We want to try to address some of the issues that residents have raised with us. Most are covered in our first blog on this subject but there are a couple more.
The distribution of the initial letter by the developers was something they undertook themselves to try to engage local people. There were very few responses. We thought the wording was not as clear as it might be, so asked them to clarify a couple of points. That led to their second letter. There was nothing conspiratorial about it. It was an attempt by the developers to let residents know what was going on. It could, perhaps should, have gone wider but there is no obligation on the developers to carry this out.
Planning permission is being sought for change of use. Currently,Cranbrook Courthas permission for use as a care home. Right now, without any further reference to Bromley, it could be used for people with more extensive care needs, including medical issues such as drug and alcohol addiction or the rehabilitation of offenders. Residents could be recruited from neighbouring boroughs, some of which have been known to house some of their more difficult residents out of borough.
Because Bromley became aware of the proposals at an early stage, the council has been able to negotiate conditions which give the council greater control over the residents. The changes being sought under planning permission will ensure that in future the building can only be used as temporary housing for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The accommodation includes units for families. If the application is successful, the legal agreements regarding nominations and management mean that Bromley will have control over who is offered accommodation and how it is managed. If the application is refused, the current classification of a care home able to take nominations from a wider area will continue.
We agree with those who say that the Bromley planning application notification should have been more widely distributed. We have argued this point previously with the council. This is another council cost saving measure. Do not be put off by closing dates for comments. All comments that are received before the report for committee is written will be considered by the planners and updates are given at planning committee meetings. We have already ensured that the application will be decided by a Bromley Planning Committee on a free vote. One resident will have the opportunity to address the committee.
As far as we know, the only work that has been carried out to the building so far, has been to make it secure. No-one wants squatters taking over. However, internal changes are not subject to the planning permission.
Clearly, any young children housed in the project will need appropriate schooling. Any already in school may decide to continue with their current placement. Others may seek places in local schools that have spare capacity. Those reaching school age will have to apply along with other local residents. This would have applied whatever accommodation (it could have been a dozen family houses) is on the site.
“Property prices” cannot be raised as a planning issue. However, there are hostels of varying kinds all over Penge. Most are not noticed by the neighbours and have never caused any problems.
We hope that covers all the issues we have received so far but do continue to contact us with any further concerns. It is important that these concerns are kept in perspective.