The Group noted the action points that had arisen from the previous meeting.
It was noted that an email account had been set up to receive feedback concerning the sample paving that had been laid in the High Street near Kelsey Square. The associated plaque had not yet been laid. The email address was not available on the evening, and it was agreed that this be sent out with the minutes. It had previously been requested that a postal address be used for feedback as well as an email address, and this had been actioned.
Post meeting note:
The email address for comments about the paving samples is:
The Postal Address is:
Regeneration and Transformation, Strategy and Renewal, Room P49, London Borough of Bromley, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley BR13UH
The Chairman enquired if up to date plans had been uploaded onto the Bromley website. Stephen Oliver (Project Planner) stated that the latest plans would be sent for uploading the day after the meeting if they met with the approval of the Group. It was explained that the process for doing this was not straightforward, and involved submitting a request to the LBB Web Team who worked part time; this meant that it could take another 2 weeks for the plans to be uploaded and appear on the Bromley website.
It was noted that the plans could be uploaded immediately onto an external website which was http://beckenhamhighstreet.co.uk./. Chloe Jane Ross stated that the information could also be uploaded to the website of the Copers Cope Area Residents’ Association-- http://www.coperscope.org.uk/ .
The Group felt that there was a problem concerning the time taken to upload anything to the Bromley Council website. The Chairman and Cllr Sarah Phillips stated that this was an issue that could be raised as a question at the next Full Council meeting. A similar situation existed with an “Accident Map” that Chris Cole (Transport Programme and Major Projects Manager) was attempting to upload to the Bromley Council website—this had also been delayed.
The list of action points noted that an update concerning the Purple Flag status would be provided. It was also noted that an update concerning this would be provided later in the meeting as it was listed separately on the agenda. The Albemarle Road Junction action point would be dealt with under the “Traffic Update” item on the agenda.
The Group asked why there was no update provided concerning Article 4 Directions, and who the responsible officer was that had not provided the update.Chloe-Jane Ross referred to Article 4 Directions that had recently been obtained by Richmond Council, and mentioned that Article 4’s could be retrospective. In Richmond, the Secretary of State intervened to prevent Richmond’s Article 4 being retrospective, therefore LBB would need to lobby the Secretary of State not to make this intervention for Beckenham. Kevin Munnelly (Head of Renewal) stated that an Article 4 Direction may not be justified.
Marsha Berg noted that Kensington and Chelsea Council had recently put in place an Article 4 Direction that had been applied borough wide. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea made an Article 4 Direction on 15 April 2015 to remove permitted development rights for basement extensions (the Article 4 Direction defines the rights that will be removed) to single dwelling houses across the Borough. The Council consulted on the Article 4 Direction between 24 April and 8 June 2015. The Article 4 Direction was confirmed by Key Decision on 2 March 2016 and would come into force on 28 April 2016. It will apply to the entire area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Marie Pender asked for confirmation to be provided from Mary Manuel (LBB Head of Planning Strategy), concerning the planning requirements that would currently need to be met when applications to convert from office to residential were being considered. She was of the view that LBB should adopt very strong planning policies for Beckenham to maintain the town as a business and commercial centre. She felt it was important that although permitted development rights may be agreed, other planning and building regulation standards for residential development should be rigorously enforced, for example, space standards and insulation standards. The Working Group asked for confirmation from Planning Policy that these standards would be enforced rigorously
Mr Munnelly reminded the Group that an Article 4 Directive would take a year to come into force. He stated that this was a phenomenon that was happening all over London, and that the Local Government Association were lobbying the Government for change, as was the London Mayor. David Wood asked if the fact that Beckenham was situated in a Conservation Area would make a difference. Mr Munnelly responded that Article 4 sat outside Conservation Area regulations. He acknowledged that the new regulations permitting the conversion of offices into residential premises had caught many boroughs by surprise. It was a difficult situation, as there was a demand for both offices and residential premises.
Chloe Jane Ross raised a matter concerning the signing off of building regulations when it was done by external parties where borderline/grey areas may be signed off contrary to Council preferred practice. She suggested that LBB may not have the requisite in-house expertise to sign off large office to residential conversions, and that these may be signed off by third parties and consequently could present a risk.
Mr Munnelly responded that the practice of using external contractors was not because the Council lacked expertise, but to encourage competition. It was the case that the same building regulations would apply in all cases.
Mr Nick Goy asked the Chairman if he was concerned about the current permitted development rights in Beckenham. The Chairman responded that he was concerned, but that the current situation was bit like a double edged sword—there was a need for both houses and offices. Mr Goy asked if permitted development also applied to retail units. Mr Munnelly answered that it did apply in a small number of limited circumstances, but that it was not across the board.
It was noted at the meeting that not all of the offices in question in Beckenham had been vacant. It was the case that some businesses had been required to vacate.
RESOLVED that an Article 4 update for Beckenham be provided to the Working Group with the minutes.