  • Our Councillors advised that they hoped to remove the parking along The Green on Albemarle Road to create a second lane. Let’s hope the Council do this quickly as it will help to reduce congestion.
  • Our Association has asked for the red and white barriers by Beckenham Junction to be reviewed and for the left-hand lane from the High Street into Rectory Road (by the Thai restaurant) to be reinstated. We are pleased that one of our ward Councillors has requested the barriers here be removed on 2nd December.
  • One of our Committee members noted that cycling out of the new Albemarle Road cycle lane towards Beckenham Junction at peak time was not particularly safe. The scheme falls short of the most complex junction which has no cycling infrastructure at all. Our member did the right-hand turn from Albemarle Road to Southend Road bridge and felt quite unsafe with no cycle box at the lights and no clear markings for where to wait in the middle of the junction for a break in the oncoming traffic.

We asked how this scheme was going to fit into the Quietway planned for Worsley Bridge Road (especially now cyclists cannot cycle over Westgate Road bridge to access the quieter roads of Foxgrove and The Avenue enroute to the Quietway) and were told that integration wasn’t in the plans, at least not at this time. We hope there will be a much broader strategy to improve cycling and pedestrian infrastructure whilst carefully managing traffic displacement and dealing with pinch points and potential pinch points before they occur. AND most importantly to consult fully with local people.

It is still very early days and we expect the scheme will settle down further. The Council are actively monitoring the new scheme and are open to ideas and suggestions to improve it, so please get in touch with them at traffic@bromley.gov.uk and don’t forget to copy us in at hello@coperscope.org.uk .

There has been a petition set up in opposition to the scheme.  You can find out more here.

Update on Albemarle Rd and Westgate Rd changes

Our Ward Councillor, Michael Tickner, has provided the following update:

The Council have advised that their contractor, Riney, expect the cycle lane and crossing works to progress as follows:

  • Albemarle Road from Downs Bridge Road to Westgate Road is due to be opened as one directional, tomorrow -Tuesday 17th.
  • Albemarle Road from Westgate Road (including the bridge section) to St Georges Road will be implemented Wednesday 18th.
  • After this, the “wands” will be installed between St Georges Road and Downs Bridge Road.
  • The last section between Downs Bridge Road to Bromley Road to be completed (lining and wands) will be confirmed when the contactors are confident that the weather forecast is satisfactory. This stretch of road has more on street car parking (parking on both sides).  Riney do not want to suspend parking until they are sure they can carry out the works as the lining is weather reliant.

Bromley Road Cycle lanes

Riney have confirmed they will start preliminaries on Wednesday with a view to starting woks Thursday or Friday.

Valley school crossing

Tactile paving and dropped kerbs have been completed. The belisha beacons are due to be connected next week. Weather permitting the crossing will also be marked out.

 

For reference the biggest problem is the lining/marking which is weather dependent. Riney have other schemes in the Borough which are running behind programme because of the line marking which is having a knock on effect with the Shortlands and Beckenham projects.

Westgate Rd Bridge no one-way to vehicles

As an extension of the Albemarle Rd Cycle Scheme the Council has made Westgate Rd bridge one way – it is will be no entry from Albemarle Rd. Disappointingly the Council have not appear to have undertaken any consultation about this as far as we are aware.  Some residents received the email below from the Council. Any feedback about the scheme can be directed to traffic@bromley.gov.uk . You may also wish to copy in our ward councillors and our association: russell.mellor@bromley.gov.uk, michael.tickner@bromley.gov.uk, stephen.wells@bromley.gov.uk, hello@coperscope.org.uk

 

Dear Resident, 

We have received and are aware of a number of comments and concerns about the proposed changes to Albemarle Road and Bromley Road. We also received comments in support, welcoming the new facilities. All the comments have been noted and we continue to examine feedback as it comes forward, with the scheme being implemented and envisaged to be in situ for the foreseeable future whilst the pandemic continues.

As stated in our letter we have and continue to record and listen to your comments and concerns. As a direct result of this we have made the decision to amend the scheme to include the Westgate Road bridge over the railway line. This particular section has been highlighted and causes conflict between motorists using the bridge. It will be trialled as one directional and traffic will only be able to drive from The Avenue towards Albemarle Road (north to south). It is anticipated that this will help reduce journey times from the Beckenham area towards Shortlands (west to east) we will continue to monitor this throughout the scheme.

It is acknowledged that most schemes that change traffic management in an area, cause some initial disruption during the installation and shortly after they are first introduced. We apologise for any disruption. However, once a scheme has been established, road users, normally, quickly make changes to their journeys and travel patterns and adapt to the arrangements.

Whilst we cannot reply to individual emails regarding this scheme you can keep up to date with any news or developments with this scheme please visit www.bromley.gov.uk/traffic

As a previously stated in correspondence the measures are part of the London wide “Streetspace for London” initiative funded by Transport for London (TfL). TfL announced the initiative during Covid-19 lockdown with the objectives of:

  • providing alternative travel options for users of public transport during the period of reduced capacity on buses and trains, other than car/taxi.
  • providing temporary cycle routes to extend the strategic cycle network, with space used on London’s main roads for temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements for pedestrians so that people can safely socially distance when out and about.

The rationale of this is that if all prior users of public transport in the area switched to a car, congestion would increase, increasing journey times for all. If the rise in car use can be limited with these proposals the rise in journey times may well be less than would occur without changes. A slightly increased journey time for some needs to also be balanced against the many benefits of increased cycling and walking.

Thank you for your understanding and support at this time and be assured that we will continue to monitor the local situation closely as the scheme progresses and following implementation.

Yours faithfully

Traffic and Parking Management Team (D)
Environment and Public Protection 
London Borough of Bromley 

Our letter to Beckenham MP regarding the changes to the planning system

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.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE – how the changes to planning laws may affect you!

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.
    • Contact Ellie Reeves here and Bob Stewart here.
  • Comment on the consultation here, but frankly the document is long, detailed and complicated – the most powerful thing you can do is write to your MP and sign the petition.

Future of Beckenham Junction / Blackfriars rail service uncertain – sign the petition

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.

Petition: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-direct-train-service-from-beckenham

Albemarle Road to become one-way and host cycle lane – have your say.

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.

Main changes

  • 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 traffic@bromley.gov.uk. Their phone number is 020 8313 4543.

Find out more

Notice on Bromley Council Website: Albemarle Road – traffic management alterations

View the plans for the traffic alterations in Albermarle Road

Planning Application for 18m Telecoms Mast on Elmers End Green – have your say by 23 Sept 2020

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!

  1. 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..
  2. This mast would be half as tall again as the tallest tree on the Green. There would also be three large cabinets at the base – see over the page.
  3. 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.
  4. The location is just feet away from the Elmers End sign and history plaque.
  5. LB Bromley are investigating improving the Green to “enhance the public realm”.
  6. 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.

Find the application on the Council website

Go to search applications then put the number 20/03020

This is the actual application but the link may have been stopped. https://searchapplications.bromley.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage

CCARA Summer 2020 Newsletter

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.

Armbands for fitness classes held in Bromley Parks

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 (hello@coperscope.org.uk) and we will engage our Idverde Community Liaison, or they can contact Idverde online here.

If you witness anti-social behaviour in action in the parks you can call Ward Security directly on 0845 8476180.

Our feedback on the Bromley Councils Air Quality Action Plan + consultation extended to 10 Aug 2020

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.

Today the Council extended the consultation until 10 August 2020.  You can view the draft consultation document here. The council advise that feedback can be provided by completing a short survey. For more detailed responses residents may want to email the Council Pollution Team at  and copy in ward councillors.

We are interested in your views, please let us know by email to hello@coperscope.org.uk

Share your views on GP services during COVID-19 by 17 Aug 2020

From the NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group

Covid-19 has caused changes to the way you access healthcare over the last few months. It will continue to have an impact and we will not return to normal this year.

We are keen to know what your experience of using our services has been like over the last few months.  What you tell us, will help us plan better for the future.

To share your views, please complete this short survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Bromley_Patient_Survey

The survey closes on 17 August 2020.

Consultation on the draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) – have your say by 27 July 2020

Bromley Council are undertaking a consultation on the draft Air Quality Action Plan 2020-2025.

The Councils proposed plan outlines the actions it will take to improve air quality in the London Borough of Bromley between 2020-2025.  You can view the draft consultation document here.

The council advise that feedback can be provided by completing a short survey. For more detailed responses residents may want to email the Council Pollution Team at

We are interested in your views, please let us know by email to hello@coperscope.org.uk

Upward Development Permitted Development Rights and Beckenham Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal – Council meeting tonight Tues 14 July 2020

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.