Opposition to Churchill Quarter development

Opposition to the Churchill Quarter development is growing. Buildings will tower over the High Street and Library Gardens, casting a shadow over the latter and altering its peaceful character. We are pleased to be working with Bromley Civic Society, and others in campaigning against this proposed development.

See the before and after photos below to gain an impression of its impact – and how you can make your opinion known.

Following our leafletting campaign in September, it is clear that there is a groundswell of opposition to this development.  Many people have written to us expressing their horror at this proposal. 

Comments include:
 

●      “That LBB are considering such a proposal is appalling and horrifying in the face of the past 4 years of HUGE opposition from the public, Historic England, residents’ groups, associations, councillors, etc.This vast, ugly and overwhelming development will brutalise the character of our beautiful and historic Town Centre.”

●      “Has infrastructure been considered?

1…Oversubscribed doctors’ surgeries,
2…Oversubscribed schools.
3…Car parking
4…What effect of these vast buildings is it estimated to have on our Victorian sewerage and water systems?
5…Untold detrimental effect on wildlife.”

●      “I will be able to see this from our house in Shortlands and it is worrying that it is being proposed again.”

●      “This proposal directly flies in the face of the policy against ‘tall buildings’ which is supposed to inform planning in the town centre and be adhered to. The need is for lower rise development.”

●      “I would strongly oppose any tower blocks being built as they are unsightly, why not construct buildings no taller than existing ones? Bromley High Street has retained its charm & the park offers peace & tranquillity without having any intrusive tower blocks overlooking it.” 

●      “Whilst [I] am in favour of modernisation and development done appropriately, I am afraid to say that the proposals fall far short of this.  The significant reduction to the green spaces and creation of excessively tall buildings is something I cannot support.  If this goes ahead it will only mean a worse quality of life for Bromley residents and a degradation of the existing area.”

●      “The plans destroy the current entrance to Library Gardens.”

●      “… entirely out of keeping with the historical character of this market town and its surroundings.”

●      “All the features that single Bromley out as the fine and lovely market town that it is … would be permanently spoiled by the construction of monolithic tower blocks. The impact on and damage to the environment, the wildlife and the Conservation Area would be irreparable.”

●      “There are neither the amenities nor the infrastructure to support a high-density population that would result from these tower blocks.”

●      “How much would this development really contribute to affordable housing and meeting the housing need?”

●      “The whole design of the development would take away the character of Bromley and Bromley would not be Bromley anymore.”


What can you do?

In advance of the opportunity to make formal objections to the planning application, you can voice your opposition by lodging your comments with Countryside Properties at: 

https://churchillquarterbromley.co.uk/contact-us/

or by email at: 

info@churchillquarterbromley.co.uk

or by telephone: 020 3929 0523

You can also raise your objections with your Ward Councillors so they understand the strength of feeling coming from the community. 

Find their email addresses here: https://bit.ly/WardCllrs

and to Bromley Council’s Leader, Cllr. Colin Smith: Colin.Smith@bromley.gov.uk

Cllr. Colin Smith
c/o Members Room
Bromley Civic Centre
Stockwell Close
Bromley
BR1 3UH

to the Assistant Director (Planning):    Tim.Horsman@bromley.gov.uk

If you do not live in Bromley, write to the Council Leader, Colin Smith, as above.

We would also appreciate it if you would kindly copy any comments you make to:  cqcampaign@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

DO PLEASE JOIN US IN OBJECTING TO THIS DEVELOPMENT AND FIGHTING TO PRESERVE OUR UNIQUE HISTORIC TOWN

You can find out more about Library Gardens, its formation and our ongoing campaign to protect it HERE.

Y Buildings application resubmitted

The developer resubmitted their planning application (Ref: DC/21/03120/RESPA) on 12th July for the change of use of these buildings, in the grounds of Bromley Civic Centre, to enable them to form 73 very small residential units. This application was previously rejected by Bromley council planning committee as they considered it part of the curtilage of the Bromley Palace. Despite this the developer has re-submitted their application in which they argue against this. To see this application CLICK HERE. If you have any comments on this you should submit them by the end of July.

We continue to object to this application, as it will impact the adjacent on the following grounds –

  • It is an over-development of these buildings, each residential unit being far too small for housing needs.
  • It will seriously impact the public access to the park via the Rafford Way access.

To find out more about Bromley Palace Park and our associated campaigns please CLICK HERE

Memorials

Parks are often places where we each can experience personal memories, both fleeting and life changing. Occasionally we also come across instances where people wish to mark life events important to them, from the unusual such as this ‘pagan’ celebration of spring found some years ago in Bromley Palace Park…..

Straw ‘Beltane’ cross, Bromley Palace Park, February 2017

…or the celebration of a life sadly lost, as in the following found very recently in Church House Gardens. In this latter case it sought to inform us all of life changing issues and how to help overcome them. A very positive message.

Memorial to Polly, Church House Gardens

Of course not all such ‘memorials’ have to be temporary. In several of our town centre parks permanent memorials can be found. From a tree planted in celebration of a town twinning (Bromley Palace Park), or an anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II (Queen’s Garden), or indeed the opening of the park itself in 1900 (Queen’s Garden).

Plaque celebrating ‘The Queen’s Garden’ opening in 1900

Alternatively on a more personal level, a tree or memorial bench for a much-loved family member. The latter can be found in a number of our parks often linked to that person. Unfortunately this can sometimes create a bit of a problem, with some favoured spaces becoming potentially overwhelmed with them. So in each case we and the parks administration endeavour to work sympathetically, with the family requesting such a memorial. These benches can be expensive to both install and maintain, so much care is taken on the most appropriate type of bench and its sighting, and so to best satisfy everybody’s needs.

Memorial bench, Martins Hill

So as you take a rest in our parks, please have of look, and if appropriate, why not give a thought about the person whose life is celebrated by the bench you are sitting on.

Spring is busting out!

With the daylight hours gradually getting longer and weather a bit better our thoughts turn to spring; with its flowers, birds, insects, etc. emerging to cheer us up. However this blog isabout another sort of spring! I am referring to those occasional rivulets of water that emerge, seemingly from nowhere, out of the ground. This phenomenon often occurs at a ‘spring line’, that is a layer where an overlying porous soil meets a more impervious layer below. If this occurs on a slope, at this point the water emerges as a spring line. Such an emergence is more likely to happen if there has previously been a period of heavy rainfall, thereby topping up the amount of water temporarily stored underground in the aquifer.

Due to its geological nature, with a sandy and stony soil (i.e. Blackheath Beds) underlying much of the town centre, there are several such springs in central Bromley. Indeed there is one in Bromley Palace Park, which is called St.Blaise’s Well. There are also some springs on the lower slopes of Martins Hill. Here water encounters a layer of clay and emerges, then running along on the surface until it ten gradually seeps away into the surrounding soil. In the areas more rural past these springs often fed small ponds where animals could then drink from. The lake in Church House Gardens, were originally a number of fish ponds, fed by a spring. This caused some significant problems when the foundations of the Churchill Theatre were excavated.

Springs, Martins Hill, February 2021 by Tony Banfield

Each year several of our Friends group has conducted a tour around our local springs, entitled “The Secret Springs of Bromley Town” (see below). This has been popular with the public, but last year sadly this had to be curtailed due to the coronavirus restrictions. It seems that such a public walk will not be possible in 2021. However in the meantime you can still investigate individually – but wear suitable shoes it can be muddy – enjoy!

Poster for an earlier event in 2017

Bromley parks consultation

Daffodils on Martins Hill

In the past few weeks Bromley council have been consulting on their draft Open Spaces Strategy. The closing date for submissions was 7th January 2021. We as well as other Friends groups, other groups and members of the public from across the borough, totalling about 800, are understood to have responded to this draft document. We felt that the document was poorly laid out and very difficult to read, and that the associated online survey was severely limited in its options. So therefore instead we sent them a detailed submission.

The main points of our response included –

  • We welcomed the recognition of important role of Friends and other local community groups.
  • The true financial value to our health and well being (aka ‘Natural Capital’) of our green spaces is not to be quantified, as against asset value by “repurposing” (e.g. sale for commercial development).
  • Concerned that main aim of this document appeared to be to justify the exploitation of our green spaces as assets; for either inappropriate income generation, either by ‘repurposing’ for commercial purposes, or even disposal for building developments. 
  • Our strong opposition to any suggestion of installing turbines or solar cells on Martins Hill, a recognised site of biodiversity.
  • No realistic measurements of success seem to be provided in this document.

To read our full submission PLEASE USE THIS LINK

Councillor Huntington-Thresher, Executive Councillor for the Environment, has released a statement stating that they “……were not about to sell any park and that we adore our green spaces and environment.” However our previous experience is that the council has been only too willing to sell off parts of public parks for commercial development; e.g. parts of Queens Gardens, part of Bromley Palace Park.

The council have advised that they have received some 800 submissions and that  “The final analysis alongside an updated Open Space Strategy will be discussed at a future meeting of the Environment PDS Committee before the long-term strategy is adopted.” Our Friends group shall be following this ongoing process very actively.

Green Flag award

People enjoying Queens Gardens in happier times

For a third year running Queens Gardens has been awarded a prestigious Green Flag award. This reflects the continuing very high standard of this much valued public park, achieved as a result of the maintenance of this space by the parks contractor idVerde. This has been achieved despite the furloughing of many staff members during the height of the coronavirus lockdown. Seven other public green spaces across the borough also gained awards.

Queens Gardens is an important public green space located between The Glades shopping centre and Kentish Way. It therefore provides a welcome restful oasis from the much busier places adjacent. This is especially true in the current pandemic. You can find out more about this park HERE

The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

greenflagaward.org.uk/about-us/

Queens Garden looking great

This flower bed in Queens Garden, previously the “Darwin Bed”, is looking very good at the moment. It includes various plants, including several attractive grasses, from around the world. This was replanted, by idVerde staff, a couple of years ago to replace the earlier flower scheme which had been part of Bromley council’s iff-fated application for World Heritage status for the Downe area associated with Charles Darwin.

With the other flower beds in the garden currently still awaiting the summer bedding to be planted, this is the main flower display in this park. We hope soon see their contributions to the beauty of this well loved space.

Perhaps with the gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions it will not be too long before the customers of Cafe Giardino will be able to gaze down upon this attractive scene. However in the meantime we can all enjoy this, and the rest of this garden’s attractions, from ground level.

Feeding the Birds

Kari feeding the birds, Church House Gardens

Every morning, soon as the gates are opened, our committee member Kari visits Church House Gardens to feed the birds. She always gives them suitable healthy food such as grain and other seeds, rather than unhealthy bits of bread that many people unfortunately do. She has become very well known to these inhabitants, both large and small. In these difficult times it is great that people are still thinking about our non-human “park users”.

Carrying On

In these difficult times, where most of us are correctly staying at home for most of the day, there are many people continuing to work to keep #Bromley Town Centre going. Among these are the #idVerde staff still busy maintaining our parks, so that we can enjoy them while on our daily exercise walk, as well as in the future when we are able to move around freely again.

Bob with his ride-on mower

Several of the maintenance team were present in Queens Garden yesterday. They were either weeding the formal flower beds, for which this park is well known, or mowing the grass as it starts to regrow again.

Neil clearing up litter

Elsewhere, despite possibly lower density of people visiting parks, the litter bins need clearing and other rubbish picked up regularly so that they still look at their best.

So if you spot any of the parks maintenance team on your walks in our local parks, please give them a small word of thanks for their efforts. I know that they will appreciate it.

Town Centre Parks are looking beautiful

Early on a wonderful Sunday morning I decided it would be great to visit some of our town centre parks, in order to raise my spirits. I first visited College Green our newest park, just up the road from Sainsbury and behind Bromley College a Grade 1 listed building. This small park is maintained by volunteers of Bromley Green Gym. The daffodils of various sizes were looking magnificent.

Daffodils on College Green

And the fruit trees were just coming into bloom, hopefully promising a good harvest later in the year.

Fruit tree in blossom

In the circular Mulberry Bed I came across a Rosemary in full flower. This herb has been celebrated, for many centuries in folklore, with remembrance. In Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’; Orphelia states “ “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.” It is also good for cooking as well!

Rosemary in flower

Then a short walk to our next park, Queens Garden. Once upon a time this was White Hart Field, associated with the inn of the same name, where stage-coach horses would then rest and graze. Later a cricket field, frequented by H.G.Wells’ father, it is now a much appreciated park right next to The Glades shopping centre.

Queens Garden, from Kentish Way entrance

This was a chance, with very little traffic noise from the nearby dual carriageway, to hear the robins, blackbirds, etc announcing themselves. The formal flower beds, for which this park is especially appreciated by visitors, were looking excellent. In the former Darwin flower bed, which was replanted last year, I spotted this small tree in flower.

Tree located in former Darwin flowerbed

A short walk through the still closed shopping centre and deserted High Street brought me to Library Gardens, with scaffolding still around the Churchill Theatre, and into Church House Gardens. Where I spotted this lovely Camelia next to the lake.

Camellia in flower

The nearby ducks and geese were going along with their lives, perhaps waiting for people to feed them, and up to the upper gardens. There I came upon the gazebo with the magnolia close by.

Then across to Martins Hill, and yet more daffodils planted previously by Friends’ volunteers to celebrate the Marie Curie charity whose emblem this plant is.

‘Field of Hope’, Martins Hill

A quick walk along the top of the park, with many lovely bare trees resplendent in the morning light and fine views across the valley towards Beckenham and beyond.

Bare trees, Martins Hill

And so home to a well earned hot drink. Our parks while always important for our physical and mental wellbeing are especially critical in these worrying times. So please visit your park, but remember to adopt ‘social distancing’ and respect the health of other park users you come across.