Residential proposal for Brockley Police Station

Brockley Police Station has been sold, but its sui generis planning status means that the buyer will have to get Council approval for its conversion plans. So we asked the Council for a comment on whether planning officers had a preference for its redevelopment - the area would benefit from more high quality space for offices, retail, dining, drinking or even a gym.

Like many readers, we hope that at least some of the space will be given over to one or more of these uses. This is a rare opportunity to build something different in the area and the Council have significant influence over what gets built. So here's what we were told:

“We are keen for the locally listed building to be retained and have received a pre-application enquiry proposing residential use. The Council assesses every application on its own merits. Any potential use would need to be assessed against the impacts not only upon the locally listed building, but also the local area.”

So there we go. It's going to be flats.

39 comments:

Subo said...

Would there have been any parking for a gym?

Brockley Nick said...

Imo it would not have been a good location for a gym.

RB said...

I don't understand the "oh no, more flats" type of criticism on this site.


Are you are of just how many young professionals are desperate for housing in London? How many have to share houses with 5 people they don't know (or like) or live in Zone Z just so they can have a roof over their head?


Post-2005 mungos who rolled into Brockley with their and their spouses near-6 figure salaries who bought 4 bedroom Victorian Mansions for £200K might scoff at the idea of someone else having a place to live, but to suggest that a flat is less desirable than a gym, yet another shop (presumably a deli) or anything else seems rather like pulling up the ladder.

Emma said...

I don't think there's enough footfall on that road for it to be a viable location for a restaurant or shop. It could work as offices given it is close to the station but given the high demand for housing in the area I'm not surprised the buyer is looking at building flats.

Priceless said...

@RB & Tim Young professionals can't buy flats around here, they are far too expensive. There are also no affordable starter family homes. Any residential development, will just become more buy to let investments for the landed gentry of Brockley and beyond (those foreign investors).

Brockley Nick said...

To be clear, I am not opposed to building lots of new flats in brockley, or indeed at this location. But all areas need balance and my preferred approach would be for the ground fkoor to be a restaurant and the upper floor to be flats or offices.

Brockley Nick said...

The developer will always and everywhere seek to build flats. That is the best way to makemoney. The planners' job is to ensure balanced development of an area, which means sometimes building something other than flats.

As for whether a restaurant could cope - it's very close to brockley station near smiles which was always busy. It's arguably better located than meze mangal, whixh is packed every night, even after its expansion. Any good restaurant would do well here.

Tim said...

Nick: Mezze Mangal is on a main road. Smiles went out of business.

Priceless: Even if they are bought by investors, who do you think lives in them? More property supply = lower prices at the margin, whether owned or rented. And it's funny, becuase two young professionals bought the flat below me just a couple of months ago.

warmer said...

having a go at people who moved into the area with near 6 figure salaries but then saying that young people need somewhere to live, well these flats are going to go for over £400K for a small 2 bed so will need near 6 figure salaries to afford them. A mixed use development will always be better for the area, you get the extra housing but also money spent in the area, at the expense of what 5 extra ground floor flats?

JPM said...

A restaurant below flats is unlikely. The flats above will then have mortgage and insurance difficulties. The Seager Distillery being a case in point, and the unit down at Loampit Vale (Renaissance) which is still empty.

Of course these developers will promise the world, but they will rarely deliver. It will be and should be flats. It's close to the station, and so a perfect location.

The Brockley Nick said...

I am sure the developers will make every effort to increase the packing density and give as many young professionals as they can the chance to join the property owning class. A former police station will no doubt have a number of small compact rooms, ideal for this purpose. Should the residents be in the habit of getting roaring drunk after night on the town, they might be comforted by the thought that, when they can return to Brockley, a night in a police cell awaits, but in this case, tastefully outfitted with all their familiar mod cons. I am looking forward to the sales pitch for this latest addition to Brockleys' stock of compact and bijou dwelling units. There is surely scope for a playful mix of heritage and irony, that may resonate with the residents mixed feelings of whether they should laugh or cry.

JPM said...

I was thinking a suitable name for it could be: BROCKLEY NICK.

Crofty said...

Meanwhile, a local builder told me yesterday that the owner of the Rivoli Ballroom is looking to sell - asking £6million apparently. Would be a very sad day if that became flats too.

Woman of Brockley said...

There's a wonderful irony in the idea that people should get into their cars and drive to the local gym and then pay money to exercise inside. What's wrong with walking?

JPM said...

Give me his phone number.

anonymous said...

To be honest the owners of the Rivoli don't make the best use out of that amazing space. Hopefully someone can turn it into a showcase venue for regular shows and gigs which is what it deserves. We saw how quickly the damon albarn gig sold out so it proves there is a demand for it in the area. I'm sure the council won't be stupid enough to sell to developers-famous last words. If they did I'm sure there would be outrage amongst many people in the community.

Headhunter said...

I think they tried to flog it off for conversion into flats a few years back but I thought that English Heritage had got involved and that it was now listed or something? I think it was on BC 3 or 4 years ago....

Headhunter said...

I think you're right, it's not in an obvious location but as Brockley gentrifies (for better or worse) there seems to be more and more demand for bars and restaurants. New places like The Gantry and Orchard are always rammed so there still appears to be capacity. As for Meze Mangal it's not that badly sited - on a main road, lots of passing footfall, lots of buses go past so it's very visible however although it's an excellent place to eat, the sheer lack of decent alternatives anywhere nearby means it also is consistently packed out most nights...


I don't suppose we can expect Lewisham planning to step in and insist on anything other than flats though, they tend to lack imagination and don't seem to have the resources to enforce anything or do anything other than go along with what developers want...

Headhunter said...

Exactly, it;s a question of balance and provision of facilities. If it were left up to the free market, we could simply pave over the whole of Greater London including all parks and build high rise blocks in uniform rows. This would ensure the best use of land and highest possible density of worker bees but fortunately we don't live at the mercy of what market forces/developers want in the quest for profit...

Tim said...

Will walking raise your heartrate and significantly improve your cardiovascular fitness?
Will walking improve your flexibility?
Does walking allow you to work all the muscle groups in your body?
Can you walk (enjoyably) when the weather is bad?

Tim said...

Totally agree. They could have student nights, more gigs, keep the existing stuff. and other club nights there, given the large population of youngsters in the area. There is a massive boom of interest in ballroom dancing in the country, surely a wise entrepreneur could take advantage.
That said, local residents would probably object.

Pebble_dash said...

I know that more housing is needed in inner London and the housing market is mental at the moment with demand far outstripping supply. And that Brockley is a very attractive place to live (hence why I moved here : ) ) but it seems that Brockley is growing faster than it can cope with. For example, it is almost impossible to get on an Overground train between 8am and 8.30am at peak traveling time.
I know 5 flats isn't going to make a huge difference to this but combined with the developments on the Sainsbury's side, I can only see this getting worse. I'm not saying they should stop building residential developments but consider the effect it might have on quality of life too. It would be good to see more mixed development proposals considering the extra people they are enticing into the area. It would definitely encourage me to stay local on the weekends and evenings etc.
I also agree completely with the comments about the Rivoli Ballroom. I tried to get tickets to the Damon Albarn gig but it sold out so quickly. A live music venue would be an amazing asset to the community especially in such a beautiful and historic venue!

developing interest said...

It certainly is a gem. But the owner is content to make easy money out of renting out to film companies and just a couple of nights a month of live events. Rumours of a sale have been floating around for a few years now, so don't hold your breath.


Planning in Lewisham seems to favour residential developments over entertainment. These are investment vehicles for foreign owners who use London as a place to stash their cash. Look at Lewisham town centre….full of new apartment buildings, but precious little provision for entertainment. Few pubs, theatres. Not even a cinema. There used to be many in the past, they have all closed or demolished, one after another. It does not seem to be in the development plan.


The Rivoli is one of the few surviving dance halls. It is listed and that adds huge costs and liabilities for any developer.


Any place of entertainment is very vulnerable to complaints regarding noise. People move into a flat in a new development and immediately start making complaints. Councils tend to respond by imposing restrictions that make the place unviable.

Tim said...

I sent the following email to the 6 councillors representing Brockley and New Cross - I'm curious to hear their thoughts. It's a personal note, not trying to represent anyone else, so you can't quibble with the content!

I'm writing to you all as a
resident of Brockley. I've never contacted a political representative
before, so I'm interested to see what my experience is like.



I refer you the Brockley Central blog (http://brockleycentral.blogspot.co.uk/)
and recent threads: "Residential proposal for Brockley Police Station"
and "Goldsmiths to transform St. James ...". If you look at the comment
threads, one theme seems to be a belief that Lewisham Council does not
appear to have a very coherent policy for encouraging the development of
communities and High Streets. I personally believe that the area
around Brockley station and Brockley High Street is operating below
potential in that the layout seems to have changed very little over the
last several years, despite activity in the area rising sharply. Can
there be many other busy stations in Zone 2 where there is no permit
system in place for parked cars, and where the roads are in such bad
condition? I know that there is a development that has been approved at
the MOT garage, that should go ahead this year. But how is it
reasonable that until now that garage has been allowed to use the
surrounding streets as a area for parking all their vans? How is this
not selfish, and surely it is discouraging development of a more
attractive area?


Reading the thread on Goldsmiths, it seems people around that
area are equally cynical that Lewisham Council is trying to develop the
aesthetics and atmosphere of the area. People have also commented that
despite the number of new flats being built around Lewisham roundabout,
there has been no concurrent improvement in high street amenities.


I guess my questions to you are:

- What do you think of the themes on the blog, and would you care to comment, perhaps by joining the conversation?
- Do you read the blog?
-
Does anyone at Lewisham Council have a vision for what High Street and
Commercial areas should look like and where can I read about that?

- Why do people think that Lewisham Council is less effective than other councils - Southwark, for example?

I'm
sure readers of the blog would love to feel like the Council is
monitoring their concerns - it would be great to hear from you!

Jon from SE4 said...

Good. More flats, the better. The site isn't suitable anyway for a commercial premise, plus there are many other empty shops on Brockley Road that is more suitable.

Sal said...

They also have a flat ban on wedding events, which has always seemed like a total waste to me. They could make money hand over fist if they allowed high-end wedding receptions. As an event promoter myself, I would love to see the venue used more for gigs and events. I love The Magic Theatre, but it never happens often enough, and doesn't really cater to my tastes fully.

Tim said...

I'm sure you agree that if they cultivated high streets and areas around stations, and made them even more desirable places to spend time, people would relish going there after work and at the weekend and spend their money in Lewisham. Result would a rise in business rates and other tax revenues, which could then be spent on vital services.

Tim said...

"the last thing people here want"


Speak for yourself buddy. I would love it.

Tim said...

3 of those four things don't require footfall.

And the restaurant closed.

Brockley Nick said...

not because of lack of demand. And the restaurant unit is up for sale. So there is precedent.

Pebble_dash said...

It would be interesting to hear if you get a response and what they say. I know the East Dulwich ward Councillors are very vocal on their local forum. Whether it's liked or not - it seems a lot gets addressed from Councillors having a presence on local forums/blogs

dim wit said...

When are they going to start building on the allotments alongside the trainlines? Barriedale & the ones behind St Norbert's Road - stick some high-rises on that you could cram loads of people in!

Monkeyboy said...

Re, the vans. I hate them as much as you but not sure what grounds LBC has to stop them parking on unrestricted roads as long as they are taxed, MOTd and insured?

Tim said...

Well I'm sure I will prompt howls of protest from those who don't like parking schemes, and I agree that it's a blunt instrument, and there are more subtle options, I'm sure:

But some sort of parking scheme: eg residents parking only between 8pm and 7am.

Or no parking for more than two hours.

Or whatever.

But I think it's a bit of a defeatist attitude to say there's nothing we can do. Re the vans, they will be moving soon, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Generally: I can't believe that people are allowed to just plonk their cars down outside the station for as long as they like. It irritates me, especially the thought that they've come from far afield to use Brockley as a car park.

Tim said...

I cannot think of a better way of local representatives engaging with local residents, and yet nary a word.

Rosie said...

The roads are being resurfaced in Ladywell and up Vicar's Hill right now. Some of the roads on the Brockley side of Hilly Fields were done last month. And despite the length of time it's taken, the council has spent a lot of money doing up Ladywell's streetscape as well as the amenities in the parks (though credit for some of the improvements are also down to the volunteers making sure the river is kept clear of weeds and new trees planted).

Pedant Rights said...

Does driving do any of these things? Walking does raise HR and improve CV fitness, running even more so. Any dynamic exercise improves flexibility. No exercise allows you to work all your muscle groups. There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. The issue really is not using a gym but driving to it.

Robert said...

I agree with Tim. Most large music venues of note are close to houses. To say we can't have any interesting urban activity going on near housing is ridiculous. That's the point of living in a city.

Dex said...

Just got a letter through the door (we live across the road from the police station) which sets out plans. The developers plan to convert the existing building into 4 houses, and build a terrace of 5 2-storey houses to the rear of the site (facing on to Kneller Road). Artist's impressions suggest gardens to the centre of the site, replacing existing parking area.

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