Proposal to use Cranbrook Court in Thesiger Road for temporary homeless accommodation

The former sheltered housing scheme in Thesiger Road

A Planning Application has been submitted for Cranbrook Court, the former sheltered housing scheme in Thesiger Road, to be used for accommodation for homeless people.   There has been a lot of understandable concern expressed by neighbouring residents.

We do understand residents’ concerns but there is also some misinformation that needs to be put into context.   We have been aware for some time that an application was imminent and many residents will have received the letters the developers sent out regarding their proposals.

As Cranbrook Courtwas previously used for accommodation for people requiring care, there is little or no chance of this planning application being refused.   I am sure we are all aware of the increasing need for accommodation for individuals and families who suddenly find themselves homeless.   (See this week’s Bromley Times.)  There should be no no-go areas for helping people who find themselves in this situation.   They could easily be our relatives.

Our approach so far has therefore been to work with the developers to make the scheme as acceptable as we possibly can, before it gets to the stage of final approval.  That way, we can make sure the proposal fits in with the local area, rather than having a scheme foisted on us that we have been unable to influence.

As a result, the developers have agreed to only accept people nominated by Bromley council.   This can be guaranteed by legal agreement.   The only occasions we have had problems in the past is when nominations have come from other boroughs, who take no account of the interests of local residents.  This is not a hostel for down and outs, reforming drug addicts or alcoholics.   These facilities will be for Bromley (in fact, probably mainly Penge) people who may have become unable to meet their rent or mortgage payments (increasingly common at present) or found themselves homeless for any other reason.

The scheme will be managed, again by legal agreement, by a company that has worked extensively with Bromley Council in the past.   That way we can be sure that should any problems arise, your local councillors will be able to raise the issues with local council officers who are answerable to local opinion.   It will be in the interest of the managing agents to sort them out immediately.   To help with this, there will be an on-site manager’s office that local residents can refer to.

So long as our conditions can be met, we may have a way forward here.  If the legal agreements are not forthcoming, or if insurmountable problems become apparent, we will strenuously oppose the application.

We will make sure that local views are listened to.   Any resident can still make representations to the council regarding the proposal.  If you follow the links on the Bromley web site to search planning applications, the reference number is 12/00842.  More details of the application can be found there.   You can also contact us directly with any further issues.    Once the planners have studied the application, it will go to committee for decision and one member of the public will be able to put their view to the committee.

We will update this site with any further information we receive.

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About pengeandcatorcouncillors

This blog is maintained by Cllr Kathy Bance MBE, Cllr Peter Fookes and Cllr Kevin Brooks, the Labour Party councillors for Penge & Cator ward on Bromley Council.
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9 Responses to Proposal to use Cranbrook Court in Thesiger Road for temporary homeless accommodation

  1. Rosemary Cantwell says:

    Dear Penge and Cator Councillors,
    Please may I ask who the developers are?
    And which is the company that will operate the scheme?
    Good luck with accommodating homeless people fallen on hard times.
    Best wishes
    Rosemary Cantwell

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  2. Jane Walkling says:

    Can someone please explain if or how this will effect school places at Alexandra infants school?The catchment area for this excellent school is small enough and i dont think its unreasonable for people living very close to expect their child/children to gain a place.Will any children residing at Cranbrook court,as part of a homeless family,be classed as “looked after children”and become priority over local residents children?I should imagine there are families that have moved specifcly to the area to gain a place at an excellent school with a fantastic reputation.I understand Cranbrook court will be temporary accomodation for these families but an explanation of school placements would be welcome.
    Jane Walkling

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    • Thanks for the question, Jane. Any children at Cranbrook Court are most unlikely to be “Looked After”. Looked after children are generally in foster care and I cannot envisage a situation where already damaged children would be placed with a family that did not have a stable home life. (JG)

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      • Jane Walkling says:

        So,if the children were of appropriate age and were currently going to school somewhere else in the borough they would be expected to stay at that school.Thanks for your answer.
        JanE Walkling.

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  3. Sorry, Jane, but your comment seems to refer to a different question. We were commenting on the likelihood of the development including “Looked After” children, as you asked. Other than that, the admissions criteria of Alexander Infants School will continue to operate mainly on proximity criteria. Parents of individual school-agechildren in this development will have a choice of not disrupting their child’s education while they are in temporary accommodaiton, so leaving them in their existing schools, or seeking a place in a nearby school. It will depend on individual circumstances. Which of the local schools they enter will depend on where there are places. Alexandra Infants is generally fully subscribed.

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  4. Declan says:

    John, as someone who lives yards from this eyesore its good to know it will be used again and your post is reassuring. But all you have to do is Google “homeless, crime levels” to see that we have the right to be somewhat alarmed. I know the Council don’t care but we are desperately worried around here about the impact this will have on house prices.

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  5. Rebecca says:

    I would urge all of you who have commented to send your concerns to Bromley Council directly. You can email your comments to planning@bromley.gov.uk. You will need to provide your name and address. The deadline was offically yesterday but they say they will usually accept comments made up until a decision is reached.

    I am extrememly concerned that the Infants school is going to be flooded with applications because it is such a good school. I attended the school as a child and have been a life long resident on the road but I am concerned that my own children will now lose out on a place.

    There are also many many other concerns, such as the integrity of Tanqueray-Hewitt. Their application is inaccurate; Tanqueray-Hewitt did not consult with local residents prior to making the application as they stated they did in section 7.2 of their application. This appears to be a tactic to reduce the amount of time that the local residents have had to be able to lodge their objections to this application. This has taken away three months that the local residents would have had to prepare their objections.

    Please do not sit back whilst Penge is yet again used as the dumping ground for Bromley.

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    • All residents should certainly send their comments to the council. We have already made sure that the decision will be made by committee which means that one resident will have a chance to air their views to the committee. We do think that there is still some clarification needed.

      The current planning designation would allow the building to be used for “persons with drug and alcohol dependency issues” or a “halfway house for ex offenders, a woman’s refuge, a drug and alcohol recovery unit.” This could be done without further reference to Bromley Council and the units could attract residents from other boroughs. We would have no say.

      The council’s intervention in this process can ensure that, if the application is approved, the property is only used for residents approved by Bromley who are or are about to be made homeless and who have no special care needs. Bromley council will also be able to intervene to ensure the good behaviour of residents.

      As you can imagine, whatever the rights and wrongs of the application, this does give us a tactical challenge. If this were a brand new development, different considerations would come into play. As it is, if the application is approved, we will make sure that watertight legal agreements are in place to secure the reassurances we need.

      I presume you are referring to Alexandra Infants School. There is no planning reason to object on these grounds. We don’t know how many of the residents would have infant school age children. It could be less than if the land was used for small family housing. The admissions criteria of Alexander Infants School will continue to operate mainly on proximity criteria. Parents of individual school-age children in this development will have a choice of not disrupting their child’s education while they are in temporary accommodation, so leaving them in their existing schools, or seeking a place in a nearby school. It will depend on individual circumstances. Which of the local schools they enter will depend on where there are places. Alexandra Infants is generally fully subscribed.

      The developers did consult. We know that because people contacted us as soon as they received the letter. We also know that they sent round a revised letter in response to comments we made on their original letter. We believe they distributed around 70 letters. It could, perhaps should, have been more but they did not have to do it at all. In any case, the letter made no difference at all to the length of time that was open for public comments. That is laid down by law. All comments received by the council, right up to the application going to committee, will be reported to the committee.

      Because of the agreement the applicants have made with the council, should the application be successful, they will play no further part in the project, The management would be handed over to the council’s own managing agents.

      We constantly argue with the council that other areas of the borough could accommodate more hostel accommodation. There is a huge need to be met and we all have to play our part. Penge has traditionally attracted more of this type of accommodation because property prices are cheaper here and schemes are therefore more viable. Penge is changing in a positive way and we will do everything we can to support that change. However, in this respect, homeless accommodation might be better than a high dependency hostel. (Though we do in fact have several of these in the ward already and they are largely unnoticed by neighbours and cause us no trouble at all.) The residents in this accommodation should not be very different to those in the many social housing schemes already in the area. That is where they will move on to when the accommodaiton is available. They could easily be members of our own families who have suddenly fallen on hard times in the current recession. Indeed, given the numbers of homeless families contacting the council, the residents are most likely to already be living in Penge. The difference here is that the council will be in charge rather than a distant Housing Association.

      We hope that is helpful. We will continue to publish comments on the site and try to give as much information as possible up to the committee date.

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