We published our own response to the Bromley Masterplan in August, we've now heard from the MP for Bromley & Chislehurst (Bob Neill) and it's good to hear that there's a general consensus across parties on the response to this plan. You can see his letter here.
His response is about the Masterplan for Bromley Town centre but there are planning applications about several important developments, links shown at the bottom of this article.
The Liberal Democrat View
These plans will change Bromley beyond recognition over the next 15-20 years. We are not opposed to development - every town centre must change over time if it is thrive and stay current - but we are opposed to several elements of these plans and the approach being taken.
The town centre needs an all round plan, offering a long term holistic approach that plans for housing, transport, health, education, our environment, as well as commercial and retail opportunities. Many of these services are already at breaking point, the focus on building first and providing services second is not workable.
For residential developments the emphasis must be on the provision of affordable housing, both for sale and for rent. Bromley Liberal Democrats have a clear housing policy including ensuring 35% of all new homes built are affordable, and that new homes must include some social housing. Bromley is fast becoming an area that is unaffordable to many of our friends and family, for key public workers and for lots of the people we rely on to run our vital services. We need a mix of people of all ages and income brackets to build a Bromley for the future.
The plans should incorporate strategies that encourage walking and cycling and use of public transport, building and redesigning roads and junctions that are safe for everyone as well as improving health and air quality, and which improves the neighbourhood by creating green spaces and community hubs.
And we want to make sure that Bromley is still Bromley - it should still feel and looks like the town we all love, so that it retains its heritage and the facilities we appreciate are preserved - Library Gardens (next to the Churchill Theatre) is under threat from the Churchilll Quarter plan for example. The high rise buildings that form part of this development will dwarf the High Street and neighbouring street, dominating the skyline for residents living up to a mile away.
It is vital that there is full consultation with the local population, and that the people who express a view feel they are listened to - we would like the council to set targets for how many replies to the consultation should be received, and if it is not enough to go further, perhaps employing 3rd parties to reach out and hear the people's views.
Consideration for residents must be paramount. The residents around Bromley South have already suffered years of disruption during the building of St Marks Square, the Masterplan promises them more misery, and the residents of Ethelbert Close have been under planning blight for 6+ years - threatened compulsory purchase orders means they've been unable to sell their homes, and they face uncertainty about whether any compensation offered will be enough for them to purchase a comparable home nearby.
Tell the Council what you think - before it's too late
On each of the pages listed above we provide links for you to take part in consultation about the different developments, and where there are none you can register your views on our own survey so that your views can be communicated to the council.
Our detailed response to current planning proposals
Liberal Democrats across the country have been speaking to voters about how disastrous Brexit is going to be, and Bromley Liberal Democrats will be holding their own conversations with local people on their action weekend on 8-9 September. We'll be holding street stalls (with our famous Brexometer) in Bromley, Beckenham and Orpington and we'd like to hear people's views on how the Brexit process is going.
Here are the dates and locations for our stalls:
Saturday 8th September – Beckenham High Street, outside Marks & Spencer, 10.30am to 3pm
Saturday 8th September – Orpington High Street, outside W H Smiths, 10.30 to 3pm
Sunday 9th September – Bromley High Street, outside WH Smiths, 11am to 3.30pm
Please come along and join in the conversation. If you can't make it to our street stalls please let us know your views by completing our survey here
The new owners of the Royal Bell in Bromley High Street are planning a 5 star hotel with a significant extension at the back to provide enough rooms to make the enterprise financially viable. We welcome the new scheme, it is an opportunity to rescue this significant building from it's current decay, the design is exciting and the new owners have taken time to consult widely with the local population, the local heritage societies and across all political parties. The planning application is now live and comments can be filed using this link.
The new Bullers Wood School for Boys will open on this site (corner of Masons Hill and Westmoreland Road) on 10 September 2018. If they win their appeal against the refusal of planning permission on their intended long term site (St Hugh's playing fields) they are expected to move by the end of 2019 (see our page on school places).
The SHaW Academy had their application to build a 1260 pupil secondary school on this site refused in 2017 and they are appealing this decision. It now seems likely that the school will be built on this site as it has appeared in Bromley Council's School Place Strategy.
The LibDems are opposed to using this site for a large secondary school. We continue to support the creation of Bullers Wood School for Boys as well as the SHaW Academy but not on this site. We supported the decision to locate BWSB here for a short term period that would enable the school to start accepting pupils - a vital step in the formation of this much wanted and community-backed school. However as a permanent site for a large secondary school it is simply not right - see background information below.
Local residents are opposed to the siting of a school here - we have carried out our own opinion poll, and there are community groups who have spoken out against it. Local conservative councillors have promised their support to these groups, but the Council released their School Place Strategy document shortly after the election and the SHaW Academy features in this plan as an essential part of their strategy to cope with the shortage of secondary school places in the Borough. It also features in the recently released Masterplan for the High Street.
What can you do?
In order to ensure no school is located on this site, the area must lose its designation as a suitable site for an educational establishment; the local plan is still in draft so it is not too late to change this. The local Conservative councillors have pledged to oppose the school, but unless there is a change to the designation these are empty promises. Please write or email to them to ask that they take the necessary steps for this redesignation.
Please sign our petition against siting this school here
The recently published Masterplan has been widely publicised in respect of the plans for the Churchill Quarter but it also includes significant plans for more development in Bromley South.