Churchill Quarter Campaign

Help us stop this monster Council co-development which, if approved, will also set off a chain reaction of other tower blocks starting from the Churchill Theatre to the Railway and beyond, ruining this historic Town Centre forever.

row of high rises towering over 3-storey high-street

The red line on this developer’s visual shows the latest modifications to the 2018 planning application by the Council’s development partner, Countryside Properties. This application was deferred since it attracted overwhelming opposition from the public, Historic England, Councillors and residents’ groups, as well as BCS. It has now returned virtually unchanged for new public consultation.

The vast and overwhelming scale of the development would still override the national and local environmental policies relating to the Town Centre Conservation Area which surrounds the site. Historic England, the government policymakers for the historic environment, slammed the development as harmful to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area but little has changed in this new revised proposal. Some built elements are smaller and others are bigger.

The CQ Proposed Development

Two rows of giant tower blocks are still being proposed which would loom over the High Street as well as Library Gardens and Church House Gardens. 7-storey to 11-storey tower blocks, rising to 13-storey and 15-storey tower blocks, are proposed for the boundary of Library Gardens and taller than the Theatre/Library tower. Sandwiched between and overshadowed by the parallel blocks is a so called ‘promenade’ amenity space for the residents to share with the public – little compensation for the harm being done to Library Gardens.

Harm to Library Gardens

This miraculous oasis of open sky and trees, still surviving in the heart of the busy Town Centre Conservation Area, will be overshadowed by a cliff face of buildings, robbed of sunlight even in
the height of summer. The Gardens will become an extension of the High Street with retail units along the ground floor frontage overlooked by balconies and windows. (Developer’s earlier visuals on the left).

What a sad end to the generous gift of land to the people of Bromley by Emily Dowling in 1900 which so well preserves the sense of being in the heart of a Country Market Town. Unwisely, left in the care of the local authority, look how it is to be treated in this Council co-development. Astonishingly, it is claimed this development is an ‘enhancement’ of Library Gardens!

Harm to Queens Mead and the Ravensbourne Valley Skyline

Like Library Gardens, Queens Mead is also part of the Town Centre Conservation Area which preserves the semi-rural vista essentially unchanged for more than 1,000 years of Bromley’s existence. It is designated for its historic character and appearance which the Council has a statutory duty to ‘preserve or enhance’. Does this development preserve or enhance? NO

The Tower Block Chain Reaction

Two further developments are already waiting in the wings:
(1) A new ‘Maplin’s Corner’ 16-storey twin tower application (current
planning ref: 21/03231/FULL1) has been lodged despite the previous 12-
storey single tower having been refused a few months ago. The Council received over 100 objections in the first 2 days ! (2) Alongside the Maplin site is a 20-storey proposal, still in pre-application consultation (pic on right).
Both developers are citing the Churchill Quarter as justifying the size of their own developments (developer visuals).

Plight of Residents on the CQ site

The residents and owners of the 40 homes in Ethelbert Close have been living under the threat of compulsory purchase by the Council for years but are no nearer knowing what’s going to happen to them. If the Development Control Committee approves the scheme, the Council will then serve Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) notices. If the CPO is approved the Council will become the site owner. As freeholder of the land, they will then grant a long lease to Countryside Properties for an undisclosed sum, at the expense of the resident community.

How can you take action?

Do please join us in objecting to this development and fighting to preserve our unique historic town. Make your views known at this stage and again when a planning application is lodged. Comments can be made as follows:

Countryside Properties have created a consultation website:

https://churchillquarterbromley.co.uk

Here you can access a recent public Webinar presentation with some visuals and discussion using the 3-bar drop down menu top right on the homepage. There is also a page to comment. Do please copy any comments to the Town Centre Ward Councillors who are also opposing the development and, if possible, to Bromley Civic Society and The Friends of Bromley Parks & Gardens – email addresses below.

Face to Face Consulation

The Webinar visuals and information, will also be available to view and comment on at two face-to-face public presentation sessions on Thursday 23rd September 2021 from 2.00-6.00 p.m. and Saturday 25th September 2021 from 10.00 a.m.-2.00 p.m. in the vacant shop unit at 95 High Street beside H&M and opposite Robert Dyas. It is unclear what Covid precautions will be in place so those who do not wish to or cannot attend, or cannot access the website, are asked to ring Countryside Properties on 020 3929 0523 to obtain a ‘Consultation Pack’.

Bromley Civic Society and The Friends of Bromley Town Parks & Gardens will also publish information on our websites, circulating this to the wider public through social media as well. If you would like to receive further information, such as when the final planning application is lodged, please forward your name and email address to cqcampaign@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk.

Contact Details

Websites
Developer’s Website: https://churchillquarterbromley.co.uk
The Friends of Bromley Town Parks & Gardens

Emails
BCS CQ Campaign: cqcampaign@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk
Friends of Bromley Town Parks and Gardens: chair@bromleytownparks.org.uk

Ward Councillors
Cllr. Nicky Dykes: nicky.dykes@bromley.gov.uk
Cllr. Will Harmer: will.harmer@bromley.gov.uk
Cllr. Michael Rutherford: michael.rutherford@bromley.gov.uk.

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New Conservation Area in Shortlands! And Bromley’s Conservation Area is extended!

We are delighted to announce that, last month, Bromley Council agreed to a new conservation area for Shortlands! And to extend the one in Bromley Town Centre.

The new conservation Area in Shortlands Village
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Thank you for responding!

We have been told that the proposals to spend £1.2m on the B&Q giant green house, and two basket-shaped concrete sculptures, have been dropped!

A triffid funnel, massive glass house, and double-funnel
The High Street ‘Regeneration’ proposals – The Council chose a company whose ‘house style’ is funnels and previous installations of large glass houses. It could’ve been so good.

We couldn’t do it without everyone’s help, sharing the news, and writing to object.

Thank you!

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Let’s NOT spend £1m on a giant greenhouse in the High Street – never mind the two recycled basket funnel sculptures.

The proposal is for the council to spend £1.2million on this ‘Street Clutter’ from money scrimped and saved from other contracts, such as park maintenance.  It is being rushed through so they can construct them in June.

Our money is paying for this “High Street Regeneration”:

  • a giant green house in front of some lovely High Street buildings (the Aberdeen buildings, see more here) containing a stepped stage and kinked line of school style tables, and for
  • two ill-considered funnel sculptures on the High Street.

A triffid funnel, massive glass house, and double-funnel

The High Street ‘Regeneration’ proposals.  From left to right: A fountain to link to St Blaise’s well; this is supposed to look like the broom flower.  A huge greenhouse blocking the front of the 1887 French Empire frontage.  And this double concrete funnel is not how the Time Machine is depicted elsewhere.  The Council chose designers whose ‘house style’ is funnels and who have previous installations of large glass houses. What a missed opportunity.

The funnel designs are recycled from a failed bid for the Sudanese peace memorial, and are previously used in several shopping centre proposals. This is not the architect’s fault – this is what our council and/or it’s planners, chose from their bidding process. Whilst the designers consulted the Civic Society as an identified stakeholder, they were never going to take our suggestions on board and amend these poor choices, as the outlines of these designs had been picked by our Council/civil servants.

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Thanks to your help – Maplin tower block rejected by one vote!

We are grateful to everyone who took the time to object to this development.

vertical car park building
66-70 high street proposed 12 storeys behind Maplins

The Development and Control Committee voted 9 to 8 to reject the proposal for the ugly dominating tower over the former Maplins shop.

Losing the application by one vote, means that it is very likely to go to appeal. Still, it is much better to go to appeal than have this block. The latest set of plans were significantly different from the original proposals; the tower was reduced in height (but not enough) and the lovely neo-Georgian shopfront was retained (good) but reduced to a façade (bad). It was still a homage to 1960’s brutalism.

The worst thing about the application was that it would be cited as precedent, so that the other 8 high-rises would be almost certain to be approved:

The current Neo-Georgian building on the corner of Ethelbert Road:

neo-gothic brick shop with pediments and scooped skyline
Neo-Gothic shop with juliet balconies and pediments over the windows
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EMAIL NOW – Or this will be approved next week:

Bromley council’s planning officers have recommended that our Development and control committee should approve a 12-storey high rise to be built over the former Maplin’s shop on the corner of Ethelbert Road.  This means that it’s almost certain to go ahead.

vertical car park block towers over high street
Dominates the high street
vertical car park building
66-70 high street proposed 12 storeys behind Maplins

Bearing in mind the council elections are in May, please email as many of the following as you can?

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Write to say ‘No’ to the Draft Open Space Strategy

This draft strategy is the plan for our Parks, open- and green-spaces for the next ten years. The devil is in the (very) small print: to rank and ‘dispose’ of an unnamed number of parks/open spaces. The council has provided a survey for you to input your views. However, it seems to mislead the participant into (1) filling in their open space usage (2) focussing on the least controversial content of the Strategy (which is conveniently hidden in size 6 font in a sideways table). Instead, you might also want to email: william@ocat.co.uk (portfolio holder) James.Hilsden@bromley.gov.uk & will.harmer@bromley.gov.uk with the following points (putting them in your own words would be good):

* we need is an Open Space Strategy in which the Council “brave enough” to resist ‘repurposing‘ of any more Open Space. This comment leads on to our conviction that open spaces are a precious amenity and there should be no question of ‘development’ or ‘disposal’ for whatever reason.

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Comments on the Supplementary Planning Document consultation

oval of proposed high-rises compared with oval of nicer ones
comparison of proposed overbearing designs with nicer modern developments (as built in Kent this year)

This summer the council has run a consultation to decide whether to issue supplementary planning guidance for Bromley and Orpington town centres.

The consultation was run by Commonplace and closed 5th October 2020. You can view the comments people made by clicking the [View Comments] button at the bottom of each theme’s page: overview.

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2020 BROOMTIME IN BROMLEY

Broom bushes on hillside covered in flowers
This year’s broom flowers on Martins Hill parkland

Here’s the first of the articles from our August 2020 newsletter, the full contents of which, has been sent to members. Please support our work to promote and save our heritage, by joining the town’s civic society – a snip at £10 a household. 


Thank goodness for our wonderful Town Centre Parks which have offered such a respite from the lockdown! 

Albeit that they’ve been a bit overwhelmed at times by people with nowhere else to go.  

Martin’s Hill (pictured here) was ablaze with colour from our namesake flowering shrub, the Broom from mid April to late May.  The grassland is a rare example of acid grassland. It is good to see how good it looks after the work to clear invasive bushes.

Queens Mead took on something of a festival air reminiscent of Victorian and Edwardian times when it was the venue for fairs, circuses and fetes. In those times, too, enjoyment of our open spaces was a fundamental part of a visit to Bromley. In recent times they have been almost forgotten but now is the time to reinvent what Bromley is all about and rediscover the significance of our precious green space heritage.

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Join BCS (and calling all existing members!)

If you care about Bromley and its heritage and green spaces, please support us by joining the Society. Membership per household is only £10 per year. You can join or renew your membership either by visiting our membership portal. or by sending a cheque with a letter giving your full name, postal address, where possible your email address, and a contact telephone number to the Membership Secretary, 3 Hayes Road, Bromley BR2 9AF.

Joining will mean that you receive our regular newsletter emails, and help fund our efforts to save our historic town centre being dominated by tower blocks.

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Robert Dyas – a surprise Bromley resident

victorian gentleman with fine moustache
Robert Dyas

It has been good to welcome a branch of Robert Dyas now open in Bromley High Street and even more so since it has been discovered by staff at the Local Studies Library that Robert Dyas lived for the last 30 years of his life in Blyth Road, just off Beckenham Lane, in the Town Centre.    

Please object to the development, here at planning reference no : 19/04183 1, Blyth Road, Bromley BR1 3RS
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Picturehouse is new home for rescued Art Deco Screens

coloured ray screen
Restored Art Deco screen, from Widmore Road co-op, at The PIcturehouse Cinema

“Look out in the new Picturehouse Cafe for the Art Deco screens from the former Co-op in Widmore Road.

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Write To Stop Sell-Off of more Public Heritage Open Space

The site is part of the Bishop of Rochester’s Palace Park which is the setting of 6 listed buildings

stone and flint mini tower with arched window
To Be LOST: the stone-and-flint folly from the Bishops Palace – made with fragments found in the Moat during restoration work in the 19th Century

Please write and object to this sale to :David Mark Bowen, Director of Corporate Services, LB Bromley, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH  or email it to : mark.bowen@bromley.gov.uk    Mark it Proposed sale of land at Bromley Civic Centre  and include your name address and postcode otherwise it will not be accepted.  Don’t be put off by this mad deadline !:  Copies to the Ward Councillors and BCS would be welcome.
CllrNicky.Dykes@bromley.gov.uk   William.Harmer@bromley.gov.uk   Michael.Rutherford@bromley.gov.uk
chair@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

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Don’t Clutter Market Square

We like our Market Square with enough open space for our market – If you want to continue to have our market in Market Square, find a moment to object to this planning proposal 19_00241: https://searchapplications.bromley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=PLEVE4BTJHM00

The Garden Shed style additions to Market Square
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Broom time – Heritage Event

The annual flowering of the shrub, from which Bromley takes its name, takes place on Martin’s Hill mid April to the end of May and we recommend all visitors and locals to witness this event of living history so fundamental to the heritage of Bromley Town.

Tony Banfield, Chair of Bromley Civic Society Heritage officer – The Friends of Bromley Town Parks
Yellow flowered bush on hillside, with war memorial obelisk behind.

Just two minutes walk from Market Square along Church Road behind Primark, Bromley’s name- sake shrub burst into spectacular bloom on Martin’s Hill. The name ‘Bromley’ is from the Anglo Saxon ‘Bromleag’ or ‘Broomleigh’ literally meaning Broom meadow.

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Churchill Quarter Planning Application

The planning application for the “Churchill Quarter” development in Bromley town centre has now been submitted (planning reference: 18/02181).

The development, adjacent to library gardens, is a co-development with the Council providing the land and Countryside Properties responsible for building and operations.

Before and after images showing the effect of the development can be seen on the right.

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Stop the monster Council co-development and its chain reaction of tower blocks down the High Street

Developers visual of their high-rises towering over our High Street. The red lines are our adjustment for the minimal 2021 changes.

Help us stop the development of ‘Churchill Quarter’ – or as we call it, ‘how to ruin the heart of an historic Town Centre’.

If this development is approved, it will set off a chain reaction of other tower blocks, starting from the Churchill Theatre to the Railway and beyond, forever ruining our Town Centre.

Read and share our flyer: https://www.bromleycivicsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Churchill-Quarter-BCS-Update-Sept21.pdf

Join us in objecting to this development and fighting to preserve our unique historic town, by:

  • attend face-to-face public presentation sessions on Thursday 23rd September 2021 from 2-6pm. and Saturday 25th September 2021 from 10am-2pm in the vacant shop unit at 95 High Street beside H&M and opposite Robert Dyas.
  • add comments at the developer’s site: https://churchillquarterbromley.co.uk – please copy your comments to the ward councilors, nicky.dykes@bromley.gov.uk, will.harmer@bromley.gov.uk, michael.rutherford@bromley.gov.uk, and ourselves at: chair@bromleytownparks.org.uk.
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Famous People – Sir John Lubbock

The Lubbock family lived in the mansion house of High Elms, near Downe. Sir John Lubbock (born 1834) was the son of Sir John Lubbock (born 1801) and was a banker for his family company.

He is best known for his “antiquarian” interests (nowadays this spans the disciplines of Geology, Archaeology, and Social History) and he conversed and corresponded with Charles Darwin about evolution and his academic interests – they were neighbours and exchanged land.

On the national stage, he was notable for saving the site Avebury Circle in 1871, as the stones were being broken up for building (it is now a World Heritage site). This is why, when his Baronetcy was raised to Baron, his peerage was named to Avebury. He also came up with the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic to describe the Old and New stone ages.

As an MP, Sir John Lubbock introduced bank holidays – Bank Holidays Act 1871.

His mansion was left to the council, when it was used as an art college and then a home for nurses. In 1967 it was burnt to the ground. The outline of his terraced gardens can be explored in the country park, and there are bricks in the grass to show where the walls of the house were.

There is a Lubbock collection of art and artefacts (see here) and some of this is on display at the Central Library, since the Bromley Museum at the Orpington Priory has closed.

Farnborough village history have an informative article on the Lubbocks at High Elms, here: https://www.farnborough-kent-village.org.uk/lubbock_high_elms.html

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The sabotaged bomb at The Greyhound

When I was living in Bromley, during the war I was staying with my grandparents in Sharpes cottages when a bomb dropped into the carpark of the Greyhound hotel and no more than 50 feet from where I was sleeping. It didn’t explode and was later found to have been sabotaged during assembly by French workers with ”bon chance” written inside the bomb casing.
I was probably four years old at the time of the incident.

Brian

high street n pub sign with dog on it
1960s number 205 High St, The Greyhound sign n zodiac
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Incendiary bombs and ARP wardens at Havelock Brick Pit.. by Arthur Sheppeck

Mr Arthur Sheppeck

Some recollections from Arthur Sheppeck, who played in the brickfield, mainly from 1941 to 1949. He remembers the Brick Pit being 60 feet deep.

He told Friends of Havelock Rec, in 2015:

‘One day, one of the ARP wardens approached us boys. He told us “For God’s sake don’t do what I’m going to do” and he took an incendiary bomb he was carrying and lobbed it into the pit. It exploded with a blinding flash of white light, and the warden told us “that could have been you”. I can tell you, it fair put the wind up us…!’

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