Lib Dems' formal objection to Walnuts proposals submitted

Orpington Lib Dems last week submitted their response to Areli’s proposals for the Walnuts to Bromley’s Planning Department, and also welcomed the objection letter submitted by Orpington’s MP, Gareth Bacon.

The Lib Dem’s objection follows a survey of residents carried out earlier this year,  conversations with residents, its assessment of the town’s needs, and an alternative vision for the town centre.  The Lib Dems believe that the pre-planning consultation process which Areli undertook was flawed, and/or reported in a biased way, and that the developer has lost the trust of the local population as a result.

The objection is based on the following major concerns:

  1. Height of the towers and out of character with the neighbourhood;
  2. Lack of clarity on facilities in the new leisure centre and likely long period of closure;
  3. whether the proposal will provide sufficient social and affordable housing, as well as private sales;
  4. increased pressure on infrastructure – such as health and education opportunities for the new and current residents; and
  5. Transport issues – parking, congestion and a long period of disruption while the building work takes place.

Undoubtedly the Walnuts Centre and adjacent municipal areas could benefit from renewal and regeneration, building on progress already made with the cinema and Premier Inn. It is not easy to get investment and there is potential opportunity for the town in having a developer looking to make this level of investment. However, Orpington needs a complete plan, and not just one that produces expensive flats and a tidy profit for the developer: there are too many unanswered questions and loose ends with what has been proposed.

The Lib Dem alternative vision would be for a smaller scale development, not reaching any higher than the neighbouring buildings, with public services better protected during the building programme. We recognise the need for more housing and agree that there is potential for further residential development here, but a reduction in the number of proposed flats is likely required. Furthermore, this piecemeal proposal does not contain sufficient guarantee that the promises of a better municipal area and improved public facilities will in fact be delivered.

Bromley Council will soon be starting a public consultation on a new plan for Orpington, the Supplementary Planning Document, which, when adopted, will vary Bromley’s Planning rules relating to Orpington Town Centre. Among various things, it  may loosen current requirements relating to height of tall buildings - the Lib Dems will push for the views expressed in the many comments made by residents (over 3000 comments) to the Planning Department in relation to Areli’s application to be taken into account in the Supplementary Planning Document. 

Our objection letter is here.

If you would like to be kept informed of our views on this issue, please complete the survey and provide your details.

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