October The CPCA has submitted its objection to the Change of Use of 25 Church Road to Bromley Council's Planning department. You can see the full letter from the CPCA Planning Subcommitee here (opens in new window).

Planning Commitee Report for AGM May 2009

To me, AGMs are interesting in that they give us the only real opportunity to take stock and reflect on the past year’s activities. It always leaves me surprised and contented in just how much of a direct influence we have in what Prince Charles considers to be the single aspect of our lives that affects us all – the built environment, and particularly the historic built environment. The CPCA Planning Committee’s remit and practice aspires to protect, preserve and improve it for the enjoyment and benefit of all. We place ourselves alongside those staunch bureaucracies and other amenity groups to effectively manage the historic asset at the local level. Conservation areas continue to be under attack. Cherished streetscapes rely on traditional forms and detail for much of their architectural impact and historic character, yet subtle features are being lost and old buildings degraded and replaced, resulting in visual catastrophe. There are steps being taken to mitigate, if not turn the tide, and we contribute to that process.

So, it’s been another busy year, what with lots of issues absorbing our time, and here is a résumé of the work we have achieved in the past year.

The number of applications scrutinised is slightly down this year but still reflect a considerable workload. We commented on 418 cases as against 450 last year. This breaks down into 272 against 315 last year in Bromley, 112 against 81 last year in Croydon, 25 against 54 last year in Lambeth and 2 against 0 last year in Southwark, and none in Lewisham. This also includes 3 licensing applications against 12 last year, 6 appeals against 9 last year and 14 public requests for advice. To explain our possible influence: our responses have ranged from windows to new buildings, involving a guesstimated £75m worth of construction. We are not always aware of the results of our advice as we lack the resources for accumulation of statistical data, analysis and evaluation, but in general do find that our efforts are successful.

We dealt with several significant, controversial and politically charged development cases including those at 115 Church Road, Gayfere at Grange Hill, Victory Place 51-59 Westow Street, 76-78 Westow Street and more. Our remit includes supporting our Crystal Palace Park team with the planning issues of the Masterplan application and Local Public Inquiry, as already mentioned by our Chair, to which we devote as much time and energy as is deemed necessary.

Planning policing and enforcement remain the sensitive matters with which we have to deal, not helped by those who for one reason or another elect to flout the law. It’s an issue, however, that we must not shirk from if we are to be fair and responsible. This year we have triggered 28 enforcement cases – just 4 less than last year, and that is too many, which indicates that people are still content not to pay heed to the law or the sensitivities of the community. The huge illuminated advertising sign at Vicars Oak (top of Anerley Hill) was, after much egg on Bromley’s face, finally dismissed on appeal but we still await Bromley enforcement action. Enforcement mainly affects the Triangle, and our scepticism of the good news hype has been borne out as we see the continuing change in the retail/commercial mix, widespread use of cheap materials, shoddy workmanship and standardisation of shopfront design resulting in gradual adverse changes in the shopping centre with dire consequences on trade and employment and a loss of local distinctiveness. When comparing places where there is pride in the particular identity of a locality, and the pleasure, harmony and benefit that that naturally brings, I am amazed that an unfortunate number of Crystalites / Palacites choose to remain oblivious to the physical connection.

Our continuing involvement with Conservation Area Advisory Panels and local amenity groups and societies assists our work and provides us with an insight into dealing with our own issues. There may be a breakthrough in our attempt to set up Conservation Area Advisory Panels in Lambeth; with perseverance and weight of community engagement and empowerment we are hopeful of making further progress in the coming year. Additionally, we continue to attend seminars and conferences in order to improve and expand our areas of expertise.

In terms of strategic policy, we have made much ground. We have provided commentaries on new documents including Local Development Frameworks and Implementation Plans, Scoping Reports, Statements of Community Involvement, and Sustainability Appraisals for Draft SPD and Conservation Area Statements – where we have made particularly good progress in Croydon and Lambeth. In addition we have commented on the Stakeholder Consultation Plan for Transport on how the Boroughs are to implement the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy. This is in line with the government’s review and reform of the planning process, to off-load work and responsibility by placing it into the community through local empowerment initiatives. Our reservations about effective consultation, now superseded by terms such as ‘participation’ and ‘engagement’, remain. The recent relaxing of householders’ development rights could be a potential time bomb, impacting on the historic environment, particularly following the shelving of the Heritage Reform Bill.

With the able guidance and work of the web team, the planning pages of the website form another useful and welcome outward expression of the planning committee’s activities.

Unfortunately, we have not recruited to the planning team but have high hopes of expansion in the coming year through the efficient and interactive membership database.

Let me remind you that the planning committee exists for CPCA members and I continue to encourage you all to contact us, directly or through the Executive Committee, if there is anything that concerns you in the local built environment.

Don Bianco
CPCA, Planning Committee

North Croydon Conservation Area Advisory  Panel - looking to strengthen its team

As part of the CPCA Planning subcommittee’s work, we sit on a number of Conservation Area Advisory Panels which broadens our field outside of Crystal Palace / Upper Norwood and helps build up interest, knowledge and experience.

Interested in becoming involved in the work of the NCCAAP in scrutinising planning applications? If you would like to know more about the Panel and its work or are interested in joining, please get in touch or Click Here for more about this voluntary role.

Don Bianco, CPCA Planning subcommitee