Tower block plans approved despite 2,500 objections from residents

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter 

A council has approved plans for a controversial set of tower blocks up to 16 storeys tall despite more than 2,500 people objecting to the scheme.

Bromley council has approved plans to build the set of five tower blocks in Penge, including 230 new flats, 35 per cent of which would be ‘affordable’.

The five blocks come as a project from the Hadley Property Group and Clarion Housing Group, and will stretch from three to 16 storeys all on a site in Penge High Street.

The site is currently occupied by the Blenheim Shopping Centre, which will be knocked down to deliver the scheme.

The topic was discussed at a development control committee meeting for Bromley council on Tuesday. Alex Portlock, senior development manager at Hadley Property Group, said the proposal represented an opportunity to revitalise the “outdated” shopping centre on the site.

But, Labour councillor Simon Jeal, who represents the Penge and Cator ward, said at the meeting that the “overwhelming majority” of residents who had contacted him opposed the plans.

A petition against the project has received more than 2,500 signatures.

Ian Barrington, 64, is the owner of Designer Drapes in Penge High Street, and has been running his business on the road for more than 35 years.

He said: “They’re not really considering what shops are wanted, or whether the high street survives. It’s just going to be a monster that’s going to kill it.”

A Clarion and Hadley spokeswoman said: “It has always been our intention to invigorate and complement Penge’s much-loved high street with a range of new uses and the re-provision of local favourites, such as Iceland.”

The scheme was also criticised by councillors for its fire safety provisions. Council documents said the Health and Safety Executive was content with the fire safety design, but the London Fire Brigade (LFB) cited concerns on four of the five blocks only being served by one staircase.

The LFB representation stated that the National Fire Chiefs Council felt buildings of at least seven storeys should include more than one staircase, with three of the blocks in the scheme rising above this height.

Labour councillor Josh King said at the meeting: “I don’t find this suggested development to be suitable for the site. There are no remotely similar tall buildings in the area. It’s out of character in its current form.”

Mr Portlock said that the developer would be happy to look into redesigning portions of the building to improve fire evacuation protocols if necessary.

The development control committee agreed to approve the planning application for the site in a seven to six vote. Conditions included the developer not being able to further extend the height of the building without further planning permission and to ensure LFB requirements are adequately met.

Pictured top: A CGI of the planned development on the site of the Blenheim Centre (Picture: FCB Studios/Hadley/Clarion)

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