29 January 2015

Planning Application: M&Co application by Morrisons

The Forest Hill Society have written to oppose the application from Morrisons Supermarkets to convert M&Co on London Road. Below are the details of our objection:

I write on behalf of the Forest Hill Society to object to planning application DC/14/89770 for alterations to the shop front and side access arrangements at 10-12 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3HF. 

We understand that planning permission is not required for the change from the current A1 retail use of this property to the use of the proposed supermarket.  However, this application raises a number of important issues about this proposal that we believe will be detrimental to the function and operation of the shopping area of Forest Hill.  We believe that the Council should be extremely concerned about the highways and servicing impacts that will arise directly from the proposals within this application in that they facilitate a much more servicing intensive use that conflicts directly with the surrounding streets and pedestrian users. No information on servicing, deliveries or refuse arrangements is included with this application.

The proposal in this application includes changes to the side access into this building from Havelock Walk, partly for access to the upper floors but this also gives access to the main store area "for access and means of escape for ground floor retail unit".  We are concerned that this change to the side access may be intended to be used for servicing and for deliveries for the new supermarket and that both Havelock Walk, and this busy stretch of London Road is highly unsuited to this arrangement or possibility.   Another concern that we have is that the new set back doorway onto this edge creates a hidden space and may facilitate crime and antisocial behavior in this area.

No information is provided in this application to explain how the regular heavy servicing necessary for a supermarket use will be accommodated on this busy corner of the South Circular and TFL red route.  The proposed changes to the building to not make it clear how this will work or whether they intend to use the front or side access for servicing.  It is also not clear where deliveries are to be stored before they go on the shop floor.   If the existing service bays are to be used that are along London Road 20m or so away then this will mean trolleying deliveries from this point into the store on a very regular basis.  We would like to understand whether TFL have been asked to comment on the impact this may have on the adjacent bus stops.

No obvious space is provided within the new internal layout for storage, refuse or the other paraphernalia that goes with smaller supermarkets and which if not properly planned for end up on the street causing a nuisance to pedestrians and other town centre users (there is a particular current problem with this at the small Tesco Store on Kirkdale/Willow Way which causes problems for pedestrians and other users as well as looking unattractive). This is one of the busiest and most congested corners of Forest Hill already with bus stops, vehicular traffic, servicing bays, road crossings and many shop units.  This corner cannot cope with the amount of bins that are already located here and any more will cause considerable harm.   At the very least we would expect a planning condition that prevented the locating or storing of trolleys for deliveries or store use, bins or other items outside of the store on the public highway.   The current shop frontage has a set back doorway which at least allows those entering the shop to shelter from the busy street.  The new shop front arrangements do not allow this.

We are of the view that there is no need for an additional cash point in this location as there are at least 5 others within 50m of this point.  This is a busy and narrow area of the pavement given its use and location and this will just add to the congestion.  We would disagree with the applicant's statement that the pavement is wide in this location. 

Our last concern is about the design of the shop front itself and whilst these changes are not extensive we are concerned that they do not enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area.  This is therefore a missed opportunity to improve the area and particularly this building which is one of the least attractive in the town centre but in a highly visible location.  

In summary, our objections to this application are:
  • Lack of clarity over servicing and refuse proposals and arrangements that come about as a direct result of the proposed changes in this application;
  • The purpose of the enlarged side entrance included within this application and its impact on Havelock Walk;
  • The design of the new access onto Havelock Walk and the potentially dangerous set back area along the alley way;
  • Impact on the street scene of additional servicing vehicles along London Road;
  • Impact on access to and the operation of Havelock Walk (which is entirely unsuitable for large vehicles or lorries);
  • The missed opportunity to enhance this building and this part of the Conservation Area; and
  • There is no need for an additional cash point machine in this location.

We hope that you will be able to refuse this application until acceptable proposals for servicing the new use are established that will minimise any impacts on this important corner of the town centre.  We believe that any servicing proposals should be widely discussed prior to any application being approved so that the traders, shoppers and other users of the town centre can understand their impact and have a chance to comment on them.

26 January 2015

Burns Night Supper 2015

Barry Milton addressing the Haggis. One of the highlights of our Burns Supper at The Hill, Dartmouth Road.

07 January 2015

Planning Applciation: 26 Inglemere Road

An application has been made to convert a building to the rear of 26 Inglemere Road to a one bedroom dwelling. The application can be viewed on Lewisham website.

The Forest Hill Society has written to the council to express our concerns regarding this application:

1. Inaccurate and inadequate documentation
1.1  I am surprised the application was validated as the documents contradict each other.  The application and Design & Access Statement refer to a 1-bedroom, single storey building, yet the the Proposed Plans clearly show a staircase and area for a potential lift, and a Basement plan has also been submitted.  Why was this application validated if the submitted papers were inaccurate?

1.2 There are no photos of the existing building, only photos of an empty site.  Has an 'existing building' actually been constructed?  Aerial maps currently on Google and Bing do not show a building on this site.  If it has been built, has it ever been used for its original purpose for storage?  Without photos of the existing building how can anyone judge the Planning, design and access statement's claim that "the appearance ... is similar to its existing relationship"?

1.3 The Parking Study in the Design & Access Statement doesn't include the position of the proposed building.  Judging from drawings that do show the building and using its position in relation to 26 Inglemere Road to estimate where the proposed building is sited, it appears that the space required for turning a car would overlap with the building itself.  And if the plans in the Design & Access Statement are correct, there will be a below-ground-level patio on the western side of the house which will further reduce the area for a car to turn.

2. Lifetime Homes: poor provision for wheelchair access

There is an external ramp down to the front door but the area in front of the door doesn't seem large enough to allow a wheelchair to turn into the building.  And is the hallway large enough for a wheelchair user to get through the front door and manoeuvre around?

3. Circumvention of planning policies

The Decision Notice (dated October 2012) granting the application for the original outbuilding (DC/12/80972/X | The construction of a single storey outbuilding in the rear garden of 26 Inglemere Road SE23) imposed an additional condition that the building should not be used as residential accommodation:

"Additional Condition

The outbuilding hereby approved must only be used for storage and purposes incidental to the enjoyment of flat 1, 26 Inglemere Road and not as residential accommodation or for any commercial activities.

Reason for the imposition of the Additional Condition
The use of the outbuilding as a separate commercial or residential unit would not comply with the local planning authority's normal policies in respect of such schemes, with particular regard to the protection of residential amenity, in accordance with policy 15 High quality design for Lewisham in the adopted Core Strategy (June 2011) and saved policies URB 3 Urban Design, URB 6 Alterations and Extensions and HSG 4 Residential Amenity of the adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004)"
I see no reason why this condition should not be enforced and the current application refused.  I am concerned to see the Application Form states that pre-application advice has indicated that the application is acceptable in principle.  Residential use was not acceptable in 2012 so why is it acceptable now?  If this application is granted it will appear that the applicant has successfully circumvented planning policies by a method of incremental planning applications.