Ashby Road Plans go to appeal

A controversial plan by developers Ashby Healthcare LLP, to partially replace Council offices at 1-3 Ashby Road with a 16 bed care home has reached its appeal stage.

The application was the second to be rejected; an earlier application for a slightly larger facility of 18 beds was also turned down. Following 13 complaints from local residents, the latest application was rejected by the Council on the following grounds:

1) The proposed building, by reason of its excessive height and bulk and design, would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Brockley Conservation Area contrary to Policies URB 3 Urban Design and URB 16 New Development, Changes of Use and Alterations to Buildings in Conservation Areas of the Council's adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004) and also the Brockley Conservation Area Supplementary Planning Guidance (Adopted February 2006).

2) The proposed building, by reason of its height, bulk and proximity to the rear gardens of properties in Manor Avenue, would have an over-dominating effect on these gardens to the detriment of the residential amenities of occupiers of the properties in question contrary to Policies URB 3 Urban Design and HSG 4 Residential Amenity of the Council's adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004).

The appeal deadline for statements and representations from interested parties (including local residents) is March 21st.

Details of the case and the link to register your views on the application can be found here

28 comments:

Headhunter said...

I've registered my view. Not to be too NIMBYist but this is of much more concern to me than the Homeview/bookies thing....

Also anyone seen that Lewisham planning seem to have approved some very controversial plans in the conservation area recently? It's all over the front of the Brockley Soc mag that should be going round in the near future.

They have set a dangerous precedent. Haven't got the mag with me but 1 application on Wickham Rd has been approved on appeal after several refusals which sends the message that if developers push hard enough they get what they want in the end. Another is an application to pave over one of the large gardens - forgotten the street - to make a driveway which has controversially been approved and another is to build a whacking great 3 storey apartment extension at the end of a row of Victorian houses near Hilly Fields which the Broc Soc says will completely obliterate a view of the park for certain neighbours and is in no way in keeping with the style of the other buildings on that row.

I haven't visited the sites of each of these, but sounds like the Broc Soc and local neighbours who complained in all 3 cases have been ignores and the Broc Soc thinks that Lewisham planners have gone for the easy option of accepting the applications rather than refusing which means they have to provide detailed reasoning.

JPM - you always have a view on these planning applications.... Whats' going on in the Town Hall?!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

that sounds pretty terrible - the 'not in keeeping' complaint, rather than the care home.

I think the care home is a good idea, its important to 'spread out' these facilities around the areas in order to encourage integration.

Near my street, I had a half way house which has now been vacated. But the council want to provide for a womans refuge in a near block of houses which I actually support.

Just becuase you live in a convservation area, doesnt mean you shouldn't shoudlder an equal proportion of social welfare facilities.

JPM said...

Sorry, didn't mean to post 'anonymous' (above).

Headhunter said...

APPP - I haven't necessarily got a problem with a home for care of people involved in traffic accidents, if that is indeed what the developer if proposing, but it sounds like the waters have been muddied to some extent from what JPM says. The main problem I have is that the conservation area is supposed to be just that, a conservation area and the nature of the area is supposed to be preserved. The building proposed on the site is very large and will overshadow the gardens and houses in the locale. How is this in keeping with the feel of the area?

Headhunter said...

Thanks for that info by the way JPM... Informative....

Anonymous said...

Andy just stop being a troll, for once.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Oh ok. I agree with you then headhunter. Developers should ensure the keeping of the area is maintained, for instance refitting the inside of victorian houses as opposed to knocking them down. Yes, that is pretty nasty and agree with you 100% on that arguement - esp. in the conservation area.

Abit surprised actually, they are simply remodelling the houses locally to accomodate the womans refuge, not knocking them down.

Anonymous said...

also APPP its worth noting that the conservation area already has quite a few institutional homes: a disproportionate amount, it would seem. Someone suggested that its because the houses tend to be so large. Its also worth distinguising among these facilities. I too would have no problem housing vulnerable people who pose little direct threat or problems to the community. But there is an issue if they want to put in yet more bail hostels, homelessness shelters that apparently tolerate substance abuse (as rokeby house), and so on. The conservation area already has its share of those.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I dont think me or you are in a postion to verfy the correct density of social welfare units, unless of course you have a density map across the lewisham council district to hand?

I was certainly under the impression that the conservation area was less dense (even if you dont believe it) as the local population there is much more organised to fight such non-liked institutions (having set up broc soc etc.. and becoming a conservation area originally says alot!). The council does tend to listen occasionally, but to those who shout the loudest. Other regions around Brockley do not have an organised body to fight their corner.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

but then again, other areas could be poorer, and lewisham council does hate rich people so maybe you guys are getting the brunt of it.

It would be nice to see some sort of density map if anyone has one (the sort with the large circles indicating larger density, but on a geographical map).

Present that to the council, then I think you will win your argument.

JPM said...

The developer did muddy the waters in the initial stages. He's now got a lobbying firm (Indigo Planning, nice people) involved, and distanced himself from the application. Nevertheless the company making the current application lists him as a director, and the doctor assigned to any future care home, Dr Richard Seamark, currently runs another establishment in Catford.
(He seems like a nice chap. This building too is owned by Dr George.)

Reading APP&P's post on fair share of shouldering responsiblity for care home provision is amusing, and needs correcting. The Conservation Area is the most sought after section for such provision due to the size of houses, and there are many care homes in it.

Some are quite well run and responsible establishments, ideally located for the service user and the community. (We have one in Manor Avenue.)

It is worth mentioning that each of these units undertook not to increase traffic and parking. Staff from these homes regularly take much-needed parking spaces.

Added to which there are a number of Housing Association provisions well in advance of those outside the Conservation Area, and these deal with persons suffering alcohol and drug addiction, some are bail hostels and one or two anonymous addresses are for battered and vulnerable women.

However, this is not about one piece of Brockley estate next to another, but the whole pie - and every application of this kind should be studied thoroughly, wherever it is, and for its true worth. If, after considering all this you feel that it may represent value for Brockley and the service user, then go for it. It's certainly not a subject for point scoring.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

JPM, if the conservation area is such a ideal place for these types of institutions then I ask for you to prove it with comparision with other areas outside the area.

Please do not just select arguements to back up the NIMBY brigade - that is certainly abit hypicritical and blatent point scoring. I know you are a journalist type of person, but this time please do not serve your own interest but the wider community.

I would imagine the womans refuge is not being made purpose use for the benefit of being annoymous. Didnt make that link before, thanks for pointing that out.

JPM said...

APP&P

I've brought some of the history of the current Appeal of 1-3 Ashby Road to your attention. It's up to you how you take it...

Clearly you should not accept any potential bias from me. As a resident of Brockley (yes living in the Conservation Area - WOW, HANG HIM! - and near to the proposed development - SHOCK) I have every right to act in my own self interest (and that of the community and service users too if I so desire), and not just as 'a journalist type of person'.

However, perhaps when you have conducted your own research I could have sight of it in order to address the 'bit hypocritical' and the 'point scoring' mentioned, as that appears like the pot calling the kettle.

Whilst we're at it though, what on earth is wrong with being a NIMBY? (When that back yard, the lawn, and the driveway are full.)

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Lol. You may have a point there JPM (in reference to that NIMBY bit) maybe it is acceptable. I appreciate your honesty in admitting to be biased.

Doubtful as it may seem, I do try to think about the wider issues affecting the area as it is that that interests me. My own wel-being isn't really much of an issue (i'm doing well thankyou).

I'd be happy to do some research but the bit that actually annoys me is the time taken to actually conduct the leg work. Would the council actually volunteer a list of addresses of social units? How do we classify what a social unit is? What should we include and exclude in the research? These are important questions that need answering and unfortunately the 'journalist type' of person will always find a critism.

Happy to get together some time to do this though, fancy doing the leg work JPM? :o).

JPM said...

APP&P... I'd be happy to research that with you. The trouble is I'm following something else up at the moment, and need to put that to bed.

Last week I discovered, by accident, that my closest cousin had died - three months ago - and been cremated. The hospital never contacted my family, and I am trying to discover why.

To make matters worst they want a contribution to the cremation, and won't release his ashes. (Strange that.) And, you'll like this one, hospital authorities think that I am the one who is being 'difficult'

I'd certainly like to know if there's anyone out there who has had experience of this, and whether they (as doctors, hospital employees, cremation staff etc) have any personal knowledge of th 'ash cash' system. This is paid to doctors when they sign to have a body cremated. (I recall a boozy conversation I had with a surgeon many years back. She was feeling guilty because it was the Christmas bash and she had been told to convince three separate people they should have their loved ones cremated in order to get the 'ash cash' - towards the staff night out.) Could the authorites have done more to find my cousin's family and thereby avoide cremation? (He was a Roman Catholic. Cremation is now permitted, but frowned on by many.)

Not a local post (and rather personal I know), but one that may involve someone else in the future. Certainly I feel my cousin deserved more, to have his family alongside him when he died or was buried at least.

JPM said...

Headhunter... indeed I know the history to this one. (This is a long post, but I'll try to keep it as short as possible.)

A developer under the name of Dr Simon George approached two neighbours in Manor Avenue a while back stating that he wished to buy up gardens as he wanted to open a care home 'for patients with brain injuries due to traffic accidents'.

I contacted Dr George directly.

Following up on the information he gave, this is partly what I discovered (as he hung up when I probed deeper)...

It is repeatedly claimed that this is a 'council office'. Not true. A small point but it was only rented by the council and Dr George, a landlord, owns it. Allowing the building to be demolished, and a care home built will not result in any direct benefit to the Council, which is the intention when its presented so.

He provided exmples of where he had opened homes in the past.

On further investigation it was established that Dr George did not run these 'care homes', and that he was simply a landlord who got planning rights under change of use.

Many of the buildings owned by Dr George cater for patients who would 'otherwise be detained under the Mental Health Act' and many have 'challenging behaviour'. (This latter actually listed in his earlier applications, the former was buried.)

However, the blurb for each of these care homes assures families that patients can be free to access the community and are not locked in. It is the community that is locked out. Again, proximity to a school was an issue when challenign behaviour alone was considered. (None of which is a matter for Planning or the Inspector.)

Additionally, many residents felt that, due to the provision of several care homes and bail hostels in the immediate area, Brockley was top heavy.

The site chosen is not suitable either.

A service user with brain trauma following a traffic accident would need tranquility. And yet Dr George chose to by an office block at the entranceway to a light industrial site with heavy delivery vehicles, and a pub.

Parking will also be an issue, as will loss of office amenity (In the Local Development Plan). Several neighbours will be overshadowed by the proposed building.

Although Lewisham Planning refused this one, you are quite right to have concerns in relation to others allowed. Apparently a third of appeals are allowed by the Planning Inspectorate, and it is this that is costly for the Council. (However, that said, the council also has a track record of winning two thirds, and that can be costly for a developer chancing his arm.)

We have until the 21st March to make our opinions known

Tom said...

Details of the plans are here.

The building looks pretty rubbish from what I can tell from the plans. Pleasingly, this appears to be one of the criteria that one can use to object to the plans.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JPM said...

Planned Mental Health Unit at 1-3 Ashby Road...

Thanks to all those who submitted letters against this planning appeal. (Any slackers then your responses should be in today via email.)

I am concerned about other aspects of this, and would appreciate some input.

I discovered yesterday that the landlord of this office building has managed to get the council to rate it as 'residential'. Even though a change of use is yet to be decided, adn hangs on a decision by an independant body.

The landlord had claimed that security guards were only in attendance, but we all know better. (The are tenants.) It seems nost odd that the council should allow teh rates to be moved rfom business to residential (council) tax), and I would certainly like to hear from a councillor, or anyone with knowledge of the rating system. What's to stop Homeview, or any business applying for the same?
(The rates on 1-3 Ashby were usually about £37k per annum, a huge saving then.

No wonder this developer is going to Appeal with what looks like a council subsidy funded by the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

I wrote against after reading this on the company website...

"Most individuals....will have experienced difficulties in a traditional rehabilitation programme or placement, due to their severe cognitive, emotional or behavioural problems that may manifest in violent, assaultive or self-injurious behaviours."

"We care for patients who retain capacity and therefore consent to inpatient treatment, as well as those detained under the Mental Health Act (1983)."

JPM said...

I did a study into the potential daily car movements of this proposed business.

It doesn't bode well...

Service Users, (inpatient)32
Service Users, (oupatient)26
Staff 90
Visitors 8
Deliveries 4

TOTAL POTENTIAL DAILY CAR MOVEMENTS 160

The delivery and visitor numbers are conservative estimates. Delivery vehicles will have a medical emergency and waste removal needs, as well as food deliveries, and visitors to the unit will have the 24/7 right to come and go as they choose (as will patients and outpatients), and each service user's visit is likely to be in excess of "1" per day.

Car use cannot possibly be prevented, as the developer claims. Neither can public transport alone assist. Where are the extra parking spaces to be found?

JPM said...

At our Ward Member.

BC readers will remember that a developer attempted, under various guises, to open a mental health unit at 1-3 Ashby Road, near a children's primary school.

It met with some opposition and was turned down, both by the Council and the Planning Inspectorate.

However, the building itself is currently used as a halfway house for oversees visitors - and not one penny of council tax is collected. (Curiously, the bins are regularly emptied by the council.)

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding why Lewisham Council is 'looking the other way' on the current use of the building, and the lack of tax. (The developer claims the tenants are 'security'. The council claims that it is the responsibilty of the Valuations Office. Previously it was taxed as a business at 38,000 pounds per annum. A considerably loss then to the public purse. Over three years 114,000 pounds and rising.)

The VO claims that the building's owner stated that it had been changed to a 'house'. But the council refused this as stated above.

What a charmed existence some people have.

Headhunter said...

No wonder the council has no money to sort out projects like Brockley Road and our council tax bills are so high...

Tressillian James said...

Well said - I think the charmed life comes from employees not having responsibility to achieve outcomes in their roles (ie. those in charge of council tax collection not really caring how lmong it takes to resolve this issue - and recent dealings with Pinnacle (all council employees until the recent outsource) confirm this to me.

I await all the shouts of protest - but have documented evidence of the council's housing and legal department leaving cases of illegal occupancy of social housing for 3 years or so. And this is an open case where the council decision is to remove the illegal occupants. 3 years. No movement.

jpm said...

Tressillian James, what you say leaves me convinced that this is the case with 1-3 Ashby Road. Is there really an agenda to open a care home there whatever?

jpm said...

Councillors Walton and Johnson have moved to investigate the reason why the owner of 1-3 Ashby Road has not paid business or council tax - for three years.

However, the link below suggesst that Brockley Conservation Area, and other seemingly affluent districts, may have been earmarked for greater council tax contributions due to the presence of a care home. Which, regardless of size are subject only to domestic, and not business, tax.

In other words where change of use is made by a council, tax revenue is reduced for the landlord of a care home building, leaving the surrounding community to pick up the shortfall (for what is essentialy a business).

[See. www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/ctax/ctlchcp.pdf]

Anonymous said...

So more care homes means more taxes - to residents? Neat move by the government - Iax in the community. Outrageous!

jpm said...

I think this site's got Alzheimer's when it comes to sticking with important issues. So count every 'F' in the following text of the 'Alzheimer's Eye Test.

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SULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTI
FIC STUDY COMBINED WITH
THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS...

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