11 Jan Future of 87 Beckenham Lane once again uncertain
We have learnt of a new significant twist in the saga of the development behind the hoardings in the Village.
On 15 December a Planning Inspector dismissed the developer’s appeal against the decision of Bromley Council to refuse a second application to develop the site.
So, once again, we have a very uncertain situation about what will happen next.
The shops have been closed and hoardings have surrounded the site for some years. It is a serious eyesore and commercially damaging to have such a large area doing nothing right in the centre of the Village.
So, how did the inspector reach his decision and where do we go from here?
Before the developer filed their appeal after local consultation they submitted modified plans and asked the inspector to allow the appeal but including the changed plans. The modified plans were supported by the SRA. We took the view that they provided a reasonable compromise between retaining the existing frontage and the need to have the buildings commercially active.
It was a matter for the discretion of the Inspector whether or not to consider the modified plans as part of the appeal. The Inspector decided not to take that approach on the basis that the alterations to the original application were substantial and not just minor. In other words they should have been the subject of a new planning application.
The inspector also took the view that there had not been sufficient local consultation or at least there was no evidence of such consultation.
The Inspector looked at the history of the buildings and although not listed by Historic England, the buildings were nevertheless locally listed and of significant local architectural and historic interest. The proposed new development, he said, would unduly compromise the form and appearance of the building and reduce its historical, architectural and visual value.
There was another very significant factor to be taken into account; a separate but linked line of applications dealt with the right of the developer simply to demolish the buildings. The developer has that right and that remains a threat. The Inspector decided that he would attach limited weight to that risk in weighing up whether or not to grant the appeal.
Also considered were the potential traffic problems resulting from vehicles parked on the roadway to make deliveries to the proposed new shop. The Inspector did regard these as considerable despite the fact that the shops now boarded up would also have received deliveries from Beckenham Lane.
The appeal was therefore rejected. That leaves us with another long period of uncertainty and inaction. Those hoardings will not be going away anytime soon.
It seems to us that there must be urgent discussions between the developer, Councillors, the planning department and locally interested parties as to what would be approved. The present situation is a blight in the centre of our Village.