Brockley Cross monster refused

Lewisham Council has refused an application to take the B&M Motors building in Brockley Cross (a crazy-paved bungalow with a load of old motors parked on its forecourt) and turn it into something even worse.

Never in the history of BC has one piece of architecture united a community against it. In its current form, it's an ugly, stupid piece of design that would dominate a narrow strip of pavement and doom the street level to another empty unit, in order that the developer could flog some cramped flats above it. The site is a tricky one, but whatever the right answer to the question "how should we redevelop 1-1a Brockley Cross?" is - this isn't it.

The application will now go to appeal. Thanks to Monkeyboy for the update.

29 comments:

Andy said...

Greenwich Council would have waved this through. Lewisham Council is hardly blemish-free in these types of situation, but they do usually stop the genuine turkeys getting through

anon said...

The west side definitely needs more love, it's become a bit of a dumping ground for bad development, etc in Brockley. Wasted opportunity really, there is room for some great developments there

Lord Rodgers said...

It would be interesting to know the grounds for planning refusal - it doesn't look too dissimilar to many other developments in Brockley, indeed the whole of lewisham and beyond - "developer could flog some cramped flats" could apply to any of those, especially, nearby, round the back of the Barge.

Brendan Foster + Partners said...

Bloody hell, that is an abomination

Lord Rodgers said...

the documents online at the councils 'planning portal' are a bit confusing - this picture is captioned as 'a scheme to address the suggestions of the Brockley Society' - I didn't read on to see what these suggestions might be, but I can only guess they were something like "a cross between a brick shithouse and architecture associated with german defences prior to the D-Day landings - please." In which case the architects followed these directions closely.
The previous outline drawings of proposals looked tolerable within the parameters of third rate architects spending a couple of hours on a 'design' i.e., perfectly normal and usually passed by planning departments.

Aricana said...

Maybe there is still some hope if the council has turned down on the eastside, it might be easier to build a case for them not passing it, or something hideously similar, on the westside in future!

Brockcock said...

The Brockley Society only care about the preservation of house prices in the conservation area

Gio said...

I don't think this tiny slither of land would look good with anything built on it. It's either blue glass, or reused beige bricks, or slate grey. So depressing. Can't we club together and buy it and keep it as a patch of grass?

Brock Lee said...

I've often thought the same about the Rivoli, an untapped goldmine, would be a fantastic venue for some acousitc gigs from big artists. Problem i see now though, as i get a little bit older, is the people that would come would not love the building as much as us - they would drop their drinks on the ballroom floor, they would scribble sweet nothings on the walls and the beautiful edges would begin to erode. It is a fantastic idea and i would love to see it but i would also insist on all ticket holders to enter into a contract for them all to be jointly liabale for all and any damage to the venue .
I think the way the owners go about it at the moment may be a bit pedestrian, they could do a few more gigs, but it probably suits the venue not to. If they had gigs there and the old charm of the building began to be lost under the dirty shoes and grubby fingers of a 1000 revellers, the likes of Marvel and Strictly would soon stop filming there.

terrencetrentderby said...

Classic regressive NIMBYism.

Brockley Nick said...

They do have gigs there. Not many, granted.

Gu Est said...

we need a large shop on the ground floor not apartments. That is an important spot for the cross and ground floor apartments would spoil it for the square

Cynic Ali speaking said...

....or, if let off the leash, those developers might just use cheaper materials that aren't 'in keeping' and they might cram more levels into their increased 'skyline'... A cynic like me suspects a developers priority is making money - which is completely understandable. Encouraging self builds would probably do a lot more to encourage good design as the developer ends up living in the place after its been built!

Tamsin said...

Unfair. Broc. Soc. put a lot of effort into one or two major events for everyone to enjoy each year, on-going work in keeping Brockley as green and pleasant as it currently is, and a watchful eye on the obligations of developments in a Conservation Area to "preserve or enhance" the existing built environment. There is no way what is depicted in Nick's post is in keeping with the intention of suggestions made by the Brockley Society, although heaven knows how the developers/architects choose to interpret things.

Monkeyboy said...

well you'd have to spend a lot to buy a small patch at a busy intersection. it would end up as the most expensive dog toilet in london.

London needs homes, just employ a decent architect

Matt Milton said...

There's a very low ceiling on how much self-builds can be encouraged, unfortunately, for the simple reason that land in London is phenomenally expensive! You simply
cannot buy a plot of land in London anymore unless you intend to build a massive block of flats on it, or are very wealthy– even small plots cost £800,000+. So the only private self-builds are by rich people who already have million-pound properties to sell; it’s a luxury activity that doesn’t really make financial
sense.

Matt Milton said...

There’s a vicious circle here: plots of land in London are priced according to what they are worth; but what they are worth is based upon the assumption that the buyer will 1000% maximise his profit, i.e. build the tallest, biggest building and fill it with the maximum number of flats.
All of which makes it very hard for a cash-strapped council: they have, obviously, a lot of pressure to get the most amount of money they can for the valuable asset of their land (they may even be legally obliged to accept the highest offer). Frankly, it's refreshing to hear of a council denying planning permission. Hardly ever happens in Lambeth.

Damian said...

Allowing more floor is not the same as removing all local authority involvement. I'm not suggesting developer free reign, just a different approach from planners

Cynic Ali speaking said...

Fair enough but I'm not sure what the different approach should be? The reason for stipulating that materials are 'in keeping' with the surroundings is to stop developers using cheap crappy materials. The reason for limiting skylines is to stop tower blocks going up in the middle of a line of terrace houses or developers squeezing another storey onto a site by specifying lower ceilings. I'm not saying that planners showing flexibility on materials or skyline is never appropriate - sometimes it is, but we shouldn't be naïve as to think that developers will use increased flexibility to improve design. The planners have a tough job to influence what goes up - there influence is often limited to saying what can't be done rather than what should... They have people shouting about the demand for new homes and calling for less regulation on one side, and people complaining about rubbish design on the other...

terrencetrentderby said...

Because there is a chronic shortage or shops in the vicinity...

frank said...

That's a relief. On the subject of awful flats the new Rivoli Apartments (nothing to do with the ballroom) by the bridge in ladywell is up there with the shittest designed and built buildings I've had the misfortune to see going up. They are awful and look like they're falling into decay when actually they're just cowboy built. The fake art deco glue factory frontage previously on the site was like the taj mahal in comparison. So don't expect good decisions from Lewisham planning. Slums of the future flying up all over the shop!

terrencetrentderby said...

"The Brockley Society is a community association whose primary aim is to enhance the quality of our local area, promote community activity and improve facilities. It is run entirely by volunteers and is open and free to all residents of the Brockley Conservation Area as well as others who are interested"
Sounds a tad snobbish and conservation area centric, they should be called The Brockley Conservation Area Society.

Tamsin said...

What's snobbish about "open and free" and "as well as others who are interested"? Inevitably Conservation Area centric because of its origins. When Lewisham woke up to what was happening with its built heritage protected by no more than the limited planning powers with each decision made on a case by case basis and introduced Conservation Areas in the 1990s, part of the package had to be a residents' association for each one. Both Brock. Soc and the Telegraph Hill Society started off with "Conservation" in their names (still on the THS mugs, which are now becoming collectors items as we are down to the last box) but dropped it because it was potentially off-putting. If they tried to expand their geographic borders beyond the Conservation Area they would again get it in the neck. As always - dammed if you do and dammed if you don't...

Robert said...

To be fair. Lewisham planners resisted proposals for this site in Ladywell to be developed - the original building was locally listed. The consent was given at appeal by the central government inspectorate.

terrencetrentderby said...

Free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can't.
It's a thin line between these groups and national socialism Tamsin.

Robert said...

The architect used for this scheme is friends with the developer, and was not up to the job - though a nice enough chap. I saw half a dozen iterations of the design - and the architect was shoved from pillar to post by the planning officer - and to a certain extent BrocSoc too - though nothing that came back was really suitable. The visualisation shown here was from an earlier proposal - it is not the scheme that has just been refused.

Please - I really hope that they go back to the drawing board with a different architect. BrocSoc suggested to the developer that they would organise (for free) a
limited architectural competition to solve the problems of this site. I
hope that they come back to the society and take them up on that.

Frank said...

I stand corrected having read up on this now. So the adhesive factory was actually another case where Lewisham made a good decision, to refuse, followed by the spurious decision by an inspectorate officer from bristol to grant permission at appeal, and getting it so wrong in terms of his assessment of the earlier building's contribution to the area and the (lack of) quality of the proposals! I'm not against development (I'm an architect) but what has been built is so horrific and poorly designed inside and out, I just can't believe that wasn't apparent to supposedly experienced people reading the drawings. It just makes one mourn the loss of an attractive landmark building. I might send that bloke some before and after photos of the sit. He might look at them if I put them in a brown envelope.

Monkeyboy said...

I wonder how stretched planning departments are willing or able to resist moneyed private developers? If i was a council making cuts to social service, would i consider trimming planning? Also would a talented person with an interest in architecture or building choose to persue a career in a planiing department or a developer? Just pondering, i may be off the mark.

shardes said...

Quit possibly the ugliest building, I've seen in a long time. It takes 7 years to train as architect, submit something like in your last year, you'd get a big fat F. What is it with architects that they do not take the surrounding environment into account. Bunch of show ponies who take the piss cause they know they don't have to live in it or perhaps worse, opposite it.

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