Disappointly, despite almost 200 objections from local residents, Bromley Council has recommended for approval a planning application involving the demolition of a large Victorian house on Bromley Road, and redevelopment to private flats.
The final decision will be made by councillors at a planning committee meeting at 7pm on Thursday 20th January 2022.
Situated on the corner of Downsbridge Road, at a prominent location near the brow of the hill between Beckenham and Shortlands, Coleridge House at 79 and 79a Bromley Road is a distinctive building from the late-Victorian era and one of the last remaining grand villa houses that once lined Bromley Road.
The three-storey building is run by Riverside Housing Association (which also runs Calverley Close on Southend Road) and currently accommodates 12 self-contained social housing flats for the elderly and an adjoining, four-bedroom single family house (79a). The £12M development involves the demolition of the entire building, replacing it with a five-storey block of 27 flats much bigger than the existing building, and an underground car park. The proposed scheme comprises 5 No. one-bedroom, 17 No. two-bedroom and 5 No. 3-bedroom flats, providing space for up to 95 occupants.
The Victorian Society has said, “Victorian villas such as this may be considered fairly common nationally, but within the local context, it is a rare survival. The house has both architectural and historical interest as a building representative of the growth of the area in the late 19th century, and as such, should be considered a local landmark and a non-designated heritage asset and its loss would harm the significance of the building and the contribution it makes to the local area.” It goes on to say,“The two buildings in combination retain a vestige of the formerly leafy character of the area, and the loss of one would erode this character. If permitted, this could set a precedent for the piecemeal demolition of similar surviving larger 19th/20th century houses in the area.”
Bromley Council has committed to be carbon neutral by 2029 and, considering the UK’s national carbon reduction targets, we believe that retaining, refurbishing or converting existing buildings should always be preferable over demolition.
It is also very disappointing to see in their Affordable Housing Viability Statement that the developer, like many others involved in residential schemes in Beckenham in recent years, doesn’t include any affordable housing provision. According to planning application documents, the smallest one-bedroom flat in the £12M development is expected to market for £325,000. The developer’s claim that they can’t afford to provide affordable housing in the scheme, is unacceptable in our view.
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