Description of application – Demolition of existing buildings (6-10 Sherman Road) and redevelopment with a mixed-use, 23-storey scheme comprising 219 Build to Rent apartments, flexible class B1/D1 floorspace, car and cycle parking, associated access and public realm improvements.
Oral representations in support of the application were received from the applicant’s agent, Mr Charles Mills.
Mr Mills outlined the scheme which was a product of joint working with Network Rail and collaborative working with the GLA and Bromley Council. The application site was identified in the Area Action Plan as suitable for a tall building. Considered to be of high architectural quality, the building would bring significant benefits to the community as well as providing much needed accommodation for rent and affordable housing.
Historic England had acknowledged the public benefits of the scheme namely:-
· delivery of 219 new residential units – 34% of the borough’s annual housing target;
· the provision of 43 new affordable housing units;
· new office floor space;
· new community meeting space;
· 360 new cycle parking spaces;
· improvements to Bromley North Station and the new public square; and
· enhancing the vibrancy and vitality of the area.
Throughout the consultation period there had been demonstrable support for the scheme, particularly from young people in the borough.
In regard to the public consultation, Councillor Dykes asked how seriously the views of respondees were taken into account considering the height of the tower block had been increased, contrary to the request for a smaller building. Mr Mills stated the consultation was taken very seriously and a number of changes recommended by officers had been made. The height of the building was changed to accommodate additional affordable housing.
Councillor Harmer reported that over 80% of respondees were opposed to the 20 storey scheme which was increased to 23 storeys. Historic England considered the scale of the proposal would visually compete with the modest market town character of the Conservation Area. He questioned Mr Mills’ view that feedback to the consultation had been positive. Mr Mills reported that whilst Historic England had raised concerns, they considered them to be outweighed by the wider public benefits of the scheme.
Councillor Allen asked if any attempt had been made to acquire the neighbouring site in order to create a more sensible scheme. Mr Mills confirmed that efforts had been made but were unsuccessful.
Councillor Fawthrop suggested a smaller scale building would be more viable even if it resulted in less affordable housing provision. Mr Mills considered the need for additional affordable housing to be an important element of the scheme.
Oral representations were received from visiting Member Councillor Peter Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation and Housing who objected to the scheme on the following grounds:-
· overlooking of nearby homes and gardens;
· possible interference to TV broadcasts and waves;
· enhancing the already serious car parking problems in the area; and
· whilst the provision of housing was of great importance, the height of the proposed building was not suitable for this site. A maximum of eight storeys would suffice.
Members then debated the application. Councillor Harmer considered the building to be of little architectural merit and moved that the application be refused, on the grounds as stated in the report. The proposed building was too tall and not of exceptional standard. Whilst the site was identified in Bromley’s Area Action Plan for development, the scheme would not contribute to the character of the town centre. The accommodation barely complied with minimum standards and would impact on the amenity of residents living in the building and surrounding area. The use of office space should be protected.
Councillor Rutherford seconded the motion to refuse the application.
Councillor Dykes agreed with the officers’ concerns in the report in respect of the listed station building and the adjacent Conservation Area. She also considered the building to be too tall for this particular site. The proposal would not respect and enhance the character of the Bromley North Station area and would create major parking problems. The applicant had ignored the concerns and advice given by Ward Councillors to improve the scheme.
Referring to Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTALs), Councillor Fawthrop advised that vehicles were still used in high PTAL areas which often led to serious parking problems. Such would be the case with this application site.
Whilst Councillor Allen urged the Council to be more proactive in driving forward applications for this site to include mixed residential and office schemes, she did not support this particular application.
The Chairman stated that the application site covered just a small percentage of the area identified as site A in Bromley’s Area Action Plan. She suggested the whole site be brought forward and looked at in regard to mixed use.
Following a unanimous vote, Members RESOLVED that PERMISSION BE REFUSED – SUBJECT TO ANY DIRECTION FROM THE MAYOR OF LONDON as recommended, for the reasons set out in the report of the Chief Planner.