We need a Masterplan, not a free-for-all of speculative Tower Blocks

Make your views known about…
Bromley South and the need for a Masterplan
SPD bulletin number 3
The Council is currently consulting on the Bromley Town Centre Supplementary Document (SPD) which provides detailed guidance for new development in Bromley Town Centre.
Section 9 of the SPD refers to Bromley South where some tall buildings are most likely to occur. The area includes Site 10 (the whole of the west side of the High Street from the Churchill Theatre down to and including Bromley South Station) Site 30 (the former DHSS building) and the area south of the railway including the Waitrose store and associated parking.
Para 9.14 refers to the Local Plan requirement that proposals in Site 10 must ‘…be accompanied by a Masterplan…’ It goes on: ‘This SPD provides broad guidance…fulfils part of this masterplan role…sets out key design principles which development should accord with…’
In our view the SPD does not go nearly far enough in setting out ‘key design principles’ that could fulfil the role of a masterplan. Left like this, we will have plethora of conflicting ‘masterplans’ produced by developers seeking to promote their own sites. The result is development occurring at random such as that at 70 High Street (see illustration)
70 High St (formerly Maplins). Sadly, allowed on appeal. The shop building itself, however, was recognised as making a ‘positive contribution’ and its façade will be retained.
There is an urgent need therefore, for a single Masterplan or, at the very least, key design principles incorporated in the SPD. Such a Masterplan can only be formulated from environmental studies and visual assessment that determines appropriate heights and bulk of buildings in relation to the adjacent Conservation Area, the High Street, important views and the character of the town centre as a whole.
Such an approach would be consistent with focussing on ‘…quality of place over quantum of development’ quoted in Guidance Note 10 of the SPD, also the London Plan and National Policy.
A single Masterplan emerging from studies would be likely to focus development at the southern, lower, part of the town and moderate height of buildings at the northern higher end of Site 10 to minimise impact on the Conservation Area. These broad principles should be incorporated into the SPD pending the studies referred to above.
The Masterplan should identify properties to be retained. As a first step, the SPD should indicate those properties that should be retained and considered for local listing as they make a positive contribution to the character of the High Street; these are illustrated below.
70 High Street (formerly Maplins)
62 High St (Laura Ashley); Neo Georgian parade 60-54 High St; 44 High St (Wilco & Dreams); & 42-40 High St.
9 – 33 High Street East (not in Site 10)
Paras 9.18 to 9.22 of the SPD clearly envisage significant development on the Waitrose store and car park . The site could ‘..accommodate taller buildings as townscape and wayfinding markers’ (9.21). It’s important that development is contained and not allowed to impact or encroach upon adjoining residential areas.
Bromley South, currently dominated by Perigon Heights and St Marks Sq.More taller buildings to come….?
Bromley Civic Society will be likely to respond along the lines of the following:
With reference to para 9.14: Studies and visual assessment should be undertaken to determine what might be appropriate in relation to the adjacent Conservation Area, the High Street, important views and the character of the town centre as a whole. A single Masterplan should be formulated from those studies to guide development for Site 10. The Council should not rely on developer led competing masterplans that lead to chaos.
As an initial first step the SPD should establish the broad principle of siting taller buildings at the lower, southern, end of Site 10, and moderating heights at the higher, northern end so as to minimise impacts on the Conservation Area and on the character of the town centre as a whole.
The SPD should identify those properties in Site 10 that make a positive contribution to the scale and character of the High Street and, as such, should seek to retain and consider for local listing the following properties:42-40 High Street44 High Street (currently Wilco and Dreams)60-54 High Street (Neo Georgian parade of shops including Studio Gusto)62 High Street (formerly Laura Ashley)70 High Street (formerly Maplins)
The SPD should also Identify and seek to retain other properties (not in Site 10) making a positive contribution such as the terrace of shops on the east side of the High Street: 9-33 High Street
With reference to para 9.22: Visual impact assessments should be carried out to prevent over bearing impact on adjoining residential areas. Encroachment beyond the accepted boundaries of the town centre should be very firmly resisted. Existing and proposed tall buildings should not be allowed to set precedents for similar buildings in the locality.
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