Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts

19 February 2024

Planning: Objection of M&S Food in Bell Green

The Forest Hill Society has objected to plans for M&S Food in Bell Green, just as we did when Aldi was proposed for the neighbouring store.

DC/24/134364: Insertion of mezzanine floor in connection with the sub-division of Unit 5B, Bell Green Retail Park, Bell Green SE26

Impact on Local High Streets:

We are concerned that an additional supermarket in this location will pull more people from the existing high streets in Sydenham and Forest Hill. The opening of Savacentre (now Sainsburys) saw a series of closures in the high streets. The creation of Aldi in the Bell Green retail park in 2018 put further pressure on local high streets as a second large food retailer chose to open in this out of town centre rather than in one of the town centres. The opening of a third supermarket in this location will further exacerbate the decline in local district and town centres in this part of Lewisham.

We would refer to government guidelines on town centre development which states that:

The sequential test guides main town centre uses towards town centre locations first, then, if no town centre locations are available, to edge of centre locations, and, if neither town centre locations nor edge of centre locations are available, to out of town centre locations, with preference for accessible sites which are well connected to the town centre. It supports the viability and vitality of town centres by placing existing town centres foremost in both plan-making and decision-taking.


In this case it is clear that at least one potential site for a supermarket is available in a local town centre (vacated recently by Paddy Power in Forest Hill, which was once a Tesco store), and for this reason the planning department, in applying the appropriate sequential tests, should recognised that this location for a new supermarket is inappropriate at the present time.


Contrary to Core Strategy and Site Allocations:

Bell Green is designated as a local hub, which is secondary to the District Hubs (such as Forest Hill and Sydenham). Under the Bell Green specific part of Spatial Policy 4 the floorspace on the allocated site is limited to that which had permission at the time of the adoption of the Core Strategy - specifically to limit impact on adjacent town centres.

The Site Allocations Policy DPD allocates the Bell Green site as SA26 and whilst identifying the need for development clearly identifies a risk of impact on nearby town centres and a need to seek to reduce car dependency. This application is directly in contravention of the site allocation in both these regards. Existing planning permission and designation in the Core Strategy and Site Allocations Local Plan specifically excludes food retail, allowing only for A1 use for non-food retail.

Core Strategy, Spatial Policy 4, June 2011

Bell Green

1. Designate as an out-of-centre retail park within the Council’s retail hierarchy.

2. Limit the floorspace and range of goods sold to that contained in the granted planning permission to protect the viability of adjacent town centres.

Ref: (page 68)


Site allocations local plan, June 2013

SA26: Former Bell Green Gas Works (Phases 2 & 3), Perry Hill Sydenham, SE26 Phase 2: Mixed use business, industrial or warehouse, non-food retail and associated garden centre, restaurant, use of Livesey Memorial Hall as a social club Proposals for this out-of-centre site should be considered in the context of protecting existing town centres within the borough's hierarchy and, allow for comprehensive redevelopment of the site. Proposals should seek to reduce car dependency, improve public transport, cycling and walking access and promote more sustainable forms of development.

Ref: (pp 91-92)


Further Development Management Policy 30 sets out that "the Council require all development proposals to attain a high quality of design". Which is not the case in this application because of the way it:

a) fails to create activity and frontage at ground level,

b) fails to create coherent built form that relates to the local topology,

c) does not make a positive relationship with existing townscape,

d) creates large areas of parking and servicing, and

e) fails to recognise the positive character of the existing gas holders or reflect its

positive qualities in the scheme.

Ref: (page 85)

As a result of the issues above, we ask the planning authority to reject this application as being contrary to URB 18d, DM Policy 30, Spatial Policy 4, and national policy on supporting high streets.

We would encourage retailed such as M&S Food to look for suitable locations close to Forest Hill and Sydenham Town Centres for new stores, which we are sure would be welcomed by residents.

01 November 2023

Planning Application: Bird In Hand Pub, 35 Dartmouth Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to plans to change the Bird In Hand Pub, planning application DC/23/132691: Demolition of the existing canopy and construction of a 3 storey extension plus mansard roof at the side, an additional storey at first floor level at the rear and an external staircase, together with alterations to lower ground for bike and refuse storage to provide 6 self-contained residential units and 3 self-contained Bed And Breakfast Rooms at Bird in Hand PH, 35 Dartmouth Road SE23.

We are writing to object to the above application by virtue of the detrimental impact on the Forest Hill Conservation Area.

The Forest Hill Conservation Area is characterised by its commercial and retail centre around the railway station and surrounding suburban residential streets and green spaces. The application site has historically operated as a public house, having replaced a previous public house on the site between 1895 and 1916. The form, materiality and appearance of the building is representative of the Victorian and Edwardian architecture that characterises the Conservation Area. Moreover, its glazed brick frontage, which we accept had been covered previously, although potentially without the benefit of Planning Permission, provides interest and variety to the streetscape, particularly considering the loss of historic shopfronts in the Conservation Area. The pub’s position at the corner of Dartmouth Road and Bird in Hand Passage, as well as the space provided by the shelter on the south elevation, give the site more prominence in the streetscene. Therefore, it is considered that the application site currently makes a positive contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area.

We believe the application proposals would result in harm to the significance of the Conservation Area through the loss of features and elements of the site which contribute positively. We have discussed the proposals in turn below:

Additional Height and Roof Form

Given the immediate two-storey context of the site, the proposed three storey plus mansard extension would be overbearing to the surrounding and adjacent modest two-storey terraced buildings.

The mansard roof exacerbates the impact given its height is almost identical to the storeys below. This side of Dartmouth Road is very clearly more traditional than the other side, and whilst there are instances of contemporary forms or mansards beyond Dartmouth Road, such as in the more recent developments towards the railway, the built form along Dartmouth Road has retained traditional hipped or pitched roofs. There are no mansards on any buildings on this side of the road fronting Dartmouth Road. The acceptance of a mansard roof in place of an original roof form would establish a dangerous precedent within this part of the Forest Hill Conservation Area as well as result in the loss of an original hipped roof form and chimney.

Proposed Appearance

The proposed inset balconies to the front elevation would be out of character with Dartmouth Road, which does not have analogous examples. Moreover, the form and scale of the proposed balconies does not tie in well with the modest scale and character of the existing building. The openings facing Bird in Hand Passage would detract from the traditionally-scaled windows across the building as well as look odd at the mansard level where the opening is more trapezoidal in shape. Given the overriding character of this side of Dartmouth Road and the host building, any new balconies should be positioned to the rear.

Extension Towards Bird in Hand Passage

Historic mapping shows that between 1916 and 1952, a historic smithy was demolished to make the building line consistent along the northern side of Bird in Hand Passage. Whilst the terraced housing at the end of the street was demolished for the Phoenix Works development, this building line was maintained in the new development. The extension of the site towards Bird in Hand Passage would reduce the ability to appreciate the historic building line as well as the changing townscape as one moves towards closer to the railway. Whilst the submitted Daylight/Sunlight Report has raised no issues with such impacts on the neighbouring properties, the drastic increase in height on a historically open space would have an overbearing effect on the streetscene.

Elevational Treatment

Lastly, the drawings indicate that the glazed brickwork would again be covered by render. Although it is noted that the glazed brickwork was covered until recently, it is not clear whether this ever had Planning Permission. Furthermore, as a historic, original cladding material that is most often associated with public houses, this treatment is an important element within the streetscene of Dartmouth Road and the wider Conservation Area. Its loss should be resisted.


Therefore, the above comments have highlighted where harm to the significance of the Forest Hill Conservation Area is being derived as a result of the application proposals. The submission has not demonstrated that alternative schemes have been discounted nor that this is the least harmful proposal. The application has also not presented any public benefits to outweigh the heritage harm caused, as per Paragraph 202 of the NPPF.

Although a Heritage Statement has been submitted in support of the proposals, we do not believe it fulfils the requirement set out in Paragraph 194 of the NPPF, which states: “In determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance.” The Heritage Statement does not sufficiently assess the significance of the Forest Hill Conservation Area, nor the impact of the proposals on that significance.

We have also noted that the submitted Design and Access Statement makes reference to Flat being a 1 bed, 3 person unit, but we have assumed the ‘3 person’ is a typo and it should be ‘2 person’.

We therefore request the application is refused.

28 June 2023

Planning Objection: 2A Gaynesford Road

The Forest Hill Society has objected to this application to build a new house on the site of a garage on the corner of Church Rise and Gaynesford Road. Details of the application can be found here: DC/23/131488 | 2A GAYNESFORD ROAD, LONDON, SE23 2UQ

We wish to object to this application on the following grounds:

1.  Intensification of built form harms the heritage significance of the Conservation Area

The Heritage Impact Statement, and proposals generally, fail to address the characteristic of generous rear gardens to the dwellings of the Conservation Area.  Whilst a poor quality garage was erected on the site and removed some of its verdancy, the garage is still read as ancillary to its former host building and the gap between No. 2 Gaynesford Road and No. 49 Church Rise is appreciable.  The incorporation of a new dwelling on the site would encroach onto the former garden/ancillary space and diminish the regularity in scale, height, and form of both the plot layouts and built form of the Conservation Area.  The Heritage Impact Assessment does not adequately assess the contribution the site makes to the significance of the Conservation Area, with reference to the gap and resulting views and the ancillary appearance of the site, nor does it acknowledge the impacts of the intensification of built form in the street through the proposals.  The Heritage Impact Statement concludes that the proposals will "enhance" the Conservation Area, but to the contrary, the proposals will result in harm to the heritage significance of the Conservation Area, and the statutory requirement of Section 72(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act is not met.

2.  Proposed height and frontage detail is too dissimilar to neighbouring houses

The Heritage Impact Assessment states:

s. 4.3  "There is an opportunity to create a simplified and slightly down-scaled Type 2 “Christmas house” "

s. 4.6  "As far as the Type 1 and Type 2 “Christmas houses” are concerned, the application proposal will be an informed continuation of the Type 2 houses in Gaynesford Road."

The proposed dwelling appears to be smaller in height than the neighbouring houses in Gaynesford Road and the Application Form refers to red face brick (despite the Design and Access Statement referring to brick and stucco), which does not match the design of the neighbouring houses.  The site is located within a Conservation Area, the whole point of which is the character of the Christmas Houses.  A “simplified and slightly down-scaled” Christmas House would be unacceptably incongruous next to the houses it is supposedly emulating, and would harm the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.

3.   Garden space

The proposed amenity space is piecemeal (a small patio at the bottom of a lightwell and a small garden at ground level) and therefore is not suitable usable space (Section 2.261 Lewisham DM policy 33) or practical and good amenity (Section 3.6.9 London Plan 2021).


4.   Detrimental impact on No. 49 Church Rise contrary to Lewisham DM Policy 32

This was one of the grounds on which Lewisham rejected previous proposals and was upheld at appeal.  Although this proposal has a smaller footprint than previous applications, it is a two-storey building and would still be detrimental to the outlook of inhabitants of No. 49 Church Rise.


5.  Layout: location of bedrooms

Bedroom 1 is located on the first floor and Bedroom 2 is located in the basement.   Although a 2-bedroom dwelling doesn't meet the definition of 'family dwelling', it is realistic that a family would consider living in this house but parents wouldn’t want a child's bedroom to be two floors away from their own bedroom.  Such a layout therefore offers poor usage to potential inhabitants and would limit the market for this house.

03 May 2023

Planning Application: Taymount Grange, Taymount Rise

Reference DC/23/130280, Construction of a 5 storey building comprising 29 flats, TAYMOUNT GRANGE, TAYMOUNT RISE, LONDON, SE23 3UH


The Forest Hill Society has written to object to this planning application. Concerns include:

  • Daylight for residents in the new property
  • Issues for transport and parking
  • Difficulty for servicing and access
  • Pedestrian access limited to non-residents
  • Lack of social housing

In addition we are concerned about the impact of the construction of two developments on either side of Taymount Grange at the same time and coordination between developers.

Extracts from the objection:


The levels of daylight for almost all east facing windows on the ground floor and first floor of this development are well below any suitable daylight factor. In total there are 7 units (24%) across the four floors where the Living room/Kitchen/Dining room less than 20% of the room area meeting required Daylight Factor.

These figures demonstrate a poor quality of residential amenity that falls below Lewisham policies and national expectations for daylight, due to over-development of this backland site. 

Parking & Servicing

Despite the flawed transport statement, it should be clear that based on policy 29 that this application should be refused as this development is outside of PTAL 4 rating and will cause detrimental impact on the provision of on-street parking on top of that already allowed by Lewisham with the previous permission given.

In relation to servicing, paragraph 3.5.1 of the transport statement says that parking for servicing will be provided in the turning area. This will prevent people parked in the disabled parking bays from being able to leave this site without reversing for approximately 200m up a narrow, sloped driveway. The dual use of the turning area for servicing and turning for disabled residents is inappropriate and could be unsafe for disabled residents.

Pedestrian Access

We welcome the creation of a new pedestrian route between Taymount Rise and Derby Hill Crescent. However, we do not believe that this should be limited to residents of the new block. Large numbers of children from Grassmount, Forestholme Close, Forest Croft, and other flats on Taymount Rise attend Eliot Bank and Sydenham Schools. This route should be open to them and should not result in children having to wait for somebody to open the gate to let them through.

We would ask that a condition should be placed on any permission, that access should be available to all residents located on Taymount Rise to make use of this new access route. 

Social Housing

We support the London Plan and Council plan that social housing should be included in new developments of more than 9 residential units. This scheme, at 29 units, should be expected to contribute in some way to the provision of social housing in Forest Hill. 


Should permission be given for any development on the Taymount Grange site, we ask that coordination takes place between the two developers to limit traffic and noise disruption. It would be completely unreasonable for existing Taymount Grange residents to have to deal with ground drilling on both sides of their property at the same time. This may require restrictions on a development that has already been given permission or limitations on the start of work on this site until work on the previous site is completed.