BrocSoc meeting tonight re. 47 Breakspears Road

The rather sorry site at 47 Breakspears Rd

Tonight, BrocSoc will be holding a planning meeting to discuss a controversial application to redevelop 47 Breakspears Road.

The BrocSoc site explains:

"Those of you who have been following this ongoing battle will be delighted to hear that we have another chance to put a stop to an extremely unsympathetic development."

There can surely be no one who will mourn the demolished house, which was a sorry-looking tumbledown. The issue is over the quality of the new design, which substitutes traditional bay windows for blocky efforts.

The juxtaposition of modern and period architecture can look stunning and it's what London is all about. But the new designs appear neither fish nor flesh; neither respectful enough to pastiche the neighbouring buildings nor bold enough to excite.

The result is a disappointing botch job and though we'd rather see something than nothing on that site, we can't see why the BrocSoc campaigners couldn't get their way whilst still enabling a developer to turn a profit that would make a rebuild viable.

If you want to go along, the meeting is at 7.00pm, St Andrew's Church, on the corner of Brockley Road and Wickham Road.

Update by Brockley Jon:

To save you wading through the planning docs, here's what is proposed for he development:

47 Breakspears Rd plans

Here's a side by side comparison:

47 Breakspears Rd plans

117 comments:

Hugh said...

Will any lonely bloggers be attending? The Brockley Foxes will be pleased.

Blogs in principle, quite good. Bloggers we have met, disappointing.

Brockley Nick said...

Perhaps you could represent BC tonight Hugh?

Headhunter said...

Can't really work out from the planning link that LB posted what the building will actually look like. The plans are not very clear to the layman. However I don't understand why the building on UBR (the one that burned down) had to be replaced with a pastiche Victorian building, yet in this space Lewisham Planning is apparently happy to have something which doesn't fit well with the buildings around. Sounds very inconsistent.

fabhat said...

It's the windows that make it look so incongrous I think - if you want to see what it will look like HH, click on the last pdf in the list - that will show you the design as it will look, not just floor plans.

nobbly brick said...

Hmmm, doesn't look *to* bad to me, but as it's pretty close in style to the general road, why not ditch the 'blocky' windows and have standard bays?


Perhaps it's also that there isn't any clarity in the planning decisions from one application to the next.

I've heard tales of people *having* the use architects from the Planning Offices approved list, perhaps there's some kind of friction going on there.

Brockley Nick said...

I guess the difference in this case is that the building being replaced is of no architectural merit, so the Council are more relaxed about what's allowed to replace it.

nobbly brick said...

Could be, yes, but will they allow a satellite dish on the front though?

Headhunter said...

Oh now I see... Yes those windows are clumsy. If finished it'll look as though the architects made a half assed gesture to make the building match the rest of the street but when it came down to it, couldn't quite be bothered to go the whole way.

I understand the point regarding the previous building being of little architectural interest, but if we have to have a departure from the rest of the street, lets make it a complete departure. I'm not suggesting some kind of big glassy tower block but something on a similar scale but with a completely modern look could be OK, but this just clashes completely with the existing architecture.

jpm said...

I will write an objection to this. It's quite remarkable that an architect could even consider presenting such a piece of work, and attach their name to it.

lb said...

Well, exactly. Those who have commented about the area's architectural integrity would do well to look at what's there now (a building that's likely to remain there if the developer can't make a viable project).

The building's undistinguished, but as I said, there are a few key things to remember:

1. Constructing dormers like those on the lower two stories of neighbouring buildings would raise the cost considerably. The existing design may be blocky by comparison, but it preserves the height and proportions of corresponding features in neighbouring buildings, which is what the eye initially notices when looking at buildings as a group.

2. As for the upper windows, the proportions of those on neighbouring buildings don't admit nearly enough light, by modern standards; I'm not surprised these are larger, on the new building.

3. Give it ten years and someone walking past will barely notice the difference at first glance, not something you can say about the existing building. As I said, it's all about proportions, rather than details.

lb said...

HH, I doubt the BrocSoc would allow any kind of radical departure from the rest of the street. They seem to consistently argue in favour of keeping the architectural status quo, which is fine if you've hired the services (and budget) of Quinlan Terry but not really conducive to any development if you haven't.

fabhat said...

LB - I think it sticks out a mile - the windows are one of the most important elements of the buildings round here. If it was totally modern then it would be a better choice than this lazy pastiche.

Tressillian James said...

Nick - I'm moving this comment over from Suggest a Topic - we started talking aobut this there before this thread started.

LB - there are several examples in the area where a pastiche has worked very well - Manor Avenue and Avon Way being two examples I can bring to mind. I am sure they were both viable or they wouldn't have gone up.

The point Broc Soc are making is that this is an unbroken row of Victorian houses where a pastiche would work well. Breakspears is a really nice road - it needs to be protected - so I'm not too worried about the cost/profit ratio for redevelopers

What's there now was built before conservation regs - I don't go along with the argument that as long as it's crappy architecture you're replacing, you should be able to replace it with something slightly less crappy.

lb said...

I agree a totally modern building would be better, but the BrocSoc would probably have a collective aneurysm.

There are a number of reasons why the windows couldn't be exactly the same - technology and building regulations have changed substantially in the past century. I don't think it "sticks out a mile" at all, largely because (as I said) it maintains proportions.

lb said...

"Breakspears is a really nice road - it needs to be protected - so I'm not too worried about the cost/profit ratio for redevelopers"

You have to think about this in terms of enabling the development, or it won't happen: you'll be left with the current "crappy" building. Or a big hole in the ground.

Brockley Jon said...

As you'll see, I've updated the piece with a few pics, including a photo of the site I took at the weekend (the old front door looking rather forlorn lost in a pile of rubble).

As you say Nick, neither brave enough to make a statement, or sympathetic enough to fit in. All this would serve to do is lower the quality of future applications in the Conservation area.

Tressillian James said...

I'll be there tonight - if only to show support in numbers

fabhat said...

I really like that picture, Brockley Jon!

Headhunter said...

LB - I completely disagree, it'll always look out of place and incongruous. Sort of like wearing a Harris Tweed suit with a pair of purple brogues.

Certainly it's better than the existing building, but the whole point of the conservation area is to preserve a certain character, not to drop standards to any tom, dick or harry developer just because they say the cost to profit ratio is not high enough.

If that's how Lewisham Planning is going to behave, we may as well scrap the idea of a conservation area altogether and stop wasting the extra council ta it must cost to administrate.

Brockley Nick said...

@HH - although I don't like the design, I don't think you can argue that - should it be passed - it defeats the purpose of the conservation area.

A conservation area is designed to conserve what is good that is already there - not to prevent new things being built.

At the moment, there is nothing there to conserve, as Jon's photo illustrates nicely.

I hope some refinements can be made or that the designers go back to the drawing board and create something much more interesting and modernist.

But if it goes ahead, it would still be an improvement on the hole in the ground and it would not spell doom for the conservation area.

Tressilliana said...

I'm no expert on this but there are a few new(ish) buildings in the Conservation area which have been built since CA status was granted. There's one on Tressillian Road, north of the junction with Harefield Road - it has a house number ending in 1/2 (ie half). Not a pastiche but it seems to blend in all right. Then there's the one at the other end of Tressillian Road, just above the junction with St Margaret's Road, which is also not a pastiche. If I remember correctly, the Brockley Society weren't happy about that design but it got through anyway.

The difference in both cases from 47 Breakspears is that these were infill projects, not replacement buildings. Maybe that makes a difference?

From the pictures here, I would agree that the windows are a problem with the design under consideration. Even worse than the duff replacement glazing you see here and there buggering up the symmetry of the original sash windows.

patrick1971 said...

What on earth happened to the house that was on the site before? Did it spontaneously collapse?

Headhunter said...

Nick - Yes but surely the conservation area is the sum of its parts and the feel of the area as a whole should be preserved, not on a site by site basis.

If we are accepting this developer's plans purely because there was nothing worth preserving on that specific spot previously, then are we basically saying that every site in the conservsation area without an existing Victorian building on it is essentially open to more or less any kind of development?

In which case we may as well say that the conservation area basically has holes in it where there has been prior infill, for example the post war council blocks. If one of these council blocks, built before the CA was set up, were to be replaced, does that mean the developer would have the green light to build something on the same scale in its place? I should hope not.

Brockley Jon said...

I think the big thing here (and and this will go some way to answering your Q, Patrick) is that there was once a wonderful Viccy terrace stood on that site, that fell victim to the war (I can only assume?). In the years after this it was probably a derelict site for yonks and then in the days before the Conservation area became a pretty boring 2 up 2 down box.

Now that that building has gone, we have a chance to put things right again. The prominant position of the site and the well-preserved neighbouring buildings can only emphasise this.

I really like some of the other more modern infill buildings - they really work - but this site should be restored not bastardised.

lb said...

HH, the way a 'conservation area' operates is, an Nick said, largely to preserve the character of existing buildings, and to safeguard green space. New infill development within that, especially if it's replacing existing buildings, is a more complicated issue.

The kind of things planners have to consider are amenity, benefit, interference with natural light, access, etc. They'll also look at proportions and rooflines. Enforcing architectural detail really is getting into another field entirely.

Developers will only build where there's a chance of a working profit; there's not much we can do about that. The architect will then have to work within this budget as best as possible. This is only a single house in a quiet area, not some major flagship development. I'm not sure if people commenting on here are aware of how these kind of factors can eat into a project's viability, but they do.

lb said...

[Brockley jon]

Sure, we had a chance to have something more proportionally correct there, but with the developer's costs potentially increasing and the overall economic climate worsening, is this really the time to start getting strident about design details?

What's better, on balance - a pile of bricks or a relatively unobtrusive building?

Brockley Jon said...

Lb, yep, can completely see this side too! But a pile of bricks for a few years, then a stunning building for hundreds afterwards, or a stinker that goes up now and lasts only 30 years (like the last one)?

Besides, I can't see how putting proper bays on that propsed building can really change the costs too much at all?

Headhunter said...

LB - Of course I'm aware that developers work to profit! I'm very aware of profit and revenue as a headhunter in the City, it's all we live for. I get it drummed into me daily. But if one developer, namely the developer which built the remarkably accurate Victorian pastiche on UBR, can make a profit, what's this one's excuse??

As for the current economic climate, I would prefer that this were refused and to wait til better times and get a better building than have some troubled developer squeeze some badly designed, cheap building onto the site which we all then have to live with for the next 50, 60 years or whatever, just because we had a bad economic spot for a couple of years in 2008...

lb said...

I think that creating a bay similar to that on the existing buildings would be rather more structurally complex. It has a small pitched roof on it, for a start; you're also going to have to form mullions to match the existing ones. If they're stone, this is going to send costs into the stratosphere, relatively speaking.

Even the general outline of the bay will create problems; angled corner bricks are hideously expensive, and require a lot of skill to lay.

lb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lb said...

[HH] The UBR building had a bay on the ground floor only - it was a very plain design otherwise, not a difficult building to duplicate using modern methods. Even the bay was a very basic one, with brick mullions.

Probably also worth mentioning that if the original building was insured, some of the costs of construction would have been covered.

Headhunter said...

LB - I'm not a construction expert, but you're basically saying that the difference in price of re-modelling the bays slightly to look like the existing Victorian ones would send the costs into the stratosphere? I find that hard to believe, they're already putting bays on the building, they just need tailoring slightly.

Of course it may cost more, but I hardly think it's going to be the difference between the building being viable and completely unviable. As for the angled bricks/brick mullions, why can't this be done in concrete and rendered or something?

I am not arguing for an exact match to the Victorian buildings but something that fits a little better than this design which looks incredible clumsy would be good.

Alex said...

The one thing that the images do not illustrate is what type of brick this house is going to built from and the fact that whilst the drawing makes it seem like it fits in quite well (except the bay windows), with the surrounding houses the likelihood is that it will stand out like a sore thumb until the building starts to weather which could 5,10,15 years at least away.

Is there any information on what type of windows these will be? Timber Frame, PVC? I understand the developer/architects decision to put non-Victorian looking windows in (cost) but it really needs Lewisham BC to make a stand on this one and request that the new proposed building either fits in almost as a replica of adjoining properties or is something quite different with quality and standards of adjoining properties maintained.

jpm said...

During the 2nd World War Manor Avnue was bombed a number of timed. Number 70 was hit so badly that its owner had to knock it down beyond the foundations (which are arches). He then rebuilt it in the same style. Has anyone noticed the difference?

fabhat said...

bricks will be london stock, white porcelain(!) and the windows will be black framed aluminium...

Headhunter said...

I'm guessing it doesn't really matter whether they use timber framed DG in a building which makes barely any attempt to blend in anyway! It would be like fussing as to whether to wear a tie with small polka dots on or not with the aforementioned tweed suit and purple brogues. Irrelevant as everyone'll be looking at your feet...

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Ok well I am a building expert and I have to say that if you built bay windows as the Victorians did you would never get Building Control approval today.

Have a walk around the conservation area and see how many bays have come away from the rest of the building and are either propped up or have been rebuilt or removed.

I suspect the square bays are there to meet modern structural requirements and are the nearest the Architect can get within the contstraints of modern constrution methods.

More pertinent are the materials used and how well the finishes blend in with those to the surrounding buildings in my humble opinion.

lb said...

"the difference in price of re-modelling the bays slightly to look like the existing Victorian ones would send the costs into the stratosphere"

Well, yes, that is what I'm saying. The existing design is a brick box with a flat roof - simple to engineer, simple (and quick) to build. The bays on the other properties have a far more complex profile - from the bricks themselves up, everything will cost much more and take more time to construct, increasing labout costs too. A pastiche would likely involve stone mullions being made to order - extremely expensive. The things that raise costs substantially are special materials and non-standard components, and trying to mimic the existing design would involve both.

Believe me, I'm sure the architects would have done this if the budget would have allowed. There's a reason you see relatively few accurate pastiche buildings around.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? With Dandelion Blue closing down this place is going to the dogs.

Headhunter said...

LB - Well I can't argue with that, I'm not an architect or a builder but it sounds strange. I think it has more to do with the builder forcing the budget down to maximise profits even further than the bays being completely and utterly economically unviable. This is something Lewisham PLanning should prevent. Builders should have to price in the conservation area just as they price in the cost of an electrician, rather than Lewisham Planning just caving in.

What do you mean flat roof anyway? It has a pitched roof, labelled "slate" in the pictures.

Brockley Nick said...

The thing about pastiche is you either do it properly and match it almost brick for brick or you get something which really jars because it doesn't quite look right.

The Breakspears houses are really intricate and - as the experts we have on this site have pointed out - to try and replicate it could both be prohibitively expensive and contrary to modern building regs.

The right way forward it seems to me is to do as LB suggested and push to meet with the developer, the council and the architect and discuss a sensible way forward. But to do that, you have to start from the position that modern architecture is not abhorrent and acknowledging economic realities is a necessary evil.

Anonymous said...

@Anon - we don't know what's happening with DB, chill out for now.

Anonymous said...

and taste is subjective.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes. And a willingness to compromise can be a strength, rather than weakness.

Anonymous said...

what do we know - we're just lonely bloggers!

Anonymous said...

How do you know that I don't know what's happening at DB?

patrick1971 said...

"well I am a building expert and I have to say that if you built bay windows as the Victorians did you would never get Building Control approval today. Have a walk around the conservation area and see how many bays have come away from the rest of the building and are either propped up or have been rebuilt or removed."

Michael this is really interesting (and a bit scary, speaking as someone who's just bought a Victorian house with two bay windows...). What building regs do they contravene? And why do they keep coming away from buildings?

Anonymous said...

If you do, please share.

Tressillian James said...

The p[astiche house on Avon Way has double height bay windows that match its neighbours, if only a little narrower. Does this mean they will fall off - or that the owner paid exhorbitantly (why would they?)? I think not.

I don't see why we have to compromise - that was done already at that site with terrible results.

Council plannign states:

"design must be high quality to reflect the quality of Brockley conservation area and may be contemporary or traditional. The design should complement the character of the wider conservation area and reinforce Brockley’s local distinctiveness"

I think the design fails on all sides - it does not reinforce Brockley's local distinctiveness at all.

Additionally "materials may be innovative or traditional, but
must be high quality. Upvc, for example will not be acceptable" - so not sure about the black metal windows meeting the criteria either.

But as I said before - I don't care whether the developer makes a profit or not - especially off the back of the area I (and probably not the developer) live in.

Headhunter said...

I must admit, my building was converted into flats in 1997 and at that time the bay window at the back of the house, overlooking the garden from what would have originally been the dining room, was removed as apparently it was structurally unsound and was coming away from the building. However none of the other houses along Manor Ave seem to have had theirs removed, so it doesn't seem to be an inevitability. In any case these bays are, what, 140ish years old. I would be surprised if the budget building planned for 47 Breakspears even lasts that long. Although I suppose that's besides the point...

Jt said...

Do you think the conservation area is really worth conserving. It is such a ragbag of properties anyway. Given the choice of a 10% reduction in your council tax by doing away the 'status' I'd take it.

Headhunter said...

I wouldn't. I'd prefer to pay 10% more and have it administered like a 3rd world dictatorship. Any transgression punished with public flogging and/or execution on Hilly Fields. Admission tickets sold to fund the Broc Soc.

lb said...

"The p[astiche house on Avon Way has double height bay windows that match its neighbours, if only a little narrower. Does this mean they will fall off - or that the owner paid exhorbitantly (why would they?)? I think not"

Dunno - when was it built? Under what regulations? How was it funded - was it a speculative development, or something else? Are the bays as complex as the Manor Avenue ones? What materials were used? Frankly you could be comparing apples to oranges - the fact that such a property may exist doesn't mean that it would be an easy matter to replicate the Breakspears Road ones. I'm talking about what could be built now, under current regs, in the current climate, and the practical likelihood of achieving a close match to the existing design.

"I don't see why we have to compromise"

Ah, and here's my point. Why should it be your compromise? This is a matter, I think, for the developer and the council, with appropriate public consultation, bearing in mind that the general public don't necessarily have the experience in development control, environmental planning issues or architecture to be able to dictate minor design issues. At what point do you feel you assumed ownership of the process? It'll have to be a compromise of some form, simply because if the Brockley Society had their way nothing would ever change.

"But as I said before - I don't care whether the developer makes a profit or not - especially off the back of the area I (and probably not the developer) live in"

Fine, if you want to walk past a pile of bricks every day for the next decade, go ahead. I'm just saying that with any building project there are a huge number of financial and other factors dictating the design. Believe me, most architects would love to use high-quality, attractive materials in every development - it's simply not possible. To my eye the proposal looks in proportion, sensible, and uses the right brick - as Nick said, it would be a simple matter to achieve something workable, I'm sure.

The source of my frustration is that I'm just not convinced that it's going to be possible to accommodate anyone arguing for a replica building, not on a small-scale project like this - go to a museum if you want to see conservation-grade building techniques in action.

nobbly brick said...

Everybody get on down to the meeting tonight and air your views - this is an opportunity to have your views heard on a wider public stage and, who knows, make a difference.

A well placed sentence tonight might be worth a novel written on a blog...

The Cat Man said...

ohh..

the brockley-ite middle classes have got their knickers in a twist - delightful.

The darkside of brockley is worthy of saving - we have some decent unspoilt roads (not mine admittedly).

You should check it out!

But beware of cats.

Tressillian James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tressillian James said...

LB - take a walk to Avon Way - it's been built in the last 10 years - you'll see what I mean. Yes it may be slightly different, but more of a case of Coxes and Golden Delicious, I'd say.

And yes - I don't own the process - but I do have a right to feel that I don't want a compromise - that's why planning has a clearly defined consultation process of neighbours and interested parties. Approx 160 people at the last count signed a petition because they also believe they have the right not to accept a compromise. I'll be at the meeting - you can have your voice heard there too.

And finally (and this is my final comment on this thread) - yes I'd MUCH rather walk past a green lot (the bricks would not stay) for 5 years tops, than pass the proposed building for the next 30 or 40

Tamsin said...

For what it's worth, on Telegraph Hill one of the houses in Pepys Road was re-built about 15 years ago and you literally cannot tell the difference. There are also currently two small-scale developments in Arbuthnot at the planning stage where the proposal is to tack a (total in one case and almost total in the other) mirror immage onto the end of a 1870s terrace. (And the one that doesn't match is due to space constraints rather than the structure/materials being uncopyable.) It can be done - and, as one half of a pair in this Breakspears Road case, I would have thought, should be done.

In a conservation area the council is required to approve only plans that either "conserve or enhance" the conservation area. You could have somthing totally modern and "iconic" (as a traditionalist I use this as a dirty word) or something that melds in much better than the current proposal. This, like the St. James proposals for the reservoir at the top of Jerningham Road two years ago, seems to fall squarely between those two stools.

Others, of course, use "pastiche" as a dirty word and the new(ish) terrace on Kitto Road has come in for a lot of flak on the Telegraph Hill discussion forums. On the other hand it does illustrate that angled bays are possible and can be done on a budget being social (housing association) housing.
The builders did, in the event, take some unfortunate short-cuts in the period detailing, departing from the proposals which were hammered out between the developers, the Telegraph Hill Society and the Council planning officers. But this also indicates that such discussion can be productive, although whatever the outcome the actual building process will also need to be scrutinised by those concerned about the perserving the feel of the conservation area.

Tamsin said...

PS Having had another look at the picture - the flat roof over the bay will be a water ingress nightmare!

nobbly brick said...

"the brockley-ite middle classes have got their knickers in a twist"

I'm looking forward to viewing those knickers tonight

Headhunter said...

So it seems it is possible to economically and effectively build a modern pastiche or even almost replica of a Victorian building with bays, without the whole thing becoming structurally unsound.... So why should Lewisham Planning have to accept less?

Headhunter said...

BTW, where is Avon Way? Never heard of it!

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Patrick

Inadequate foundations especially compared to the rest of the house (whose foundations weren't much better) and inadequate ties into the main structure - only one skin of brick not two - for example.

Of course they were perfectly leagal when originally built.

I may go along tonight depends on the weather. I must say however what is the point of this meeting?

Surely the council meeting where they consider the revised application is the important one

Tressillian James said...

Avon Rd (sorry not Way) is one of the 3 roads (Darling, Avon and Drake)that link Tressillian to Tyrwhitt.

I just went by on the way to walk the dog - and the property I'm refering to is on Drake Road. I've checked - it has a double height angled bay - has all period embellishments - and has been built in the last 10 years or so.

I'll take a photo tomorrow in daylight and hopefully Nick will post it. Hopefully it will show that LBs "There are a number of reasons why the windows couldn't be exactly the same - technology and building regulations have changed substantially in the past century." doesn't apply here. The square bays and square windows on the new design is about the developer's profit margin.

jpm said...

The Victorians built the bay windows as add ons; in other words separate to the main structure.

Unfortunately, in many cases these were also built over drains.

In various parts of London insurance companies claim that these bays have collapsed due to subsidence, it's no such thing. It the drains. Fortunately for the insurance company though, once the bays are underpinned, they can then make it difficult for a 'subsidence' property owner to move insurers - thereby ramping up the premium. (This happens a lot in North London where i is claimed it is teh clay. And, coincidentally, on Hilly Fields, which is due to the hill.)

The ability to angle bricks out from the main wall should not make the task impossible, for a competent bricklayer. (A developer has already done this in Breakspears Road, and cost did not seem to be a factor.)

Tressillian James said...

I went to the meeting tonight - there were a lot of angry residents - and after the architect spoke, I can see why.

What is not evident immediately from the plans - but Fabhat noticed - is that the half of the building is to be in white porcelain tiles (the 2 storey area on the right hand side). Added to that the whole of the front bay section is to be rendered white.

Also - the windows are in metal and non sash for ease of care - also all windows are also 2.5 times bigger than the other houses. There is also an extension at the back that is double the size of any other extension in the row. In other words it will stick out like a sore thumb. One of the residents had mocked it up and it was neither in keeping nor of merit.

The developer and his architechts, from what I could gather, are from up North. He had initially planned 4 flats which had received planning permission - but due to the economic climate wants to change this to a single dwelling house - and this is why the case is up for review again. So the guy has no interest in the area apart from making a quick buck.

The planning guys were at the meeting (a guy of about 26 had given it the initial approval) and admited that if they were to rescind planning permission now there may be costs against Lewisham - so this will be taken into account in their decision on whether to re-grant the planning permission.

And the petition? Inadmissable because it was submitted 10 minutes too late.

They are now going to review the decision - and will take into account any objections received - please all take time to log an objection if you feel strongly about this. Having seen the plans I can honestly say that this is not an architectually interesting building nor is it going to fit smoothly into the row of houses that are there.

Anonymous said...

For all the ignorant people out there(like myself)can someone please advise on how to log an objection?channel,format,wording etc

Thanks

fred vest said...

could some of these offices that some here seem keen to attract to lewisham/sel be built in the conversation area?

Headhunter said...

I don't think any council would approve an office block in the middle of a residential street, conservation area or not!

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

I could not attend last night due to South Eastern rail running late rather than the weather.

I have however looked at the proposals again and I think they do have merit.

The proportions match the surrounding buildings -unlike the former property which of course all the objecting residents put up with for about 50 years - and the subtle changes in the design and materials tell us what it is. A modern take on the victorian semi not a blind copy of something from another era.

Reproducing the house next door would be like producing a copy of a Van Gogh and then passing it off as the real thing. Fraudulent in my mind - is that what people want?

(Ducks down to avoid tirade of abuse.....)

Headhunter said...

I think it clashes awfully. If it were a completely modernist design, a complete departure from the original Victorian, but on a similar scale to the surrounding buildings, it would be better. However this designs appears to be a budget attempt at fitting in with the local architecture, a bare nod to the fact that the site is in a conservation area made to maximise profits.

Certainly the previous building was of no merit, however it was built before there was any concept of a conservation area, before Victorian architecture was valued. In fact if it was built in the 1950s or before, it was probably built at a time when Victorian buildings were positively scorned.

Tressillian James said...

TM - you think that half of the house in white porcelain tiles is ok?

As for those who wish to object - it can be done online. Just click the link "47 Breakspears Road" in Nick's original post - and scroll down to the bottom of the page it take you to - you'll find a link to the planning department. You'll have to give the application number, your objection, and your interest (local resident).

Anonymous said...

Michael - your comments, although sensible and reasonable, are likely to provoke an artisan bun fight from the crusties of Brockley.

Expect to see a crowd of Tristrams and Henriettas carrying said pastries in their "bags for life" outside your front door soon.

fred vest said...

headhunter, what property developers out there do you think exist not to maximise profits (or more correctly at present minimise losses)?

pope displaying strong tendencies towards catholicism etc...

Hugh said...

House prices are in a tailspin. That's the real news. Any homeowners here are losing thousands each month.

brockley mutha said...

I'm not enamoured, but nor do I particularly disaprove. It's a building that is trying to tick a variety of boxes and the result is disappointing.

In constructing new homes within the conservation area, we don't necessarily have to go down the path of pastiche. There is a tremendous modern house at the top of tyrwhitt that is radically different from its neighbours, but has the advantage of architectural merit. Unfortunately homes that are 'different' are difficult to sell and so we end up with compromises like that suggested for breakspears road - aesthetically lacking in all areas.

Headhunter said...

Fred - As I explained further up the thread, I am completely aware that construction companies exist to maximise profits. I am sure that if they could get away with it, they would construct buildings out of cardboard and sell them for 5 mill.

What I said earlier is that this site is within the conservation area and builders wishing to construct within its borders should be obliged to factor in the costs of this, just as they would an electrician or a plumber.

The whole reason they want to build there in the 1st place is that the area is spacious, leafy and pleasant, and they know the property should sell fairly quickly, even in the current climate, yet they appear not to respect this.

If Lewisham Planning is not going to enforce its guidelines, what's the point of wasting council tax on the conservation area in the 1st place?

With regard to the current economic climate - so you are prepared to let a construction company build a sub standard building now, that we will have to see for the next 50-60 years or so, purely because they were having a hard time for a couple of years in 2008? I would prefer the site to remain empty until better times if this is the case.

lb said...

Well, I agree with Tyrwhitt Michael, and he clearly knows what he's talking about, on a technical level.

[B. Mutha] Yeah, I like the house at the top of Tyrwhitt as well. It's not the best building of its type I've seen, but it breaks up the street with something clean and modern while still observing the basic proportion and massing of the surrounding buildings.

By the way, why should the fact that the building had been approved by someone "of about 26" make a difference? You need to do a degree in planning, y'know. It's not like they'll have got a half-trained underling to sign off the plans.

Anyway, Hugh's hit the nail on the head. Be prepared to have a big pile of bricks sitting there for the next decade, well done.

Tressilliana said...

'Any homeowners here are losing thousands each month.'

Only if they borrowed so heavily that they're in negative equity now. Those of us who bought a few years ago are not losing money, we are simply seeing prices fall back to a more realistic level. The fall in price of the current property will usually be offset by the saving on the next one in any case. This is what happened to us in the last crash.

lb said...

"a sub standard building"

HH, the whole point is that by objective architectural and planning standards, the building is not "sub standard", and should reasonably be approved. This means that any further arguing over details by residents is going to seem like them asking for the moon on a stick.

Brockley Jon said...

Sorry, but I'm with Headhunter on this one.

Tressillian James, thanks for taking the time to tell us about the meeting, and filling us in on some of the details. Very interesting. I couldn't make it, but will indeed be making an objection via an email to planning@lewisham.gov.uk.

Anyone else get along to the meeting?

Headhunter said...

LB - "HH, the whole point is that by objective architectural and planning standards, the building is not "sub standard", and should reasonably be approved. This means that any further arguing over details by residents is going to seem like them asking for the moon on a stick."

Well that's your view, but I'm afraid I don't see it the same way. We obviously have different standards for the conservation area...

fred vest said...

do you live in the conversation area headhunter?

Headhunter said...

Yup

lb said...

Well, I don't particularly like the Barratt Homes Edwardian Villa style (see new post above), but that's beside the point.

As far as the pictures of Avon Road go, yeah, yeah, but as I said, do we know how the building was funded and under what circumstances it was built? Of course it can be done technically - although again, as I'd point out - the Avon Road example is a simpler design - but could it be done in a way that would make it worthwhile for a developer to actually build?

Perhaps anyone actually living in the building would appreciate the extra floor space and much improved natural light given by a 'modernised' design?

Is it, as TM pointed out, more aesthetically honest that the building makes open reference to the period in which it was built?

In planning or design terms the issue is far more complex than the frothing language used by the Brockley Society (and some of the commenters) would seem to suggest. By objective standards, it's a reasonable development. Perhaps by individual standards of taste - if you're a traditionalist, or if you're Quinlan Terry - it's not. However this does not in itself make a development sub-standard, or a planning decision wrong, or thoughtless. It seemed like a reasonable decision to me, frankly.

I like the fact that one of the residents had gone so far as to make a 'mock-up' - wonder if it was in Lego? (This does happen, occasionally.) I'm imagining them constructing it a bit like the way Dreyfuss makes a model of that hill thing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Tressillian James said...

LB you are patronising. The resident concerned was an architect and had professionally shown what the building would look like in the row. What the pictures here don't show is the over all white colour of the building (that makes it stand out) and the white tiled section.

As for frothing at the mouth - hardly. I did turn up at the meeting to take a look and talk to architecht and developer.

BTW the cost of angled bay windows was not an issue - we were told that the developer's design for his buildings (wherever he develops them) is 'always modern'.


I agree I also quite like the house on Tyrwhitt - is does look interesting - however, I notice it is unoccupied? Perhaps because of planning issues.

fabhat said...

Lb - if this wasn't in the conservation area - this house wouldn't be in question. As it is, surely it is reasonable to question whether this building fits in and is an acceptable addition to the streetscape? It's not just about "oh well it's better than what was there before" but is it appropriate with the style of the existing houses?
And this building, many people seem to think, isn't...

Headhunter said...

LB - You say that by "objective standards" it is a reasonable development, however I don't accept that so this is not an objective view, merely your subjective view.

The conservation area was set up to preserve the integrity and character of these streets, this building flies in the face of this. That's the objective view. If this building were planned for a non-conservation area then it would be reasonable, however it is not.

lb said...

It's already been tested against (objective) development control standards; it was approved. This a good test of 'reasonableness', given the relative stringency of planning controls. I'm saying that if it passes these controls (which it has) then by objective standards it's not really 'sub-standard', is it? It's just not to your taste.

My subjective view? I think the existing design is dull, and I don't like pastiche either - or leaden post-1840 architecture for that matter. I'd rather see something sparklingly contemporary.

[TJ] I'm afraid the Brockley Society has been frothing pretty effusively in its newsletter.

There certainly appeared to be someone living in the Tyrwhitt house a while back. Must have a great interior - lots of space and light.

Tamsin said...

"Appreciating extra light and space" What is the internal layout like? Certainly in one of the developments in Arbuthnot it is terrible because the developers are trying to squeeze 3 or 4 units into a building that would only make two reasonable ones.

The Kitto Terrace has been described as "good mannered" - damming with faint praise, but it is a concept to bear in mind. In a conservation area I am of the view that a courteous copy (although not the original Van Gogh) is better than either an iconic modern building (jumping up and down saying "look at me!") or a slob of a cheapskate design, getting away with the bare minimum of compliance with its surroundings.

Headhunter said...

The building has been tested against a "good test of reasonableness". Apart from structural integrity (I'm sure it's a pretty solid building and isn't going tro fall down in a couplf of years unfortunately), reasonableness of design is always subjective I'm afraid.

You'd like something "sparklingly contemporary", I may not disagree with you on that. The Broc Soc wants something exactly matching the Victorian buildings in the street and a 26 year old Lewisham Planning officer deemed the building to fit with the conservation area. All subjective views.

Anonymous said...

This demonising of BrocSoc is unfair "frothing at the mouth"? Hardly, the Brockley Society is simply doing its job and fulfilling it's remit that is to preserve the architectural merit of the area.

Anonymous said...

they're trying to preserve something that's not worth preserving. you can't polish a turd.

Headhunter said...

Another subjective (and stupid) view...

Anonymous said...

ditto...

lb said...

Anon@11.46. That may be their remit, but the character of some of their statements (the early 2008 newsletter which rather dramatically stated that Lewisham had "failed" the people of Brockley) is straight out of the Green Crayon school of letter-writing I'm afraid.

lb said...

Actually, I've just noticed they refer to the 47 Breakspears saga as an "ongoing battle", which speaks volumes in frothiness terms. Why so confrontational?

fabhat said...

Lb - possibly because they think the building contravenes the planning ideals of the conservation area? Oh - which they were set up to protect...? Probably just the kind of thing they think they should get worked up about.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Just to correct one misconception the side extension is to be constructed from glazed bricks and is not "tiled."

These are a material from the Victorian and Edwardian periods and were extensively used in mansion blocks to help illuminate other wise dark internal lightwells. They are extremely durable, look rather good and are extremely expensive - about three times the price of yellow stock bricks.

So much for making a quick buck...

Anyway I'm prepared to put my money where my mouth is and register support for the proposals with the council.

Tressillian James said...

LB - I think one of the issues last night was whether the original planning approval had been objective and within guidelines. There is some thought, even among the planners, that maybe their own conservation area guidelines had not be followed. It was pointed out that there were several serious slips in the previous permissioning; but to 'withdraw the orginal permissioning may have led the council open to financial claims from the developer' (planning department statement)

Anyway - this design (not the previous permissioned one) is now up for decison in front of the planners.

What I don't get LB is why you are against those who want to keep the integrity of the area? You say you don't think the design is of merit - but also acknowledge that guidelines for developemnt in the conservation area state that new development should be so. Would you not object on those grounds?

It seems to me that your argument changes from 'angled bays cannot be built' to ' cost will be prohibitive' and when presented with an example of such a house to 'well it's within the planning departments guidelines'. Planning departments often get things wrong - that's why there is a well established consultation process which we are following with our objections.

Really your argument should be " I'm against all Pastiche buildings?", shouldn't it?

Oh and yes - I think that perhaps a box-fresh 26 year old planner may need supervision when looking at something like a conservation area.

Tressillian James said...

TM - the architect mentioned white procelain tiling on the outside of the extension. He did not say glazed bricks.

However white glazed bricks for a two storey extension would be out of keeping - there would still be an external white porcelain effect. As for being Victorian - where else in the Conservation area do you see that? Or in London - apart from Victorian hospitals and lavs?

lb said...

"What I don't get LB is why you are against those who want to keep the integrity of the area"

Mainly because they seem to be suggesting that it's entirely self-evident why the building is 'unacceptable'. I think that it's a perfectly reasonable and well-mannered development and (subjectively) retains the area's integrity in terms of proportions and rooflines. It's bland, true, but then again the kind of architecture I find exciting would probably give the Brockley Society a collective apoplexy.

I would still argue that to reproduce the design of the buildings on either side in an accurate 'pastiche' would involve methods of construction likely to substantially increase the project's budget and perhaps (in the current climate) render it less viable - this bit of my argument hasn't gone away.

Rather like TM, I'll be registering my support.

lb said...

"the architect mentioned white procelain tiling on the outside of the extension. He did not say glazed bricks"

The design statement and plan clearly says "white porcelain glazed bricks". There are already quite a few examples of this around. I'll check and give you some addresses if you're that disbelieving.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

For the record here is the e-mail I have just sent to the council


Application DC/08/69716/X
47 Breakspears Road

I am a Hilly Fields conservation area resident, living in Tyrwhitt Road, but I was unable to attend last night's public meeting.

I have viewed the proposals with an unbiased eye and believe them to be a successful modern interpretation of a Victorian semi detached house utilising both historic and contemporary quality materials.

I believe it is important that the new building clearly declares that it is not the original half of the semi detached pair and is a new addition to the street. It is in keeping with the proportions of the surrounding buildings whilst clearly not being the original building that stood on the site.

As a consequence of the above I would wish to give the proposals my support.

Anonymous said...

Well it's not really surprising you were supportive of Portland taking over the Homeview site, against the campaign for Speedicars to have a non plastic illuminated sign and now this. Fine that's your view, it does seem spiteful.

Many people are actively trying to improve Brockley whilst maintaining the things that attracted us to the area, the history and character. You rarely have anything constructive to say except in opposition to what others have concerns about. You say you live in the Hilly Fields Conservation area no wonder you are so blaise about what happens in Brockley.

The Cat Man said...

knickers still twisted I see..

...any chance of a photo?

patrick1971 said...

"Unfortunately homes that are 'different' are difficult to sell and so we end up with compromises like that suggested for breakspears road - aesthetically lacking in all areas."

IME pastiche buildings are also difficult to sell. Last year, when there was still a property boom, there was a house in the Hatcham Park conservation area that was modern, but a perfect copy of its Victorian terraced neighbours. Not only was it on the market for about £70K less than orginal Victorians, but it stayed on the market for weeks at a time when stuff was being snapped up overnight.

Tressillian James said...

LB - would really like to see a photo of white glazed bricks being used in the same way on a Victorian property in the Conservation area - please do take a photo and post, as it may do a lot to allay many objectors fears. I don't see ANY in Breakspears Road though?

Anonymous said...

"Well it's not really surprising you were supportive of Portland taking over the Homeview site, against the campaign for Speedicars to have a non plastic illuminated sign and now this. Fine that's your view, it does seem spiteful."

I took the same opinion on all of those things. People have different things they want out of the con area, me, you, even the council, and ALL of these views must be reconciled rather than simply repeatedly banging fists (and heads) and quoting the regulations, chapter-and-verse.

Sour organic grapes.

nobbly brick said...

sorry, plunged into depths of gastric fever

knickers (last night) twisted, in fact the Planning officers knickers were removed and hung from a flag pole

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

They are views I hold, spite does not enter into it.....

Headhunter said...

If these glazed bricks that are to be used are so expensive according to TM it rather negates the argument that an accurate pastiche is economically unviable (as per LB). And therefore if the construction company has the money to build the bays in these oh so expensive bricks, why can't they build something which fits better?

lb said...

The bays aren't in the glazed brick, the side extension is (correctly, given that this is a shaded area)

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

For those who are still interested in this, as promised I sent in my e-mail supporting the proposals.

Those who have visited the planning portal since will have observed that it has been recorded as an objection. This was made even clearer by the acknowledgement letter which invited me to join "with other objectors" to opppose the scheme.

So much for due process.

Headhunter said...

Wow, 40 "against", well actually must be 39 as TM's "in favour" has been registered as an against. Seems like people really don't want this thing to be built...

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

On my experience it could be 40 in favour.......

or not I suspect, but how do we know?

Headhunter said...

Well I know I objected and judging by comments here, I think a lot of people did. When I objected to the lap dancing club in New Cross, the council actually sent a pack of all the rejection/support letters they had received to every one who had sent one.

They haven't done that for this, good thing too I guess as it must tie up a whole bunch of civil servants photocopying for a week to get all that info sent out, however I'm sure if you really wanted to find out what people were saying/who had actually rejected the proposal you could request a pack

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