How high is too high?

How do we balance the urgent need for more housing with our desire to protect the identity of the town we love?

Residents in Bromley Town are facing a tsunami of looming planning applications for new blocks of flats which will change the town centre forever. As Councillors we are determined to stand up for the best interests of local people; supporting positive regeneration plans that will enhance our town, but fight against massive overbearing developments that would not. 

We recognise that there is an urgent need for more housing. We need the right homes in the right place, for those that want to join our Bromley community. We do not want developments that only target short term lets; we want to build communities. We particularly need truly affordable homes, including social housing and a range of housing suitable for people looking for their first homes as well as those looking for their last. 

It is vital that we protect the quality of life for everyone who lives and works in Bromley Town, which includes ensuring access to vital services including health, education and transport and protecting their neighbourhood’s identity and sense of community. 

Each planning application has to be assessed on its own merits and we regularly talk to residents most closely affected by these proposals to make sure we’re representing their views. Few of these decisions are going to be easy.The planning application from John Lewis is a good example of just how difficult these decisions are going to be. John Lewis & Partners propose to build giant towers on the Waitrose site. The largest of the two giant towers would be 24 storeys, a full 7 storeys higher than the largest tower nearby (Perigon Heights). We will oppose this application because we believe the height will set a precedent for higher towers in future applications and because of the overwhelming impact on local services that are already stretched to their limit, particularly including roads, public transport and health. But there was a lot to welcome in other aspects of this proposal - designed specifically for the rental sector where there is a real need for extra accommodation, provision for affordable housing and enhancement of the public realm in a part of the town centre that is looking shabby. 

By contrast we are broadly in favour of the proposal to build 75 flats on the Bromley North car park in Station Road. At 5 storeys it won’t dwarf the nearby housing, 50% of the units are for social housing and the development will bring improvements to the public realm with a neighbourhood square. We would love to see a similar development at 1 Westmoreland Road for example, but without intervention from the Council sites like these are in the hands of commercial developers whose main objective is to achieve the best financial return. It’s up to us to oppose inappropriate developments while helping to develop clear planning guidelines and restraints for future developments.

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