Building in Brockley's mews

BC has spotted a new planning application to build two houses in Ashby Mews, at the rear of Upper Brockley Road.

The scheme involves the demolition of two existing garages at the rear of 153 and 155 Upper Brockley Road, and their replacement with two 2-storey, 2-bed mews houses.

Construction work in Brockley's historic mews is controversial, because it arguably changes the area's character by removing green, leafy space and increasing population density.

There are quite a few similar sites in the conservation area which could be used for property development. On the one hand, London needs more affordable homes; but on the other hand, should we destroy the area's historic mews to create it?

What do BC readers think?

(Anyone who wishes to comment on this planning application can email planning @lewisham.gov.uk including the Application Number, your name, address, comment and reason for interest.)

68 comments:

Ken said...

That's not the only planning application for Ashby Mews.

There is also 2-5 Ashby Mews (recently the subject of a mysterious fire). That calls for the complete demolition of the buildings and the infilling and doubling in height of a new set.

The developer claims that the five additional top floor toilets are for workers only but it appears like live-work space (Additional toilets to separate units below. Probably why the developer kept on referring to them as 'dwellings'.)

It's an absolute disgrace.

Brockley Nick said...

I'm certainly in favour of preserving our mews and the following is not meant to be an endorsement of these particular plans, which I haven't looked at in detail...

However, Ashby Mews is about as far from a leafy green space as is imaginable. It's a war zone of craters, embers, rubble and rubbish.

A major part of the problem with some of Brockley's mews seems to be that few people use them other than rogue businesses, with no respect for the people living nearby. If there were a few more homes, the residents would perhaps be able to police the mews more effectively. The performance of the authorities in policing our mews has been abject.

Imagine if Ashby Mews was a place where people lived and cared for their immediate surroundings - it could be a place that you could walk down without having to watch where you trod.

Anonymous said...

The experience I've had with muse dwellings leads me to be wary of them. The density issue can be a major problem, given that people don't talk to their neighbours and level of lifestyle expectations people have when they step onto the property ladder.

Our house is over 110 years old. Some house were built late 80's in the mews that runs at a right angle to our garden. Our house is 4 storeys tall and we have tall trees, the mews neighbours don't like it. Our adjacent neighbours do. Who's views do we consider first or more?

We recently trimmed the trees at a not insignificant sum. Shortly after we receive a planning notification that the mews neighbours are want to put in roof lights.

The installed 'roof lights' aka velux/loft windows open out directly into our sitting room.

And because of the dwelling density that mews developments produce, it's feels weird.

We'll get over it but this is something that should be considered.

Ken said...

It is a shame to hear the views of this site's editor expressed so liberally. You presmuably do not have a mews at the end of your garden. On the other hand, where I once had silence I will now have new neighbours: twenty-four-seven, three hundred and sixty five days of the year.

Might it not be too difficult to imagine that some of the owners of these mews properties wish them to become rundown in an effort to introduce change more easily? Your response would certainly suggest that such behaviour should be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Agree absolutely. The current owner of 2-5 Ashby Mews (St Aidan's Group?) knew what he was buying when he purchased a few years back. Since which time he has done nothing to improve either the building nor the road. To increase the hight of the buildings and infill at such a scale displays some greed in my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

Is Ashby Mews a move to introduce a housing estate between neighbouring gardens?

This is what the developer's own site says under policy. It aims to:

"Provide affordable housing through partnering with housing associations."

Brockley Nick said...

Ken, I'm simply saying that many of the muses are in a shocking state and many of the people who live nearby Ashby Mews in particular have complained to me about the fires and other forms of anti-social behaviour that take place there and which cause them problems.

Something should be done - the Council are clearly not going to rennovate them or ensure that they are properly policed - so encouraging more residences there could be one answer.

I have neighbours, by the way, plenty of them. I like having neighours and I see that as part of the deal of living in an inner city area. I'd rather live next door to people than to bonfires.

Just my view, however. You're welcome to yours. I should be clear that I was talking in general and not about the specific proposals that Kate mentions and certainly not 2-5 Ashby Mews - the history of which I am aware of.

Non said...

I'd rather see much needed SME enterprises providing work for locals. Why not some offices, they'd be low rent.

Ken said...

Just because the 'muses' are in a 'shocking state' is no reason to call for the introduction of a thinly disguised housing estate at the ends of other residents' gardens. (I suspect no such estate will be placed at the end of yours.)
Presumably your proximity to neighbours is due more to your economic position, and not your love of your fellow man.
The fires where extremely useful - to the developer. The anti-social behaviour that takes place there is due to his tenants. The council cannot 'rennovate' someone else's land in the first instance, and they should be policed by the owner anyway, who has more to gain in failing to do so.
To suggest that this may occur through an increase in residency is absurd and I do not accept that residents have to accept an increase in order to 'police' the mews and keep it free of dirt or bonfires. (Caused again by residents of the developer.)

Just my view. You're welcome to yours, however general.

Nicola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brockley Nick said...

Ken

I don't think your manner is called for. Unless you disagree with either of the following statements then we have no argument:

1. Ashby Mews is in a shocking state

2. The best-kept part of Ashby Mews is the bit just outside the small houses in Ashby Mews.

Point one is a problem, point two suggests a possible solution. Though not necessarily the solution Kate has written about.

Anonymous said...

Yeah but Nick - come off it - I get your point about Ashby, but I really get Ken's point about having neighbours where there were none before. And something does need to be done about letting people buy up business properties (letting them run down) in the mews and then turning them into property. The developer wants to hand these over to housing association - so I don't buy the argument that the neighbours will want to look after/improve the area either.

The mews need preserving - our argument should be with the council - and we should ensure they enforce the planning regs.

Brockley Nick said...

Anon - the original question was not about this development specifically and certainly not about 2-5 Ashby Mews, which Ken dragged in to this. It was about whether building in mews was good or bad in principle - whether losing green space was acceptable:

"On the one hand, London needs more affordable homes; but on the other hand, should we destroy the area's historic mews to create it?"


I'm saying in terms of the condition of some of the mews, there is nothing to lose. Ken has his own agenda. If he'd said "we need to be mindful of the loss of privacy that occurs when mews properties are converted. It happened to me and in my case I felt it was unacceptable," I would have said that's a very fair point.

The question of whether the people next door have a right to live without neighbours is one that needs to be judged on a case by case basis surely? With each application, the neighbours will presumably object and the Council will have to decide whether the development will create an unreasonable loss of privacy.

Also, the constant likening of homes developed for housing associations with "estate" is offensive and ignorant.

Brockley Nick said...

Also, a quick point about letting commercial properties get run down... The alternative is to let them out to businesses, in which case the local residents have neighbours anyway, but with added banging and clattering (these are light-industrial units we're talking about, after all).

Anonymous said...

I also agree with Ken. I think you're on a sticky wicket here Nick.

Brockley Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil said...

Look, it's simple. ken's was living next door to an unused mews property for a while and liked it - it allowed him to imagine that he was living on a country estate and he didn't have to see any people - who he clearly doesn't like. The mews behind his back garden was going to hell, but who cares about the people who actually live there already or the others who were affected by the smoke from fires being lit there.

Ken would rather it stayed that way and doesn't like any discussion of how else it might be.

Does that clear it up?

Guess what Ken - you didn't buy a country estate - you don't have a right to live free of neighbours. You bought a town house in zone two, backing on to a workshop. If no-one wants those workshops any more then they are going to go in to decline. The obvious solution is to convert them in to small houses that don't particularly overlook the gardens they're next to.

There are residential mews all across London. Many of them are very nice. I used to live on one, it was nice.

Brockley Nick said...

Anon - as far as I can see, Ken is arguing with things I am not saying, rather than things I am saying.

sonofagun said...

Tell them about the new proposal for the Talbot Nick,As Felix has not seemed to kept the blog up to date as promised.

Osh said...

sonofsgun what has the talbot got to do with mews development?

They said they'd update us as they went along and it's only been 1 month.

Headhunter said...

Not only this but I see that the dreaded nusery on Manor Ave (which more or less backs onto 2-5 Ashby Mews) is back through appeal. It looks like developers are determined to turn that little corner into a mini business park. What happened with the other development on the site next door to 2-5 Ashby Mews? There were plans to set up some kind of offenders rehabilitation centre there on property previously rented to the council as offices.

So that's 3 potential developments along Ashby Mews and an appeal for a site on Manor Avenue which backs onto Ashby Mews. Of these developments, only 1 is residential. If, as per the council, Lewisham Borough is so short of residential sites, why do we need more commercial development mixed into the midst of a supposed conservation area?

I can understand Nick's view that the existing buildings along the mews are very dilapidated and could do with renovation, however I don't think that developers should be allowed to buy up land like this, allow it to fall into complete disrepair along with illegal fires (which the council and police fail to prevent or trake any action over) and then make an application based around the fact that the area needs developing because it is run down! Why is it run down? Because they have allowed it to get that way!

The problem I have with developments along the mews is that it sets a precendent. I also live on a stretch of Manor Ave which backs onto a mews and fear that someone may try to develop it. I bought my flat at elevated cost because it has such a lovely green outlook to the rear. There is a tiny patch of land not far down the mews from my place which is subject to the occasional planning application but to date has been refused. Some developer or other is determined to cram a 2 bed house on an area the size of a postage stamp.

I understand that Lewisham Borough and London may need more residential building but why should this come at the expense of a conservation area? There are many, many sites across SE London and Lewisham, starting with Convoys Wharf, which must be suitable for developments. Similar sites previously used for light industrial purposes which have fallen into decay. The only reason developers wish to build in the conservation area is because they know they can make larger profits in a desirable spot. Look at the approval granted a short time ago for residential building on a section of Crystal Palace Park. Why is it necessary to build on green sites when there are so many brown sites still up for grabs?

Brockley Kate said...

Seems as though there are 2 (linked) questions of principle here:

1) Why on earth was planning permission originally given for business use in Ashby Mews?

and

2) Given that decision has proved to be a bad idea, shouldn't the units be restricted back to residential use again when the opportunity comes up?

(Also, question 3: Shouldn't the Ashby Mews experience should deter the council from granting business use permission for any other mews in the conservation area?).

I would be very interested to hear from anyone involved with Lewisham's planning department, local councillors and the Brockley Society on these points.

Hugh said...

I do enjoy the idle musings of bloggers.

Anonymous said...

So, HH, you're adopting a staunchly NIMBY viewpoint then?

Good for you old chap

Anonymous said...

"I would be very interested to hear from anyone involved with Lewisham's planning department, local councillors and the Brockley Society on these points."


I don't think that any of the above are particularly pro-active when it comes to responding to questions on blogs, expect, perhaps, the Green councillors, and they'll all be out at the next election - if any of them stand that is.

Ken said...

Nick, it's difficult to argue with much of what you say - as you never seem to say what you mean.

Neil, Ken's not living 'next door' to an unused mews property. The mews lies at the bottom of a garden and is historically connected to it. Neither was it, as this site's author also initimates, designed for industry -but stables, and later warehousing.

Neither have I imagined myself living in a country estate (or the socialist estate of your own musings). The fires lit at the back of the mews have little mystery to them. One engulfed the building that was subject to a demolition application by the owner. (Strange that.) The other, Neil, also owned by the same individual, does cause 'others who were affected by the smoke from fires being lit there' to remonstrate. But why should this be an either or?

In fact Ken (and others) would rather it did not stay that way. Neither would Ken (and others)choose to cave in to a developer seemingly hell bent on ignoring complaints - only to later introduce them as a planning gain. (Speak to my neighbour in Upper Brockley whose child has asthma and see what they think of such tactics!)

And guess what Neil? As much as I don' exist in some autocratic utopia, neither can you live in the opposite, without challenge. I don't know your own circumstances, but you do not have the right to twist the words of a concerned resident in the formation of your own dubious opinion.

For the record, I did not buy a 'town house in zone two, backing on to a workshop' but a heavily mortgaged flat - at which I work my bollocks off to maintain - backing on to a green space. THE DEEDS OF WHICH PREDATES LEWISHAM PLANNING LAW AND YOUR RIGHT TO GIGGLE AT MY LOSS.

Does that clear it up? (I doubt it.)

But Nick, why should 'workshops' that were never intended to be an ongoing industrial site go into decline anyway? Why do you ignore this (and so much else)? Why not simply improve what is there? Why not have warehousing space that operates on a 9-5 basis five days per week? Unless of course it is just a case of schadenfraude? (Very likely from what I read here.)

That you choose to say I 'dragged' this into discussion reveals your own agenda. I merely alerted people to your own thread about what was taking place in the mews based on what you invited people to comment on (but to what end we know not). I guess though that this did not 'amuse'.

Anonymous said...

Well put.

Another anon said...

Well done x 2 Ken.

Anonymous said...

Also agree with Ken. And Nick:for the record it is not at all offensive or ignorant to suggest that housing assoication properties are not kept up as well as owner occupied ones. At the worst it is a generalisation; but not one far removed from the truth. There are 5 such properties on the stretch of road I live in, not one of them kept up as well as the owner occupied places.

Monkeyboy said...

Ken, isn't it great that this blog - read by local counsellors - allows you to express your views.

Anonymous said...

"isn't it great that this blog - read by local counsellors - allows you to express your views."

and isn't part of the democratic process!

Monkeyboy said...

eh?

Brockley Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brockley Nick said...

@Ken

"Nick, it's difficult to argue with much of what you say - as you never seem to say what you mean."

Actually I made two very clear and simple statements, which you ignored, preferring to make all kinds of suppositions about my motives and personal circumstances.

"But Nick, why should 'workshops' that were never intended to be an ongoing industrial site go into decline anyway? Why do you ignore this (and so much else)? Why not simply improve what is there? Why not have warehousing space that operates on a 9-5 basis five days per week? Unless of course it is just a case of schadenfraude? (Very likely from what I read here.)"

So your suggestion to improve the mews is to build proper warehousing, rather than housing. Fine, why not simply say that, rather than attack me for suggesting that housing might improve the mews in some cases?

I don't happen to think that there will be any demand for small warehouse units on a relatively inaccessible site - but who knows!?

"That you choose to say I 'dragged' this into discussion reveals your own agenda. I merely alerted people to your own thread about what was taking place in the mews based on what you invited people to comment on (but to what end we know not). I guess though that this did not 'amuse'."

You keep on trying to attribute agendas to people and you seem confused - I didn't create this thread, Kate did. She asked for people to contribute to the debate. I read it and offered my opinion that many of the mews weren't nice green spaces at all and that some housing in some circumstances might help.

I went out of my way to say that I wasn't talking specifically about either this proposal or the 2-5 Ashby Mews proposal, which you keep talking about. You are setting up straw men.

@Anon -

"And Nick: for the record it is not at all offensive or ignorant to suggest that housing assoication properties are not kept up as well as owner occupied ones."

I would agree, but that isn't what was said. There were repeated references to "estates" being built along the mews - a silly comparison if you look at any of the proposals. Estates often have problems resulting from their scale, isolation and density and they can create ghettoes. The dog-whistle being blown by people referring to 'estates' in this context is that they don't want poorer people moving in. It's hardly subtle.

@Headhunter - there is already plenty of housing in Brockley's mews so are you sure that "setting a precedent" is much of a risk?

Turdsmith said...

Still, no mews is good mews.

sonofagun said...

Osh then how come he hasn't said about the planning permission for a dwelling at the pub

M said...

Because it's insignificant? Many landlords live above the pub they run.

osh said...

Exactly M. Offering to keep this blog up to date with the progress of the pub doesn't mean he's obliged to talk us through every single thing he does.

And it STILL has nothing to do with the mews!

sunofagun said...

Most threads move off the starting subject osh,And I dont think he will be living In the proposed dwelling, but selling It

M said...

What makes you think that?

sonofagun said...

Because the end part of the Talbot used to be a house but was incorporated into the pub,And now local residents have received a letter saying of this proposal to turn part of the pub into a dwelling.

M said...

Right. I still don't get why you think he'll be selling this rather than using it as accommodation for the landlord or staff, which would seem the more obvious conclusion to draw.
But even if he does sell it - so what?

sonofagun said...

There has been accommodation for staff,My point Is If he gets planning permission for that,And say a year down the line he's losing to much money In the pub which doe's happen In Brockley IE the locals not supporting It,It would be hard for Lewisham Council not to grant him further permission to change

sonofagun said...

There has always been accommodation for staff

M said...

Again, so what?
The pub is currently being renovated - great news.
If when it opens it fails then it's basically proof a pub won't work there - so let them turn it into flats.

Although, the secrecy and subterfuge you're alleging all seems a bit far fetched to me. I can't imagine the council turning down an application to convert the pub into flats anyway - they never usually do.

osh said...

sonofagun what does the application actually say. As far as I'm aware, the accommodation was in as bad a state as the rest of the pub, so natural that he'd want to make some significant changes, which might require new planning permission.

And he still doesn't owe you running commentary on everything he's doing - the planning permission request itself is a public process, so hardly a big secret. Just let the guy get on with making the pub a success.

sonofagun said...

Your right osh just hope you and M will be using It regularly,You can read the application on the Lewisham Council web site.

osh said...

If it's any good I will for sure.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a problem with alcohol osh or are you just a social drinker?

sonofagun said...

I think It will be dear thats for sure

Brockley Kate said...

Interesting stuff about the Talbot - dunno if Nick had heard of this before, but I hadn't. As ever, we can only report what we know. If any local residents would like to let us have a copy of this letter you've received re: accommodation at the Talbot, our email addresses are well-publicised on the blog. Let us know, we'll write about it - look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!

Brockley Kate said...

Oh right yeah, just checked the old Talbot thread and caught up with things.

This is exactly the kind of case where a bulletin board would work better than a blog!

Anyway, it seems interesting and I'm sure we'll get onto it (ahem).

Anonymous said...

The important thing is for you to investigate (fully), and this will then end so much speculation on so many things, and assist in getting things right.

osh said...

Anon, I guess you meant to say please eh?

malpas said...

I think the moon is made of blue cheese.

It's important that you investigate my claims fully to avoid speculation.

Headhunter said...

"@Headhunter - there is already plenty of housing in Brockley's mews so are you sure that "setting a precedent" is much of a risk?"

So far there is only really developement of the mews at the ends where they butt onto the paved streets, like at the end of Wickham Mews where it hits Ashby Rd or Wickham Mews where it hits Geoffrey Rd. There is nothing I'm aware of more than a house or 2 deep into the mews themselves other than garages and dilapidated outhouses. I oppose full scale development of the mews.

Brockley Nick said...

I would oppose "full-scale" development of the mews too.

Ashby Mews has a couple of houses, Harefield Mews has housing, etc.

Anonymous said...

@ Nick - that's exactly what was said - I quote

"The developer wants to hand these over to housing association - so I don't buy the argument that the neighbours will want to look after/improve the area either."

Brockley Nick said...

But that was not what I was taking issue with. What I was taking issue with was the following. I quote:

"Is Ashby Mews a move to introduce a housing estate between neighbouring gardens?"

"Just because the 'muses' are in a 'shocking state' is no reason to call for the introduction of a thinly disguised housing estate at the ends of other residents' gardens. (I suspect no such estate will be placed at the end of yours.)"

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

I think Ashby has development at the Geoffrey Rd end fronting Geoffrey Rd itself and at the other end there is residential development on Ashby Rd but not further down, in the middle of the mews, as far as I know. Harefield Mews has 1950s and 60s developments doesn't it? Nothing recent further along, at least since the area was defined a conservation area.

I could be wrong, I haven't ventured along every mews street, but there is no recent (in the last 20 years or so) residential development further along the mews than the ends.

These new developments seem to push things much further, extending quite a way along the Ashby Mews.

Brockley Nick said...

@hh - there are two small houses in the middle of Ashby Mews, not fronting on to Geoffrey Road. Have a look - they are a little oasis in an otherwise grotty strip.

Headhunter said...

Will have to take a look. What age are they? I thought that Lewisham BC, til now, had not approved residential construction along the mews, certainly at least since the area became a cons area.

I remember now that there are residential buildings on Harefield Mews, but as far as I remember they are original Victorian bldgs rather than recent additions. I actually viewed one through anm est agent a few years back which was clearly designed to have a stable on the ground floor.

Brockley Nick said...

They are late 20th Century I think.

When you walk down there, imagine allowing a handful of small houses with green roofs on some of our worst mews, to replace old garages, workshops or storage locker.

Headhunter said...

I don't completely disagree that replacement construction would be a good idea along Ashby Mews. Not sure about residential construction, but low level - 1 or 2 storey light commercial development, replacing the dilapidated mess that's is already along Ashby Mews, might work.

I really don't believe that new construction along the length of the mews would be a good idea though. I'm not sure that the proposals on the table for Ashby Mews are of the right scale however. It's hard to judge from the planning docs but I don't think I would want neighbours at the end of my garden all of a sudden. Office or light commercial operating in office/work hours would perhaps not be so bad however. Excluding some kind of mini factory or car repair shop or anything of that ilk that is.

I think the problem is that there is a fine line to tread. If Lewisham BC approves this say with various conditions that the new site should not contain noisy commercial businesses, who is going to enforce it? Lewisham BC is already unable to prevent illegal fires along the mews streets as it is. It seems totally uninterested in enforcement in the conservation area.

A neighbour of mine along Wickham Rd recently gained planning permission to build a garage and suspiciously large "outbuilding" fronting Wickham Mews. Lewisham BC clearly defined that this should not be used as a residential property, however what are they going to do if if it the owner disobeys? Probably nothing. If Lewisham BC had a better record of maintaining the conservation area, I would be less cautious.

Brockley Kate said...

Half the problem is the quality of the construction - for example, the small house which looks as though it's quite new on Ashby Rd (the bit between Wickham & Breakspears), which is on the corner of a mews road.
It is quite frankly cheap and minging. And it's a shame because it's quite a prominent site - not tucked away down inside the mews.

Anonymous said...

Well I hope its not same developer who owns 153 the front of that house had been in a shocking state for almost 2 years now.

Anonymous said...

In answer to a previous question, the old garages in Harefield Mews are being replaced by modern houseing - but kept within the 'mews style' and under the strict governance of Lewisham planning. A great example of an eyesore being turned into a safe and attractive centrepiece for Brockley Cross.

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