BCS Churchill Quarter Campaign – Update November 2021

Here are some of the latest visuals that the Council’s development partner, Countryside Properties, have released alongside our photos showing how the area looks now.  There are no significant changes from the 2018 planning application, and proposals for Library Gardens are even worse. 

The developer’s latest visual of the appalling impact on our precious public open space (above) is described merely as “a new backdrop to Library Gardens”!  The new BCS ‘before and after’ visuals (below) show the impact on the entrance and High Street end of Library Gardens in the notable absence of any such visuals from the developer.

Following our leafletting campaign in September, it is clear that there is a groundswell of opposition to this development.  Many people have written to us expressing their horror at this proposal. 

Comments include:
 

●      “That LBB are considering such a proposal is appalling and horrifying in the face of the past 4 years of HUGE opposition from the public, Historic England, residents’ groups, associations, councillors, etc. This vast, ugly and overwhelming development will brutalise the character of our beautiful and historic Town Centre.”
 
●      “Has infrastructure been considered?
 
1…Oversubscribed doctors’ surgeries,
2…Oversubscribed schools.
3…Car parking
4…What effect of these vast buildings is it estimated to have on our Victorian sewerage and water systems?
5…Untold detrimental effect on wildlife.” 

●      “I will be able to see this from our house in Shortlands and it is worrying that it is being proposed again.”

●      “This proposal directly flies in the face of the policy against ‘tall buildings’ which is supposed to inform planning in the town centre and be adhered to. The need is for lower rise development.” 

●      “I would strongly oppose any tower blocks being built as they are unsightly, why not construct buildings no taller than existing ones? Bromley High Street has retained its charm & the park offers peace & tranquillity without having any intrusive tower blocks overlooking it.” 

●      “Whilst [I] am in favour of modernisation and development done appropriately, I am afraid to say that the proposals fall far short of this.  The significant reduction to the green spaces and creation of excessively tall buildings is something I cannot support.  If this goes ahead it will only mean a worse quality of life for Bromley residents and a degradation of the existing area.”

●      “The plans destroy the current entrance to Library Gardens.”

●      “… entirely out of keeping with the historical character of this market town and its surroundings.”

●      “All the features that single Bromley out as the fine and lovely market town that it is … would be permanently spoiled by the construction of monolithic tower blocks. The impact on and damage to the environment, the wildlife and the Conservation Area would be irreparable.”

●      “There are neither the amenities nor the infrastructure to support a high-density population that would result from these tower blocks.”
 
●      “How much would this development really contribute to affordable housing and meeting the housing need?” 

●      “The whole design of the development would take away the character of Bromley and Bromley would not be Bromley anymore.”
It is a matter of the utmost concern to us that it has been left to the developers to ‘consult’ with the public about this development. 

This is a scheme initiated and guided by the Council and will only be made possible by the use of the Council’s Compulsory Purchase powers to acquire the land from the homeowners in Ethelbert Close.

It is surely incumbent upon the Council to engage with the community directly, not only to explain their reasoning and justification for these proposals but more importantly to answer any questions that may be put to them about it.  So far, the whole process has been non-transparent.

What action are we taking?

BCS are in the process of writing to all 60 Bromley Councillors, including the Council Leader, Colin Smith, to let them know our views and to urge them to bring their influence to bear to have this ill-conceived and damaging development withdrawn. 

We are telling the Councillors that, whilst we accept that there is a need for housing in the Borough, the sort of tower blocks that are being proposed for the Churchill Quarter site are wholly inappropriate and any development in this location needs to be low rise. The reasons are summed up by Historic England:

“… the proposed development would cause harm to the significance of the Bromley Town Centre Conservation Area as a result of its overly dominant scale and massing.”  

As the planning authority the Council has a statutory duty under the 1990 Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act to ‘preserve or enhance’ the significance of the Conservation Area and prevent harm. Wearing its non-statutory land/owner developer hat, however, the Council is seeking to override that duty.

We are also in the process of formulating a Petition to be sent to the Development Control Committee, the decision makers for the planning application, which we hope will demonstrate the level of public concern and opposition. 
 
We are anticipating the Council’s development partner, Countryside Properties, may lodge their planning application this month (November 2021) and once this has been submitted, we will be writing to you again to update you as to how you can put forward your comments or objections. 
 
What can you do?

In advance of the opportunity to make formal objections to the planning application, you can voice your opposition by lodging your comments with Countryside Properties at:

https://churchillquarterbromley.co.uk/contact-us/
 
or by email at:

info@churchillquarterbromley.co.uk

or by telephone: 020 3929 0523
 
You can also raise your objections with your Ward Councillors so they understand the strength of feeling coming from the community. 
 
Find their email addresses here: https://bit.ly/WardCllrs
 
and to Bromley Council’s Leader, Cllr. Colin Smith: Colin.Smith@bromley.gov.uk

Cllr. Colin Smith
c/o Members Room
Bromley Civic Centre
Stockwell Close
Bromley
BR1 3UH
 
to the Assistant Director (Planning):    Tim.Horsman@bromley.gov.uk
 
If you do not live in Bromley, write to the Council Leader, Colin Smith, as above.
 
We would also appreciate it if you would kindly copy us with any comments you make to:  cqcampaign@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

DO PLEASE JOIN US IN OBJECTING TO THIS DEVELOPMENT AND FIGHTING TO PRESERVE OUR UNIQUE HISTORIC TOWN

If you have not already done so, you may wish to consider joining Bromley Civic Society.  Details of how to join can be found under ‘Membership’ on our website at www.bromleycivicsociety.org.uk      

PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO ANYONE WHO MAY BE INTERESTED OR CONCERNED
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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