Lib Dems Respond to Bromley Local Plan Consultation

2 Jul 2023

Bromley Liberal Democrats have formally responded to the consultation on the Local Plan for Bromley. It's a lengthy document which you can read here.

The Local Plan is used to help decide on planning applications and other planning related decisions. In effect, it is a guide to what can be built where, shaping infrastructure investments and determining the future pattern of development in the borough.The local plan is reviewed every 5 years and a review of the Bromley plan is due in 2024. This consultation is the first phase of preparing that new Local Plan.

The Lib Dems' response to the consultation highlights some key challenges that the local plan should address:

  • the need to deliver new homes,
  • the climate emergency,
  • ensuring our shopping and commercial centres thrive,
  • helping businesses grow,
  • protecting our natural environment and green spaces, and 
  • creating safe, healthy and inclusive communities where health and wellbeing is at the centre of future plans. 

While considering our response to this consultation, we have been conscious of the need to stand up for the best interests of local people, to support and enable positive regeneration plans which will enhance our communities. We have a responsibility to current and future generations to safeguard what is good about Bromley and support developments that will enhance and improve our borough.

Some of the key points we cover in our response include:

Providing homes: there is a desperate housing shortage and providing homes needs to be a priority. However these homes need to be in the right place, of the right type and the right price to provide a range of accommodation for Bromley residents throughout their lives, particularly including social and affordable housing. 

Social and affordable housing is vital to guarantee that the low-waged members of our communities are not increasingly forced to move out of the Borough to meet their housing needs. It is essential to retaining key workers, demographically mixed households and those who contribute so much to our communities. We would like to see a significant increase in the amount and range of social rent properties provided, especially for those who are disabled, vulnerable and older. 

We would like to see all new housing developments provide at least 50 per cent of the total number of habitable rooms as affordable housing on site. 

Responding to the Climate Emergency - we need to address the urgent need to minimise our environmental impact, as well as planning for the adverse impacts of climate change. The local plan needs to address the challenges of climate change, our responsibility for reducing flood risk, cutting emissions and improving air quality, and following the principles of a circular economy. New developments should meet high standards for sustainable design, increased urban greening and tackle the biodiversity loss by protecting species and habitats, and enable them to adapt to a changing climate. The Local Plan needs to improve resilience against climate change, reinforce the Council’s commitment to become carbon neutral, and support residents in reducing their climate impact. 

Help our commercial centres and businesses to thrive - post Covid the business community has faced major challenges, the plan needs to encourage a range of adaptable workspace where entrepreneurs and start ups can thrive while being an attractive location for well established businesses. 

We appreciate that some of the current office space in the borough’s town centres will need to be enhanced and updated in order to adequately service the needs of modern working practices and future environmental legislation but would, nevertheless, like to see Local Plan policy favour a ‘retrofit first’ approach. In the event of demolition and replacement, proposed developments should achieve the highest possible sustainability standards incorporating measures such as green infrastructure which can help in air quality, cooling and flood mitigation.

There should be active promotion of flexible and affordable workspaces to allow us to respond to changing business needs as well as create robust and future-proofed places of local employment. 

Employers will need to know that they can attract future employees to the borough, focus on promoting the night time economy, supporting the cultural life of the borough and making our town centres places people want to visit will support this. Significant improvements to the public transport infrastructure will be key. 

Create safe, healthy and inclusive communities where health and wellbeing is at the centre of future plans. This includes reducing the need to travel and improving the choices for more sustainable travel. Healthy streets that encourage active travel should be a key priority. With an ageing population there is a need to ensure sections of the population do not feel excluded and isolated. Accessibility must be prioritised, from seats at bus stops, to wheelchair accessible shops, to pavements that are wide enough for mobility vehicles, to tactile paving to help visually impaired residents. We want our communities to be truly inclusive.

Priority must be given to reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, noise pollution and light pollution.

We’d like to see true ambition in our transport policy - trams, light rail, new bus services, car clubs, shared car ownerships and more. We have a vision of a borough where active travel is the preference for many. Families should be able to walk and cycle to school safely with clean air around them. 

Protecting what is special about Bromley, including our heritage and culture, ensuring new developments enhance the character of our borough and our historic buildings, parks and conservation areas are protected and cherished. 

The historic environment of Bromley should be afforded the highest possible protection in order that key heritage assets are safeguarded and preserved for future generations. Many of the historic buildings and parks have been gifted to Bromley residents by beneficiaries from long ago, it is questionable what right the current administration has to sell off, destroy or fail to maintain these assets thereby depriving them from future generations. These assets not only offer a profound sense of place and distinctiveness but also serve as tangible representations of the significant benefits to a community of exemplary design and planning in sustaining the essence of a place. 

The protection of ‘heritage assets’ should extend beyond individual buildings, protected views and open spaces and acknowledge that they form a collective unifying impression of the borough’s historical importance. The preservation of publicly owned land, local parks and heritage assets should be made a priority in the Local Plan and in no part developed or disposed of without extensive public consultation and clear justification.

Protect and create green spaces, increase the quality and accessibility, tackle biodiversity loss and encourage the creation of new green spaces and promote more greenery in every public realm. Green space and infrastructure play a vital part in conserving biodiversity and improving climate change resilience but there is also increasing recognition of the benefits it can have, both physically and mentally, to those who dwell in urban areas. Whilst past generations of the borough were regularly afforded access to their own garden space the current generations may not be so fortunate. The local plan should therefore prioritise accessibility to all current park space, especially in the town centres and encourage the improvement of connections between existing green space and in the provision of amenities which encourage residents to linger in green spaces, such as public toilets/baby changing facilities, innovative and aesthetically attractive hard and soft landscaping and physical spaces which can encourage local community groups and individuals to engage with nature and take part in sporting activities.




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