Dangerous and illegal parking has been a problem for a long time in Brockley Cross and it is hugely damaging to the area's prospects for regeneration. It got even worse when a van hire company set up shop right next to the dreaded double roundabout, some months ago.
We happen to live pretty close to Brockley Cross and pass through every day. At almost any given time, there are several large vans parked in Brockley Cross and the streets immediately leading off the area. Saturdays are usually even worse. Often, the vans are illegally parked on the pavement.
The reason for the problem is obvious - Brockley Cross is a terrible place to locate a van hire business. There is lots of traffic and relatively little parking. In addition to the cars owned by local residents, it's also a popular spot with commuters, who want to park close to Brockley Station and there a number of other businesses in the neighbourhood, which attract cars.
If we were thinking about starting a van hire business, it would be the last place that would even occur to us, in the same way we wouldn't think about locating a nuclear power plant or a five star hotel there.
We discussed the issue with Cllr Walton, who agreed to investigate its planning status. It's a tricky area, because of course the site has been used as office space for a long time. However, using the space for "vehicle hire" could be considered sui generis (a special case, not considered a normal use class) and that would mean that it would require planning permission.
Cllr Walton asked Lewisham Council officers to investigate the issue and received this response:
The Enforcement Officer has visited the site on two occasions. On the first visit only two vans were seen parked on the street in relation to the business. On his second visit yesterday, he witnessed the same.
The premises can be categorised as falling within Class B1 (Office) of the Town & Country Use Classes Order, 2006. For such a use to be classed as ‘sui generis’ there would need to be other factors involved. For example, a large number of vehicles parked in a yard attached to the premises from which the hire vehicles could be picked up, and later returned. There is no such arrangement in this particular instance.
This is an amazing answer, for two reasons. Firstly, we're astonished that the enforcement officer managed to visit the site on two occasions when there was no parking infringement and only two vans around. Secondly, because it's precisely because they haven't got any special parking provision that the problem is so acute.
Here is a picture taken recently. It could have been taken on almost any morning and it illustrates the problem perfectly - in the foreground, a truck blocks the parking bay so that parked cars can't get out, in the background, on the right-hand side, a van from the same company is parked on the pavement. It's fairly similar to the shots we took a few months ago.
Brockley Central regards it as its civic duty to be supportive to local businesses but only on condition that those businesses themselves behave responsibly towards the community they operate in. They are not charities, they are there to make money and in this case, the profits are being made at the expense of the safety of local people and of other businesses operating in the area.
So we're publishing this article both in the hope that it gives Cllr Walton some further evidence to present to Council officers and secondly that it reinforces the need to send more traffic wardens to police Brockley Cross. Because if it isn't a planning issue, it damn well is a parking issue.
We've never seen a traffic warden in Brockley Cross but we understand that they must have been at least twice. Please use this thread to report any sightings of traffic wardens in Brockley Cross.