Lewisham’s Planning Committee last night voted to unanimously reject the recommendation of planning officers and refuse a planning application to build 74 flats on a backland site in Forest Hill. The councillors agreed that the proposal put forward by Loromah Estates was over development, poorly designed and could become a magnet for criminal activity.
The local community, supported by Forest Hill Ward councillors, organised a vigorous campaign to oppose this development and appeared in force at last night’s Planning Committee. The Council received about three hundred objections and five petitions, reflecting the strength of local feeling.
The planning application proposed building nine blocks of three to four storeys on land behind the Christian Fellowship Centre on Honor Oak Road and to the rear of Tyson Road. A previous attempt by Loromah to gain permission for a dense housing development here was rejected. This new application featured some superficial modifications and a slight reduction in density but was, to all intents and purposes, the same proposal. Planning officers, who had worked with the developers on this new application, recommended approval. However, in an unusual move, they noted on their report that “a lower density development in this backland location would lead to an improved scheme.”
The Committee quickly decided that the development was indeed too dense for the area. It was also concerned about the heavy loss of mature trees.
The councillors were particularly concerned about the proposed undercroft parking in the development. The councillors believed this would encourage crime and would quickly become littered with waste. Providing security gates, as suggested by the developer, would mean the residents of the furthest block having to drive through three or four sets of locked gates to reach their parking space which was clearly impractical, according to councillors.
The Forest Hill Society praises the decision by the Planning Committee to overturn the planning officers’ recommendation. The Vice Chair of the Society, Michael Abrahams, who spoke on behalf of the local community, pointed out;
“Loromah Estates was proposing a very high density development in a backland site on one of the steepest hills in London. Not surprisingly, the result is a very poor design which has been strongly opposed by the local community.”
Congratulations to the Forest Hill Society and, in particular, to those who led the campaign and spoke at the critical meeting. People put a lot of effort in - and it paid off. It really shows the value of the FHS against hureaucratic steam-rolling - it has, of course, many other values. And well done the Planning Committee for listening to sense.
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