SUTHERLAND HOUSE “A BLOT ON THE LANDSCAPE”

 

Sutherland House,  at the heart of Sutton South, is a “blot on the landscape” said Councillor Heather Honour addressing the Development Control Committee on Wednesday 2nd March, a view repeated by Councillor Clifton when he spoke to the Committee on 8 June.

There is now a section 106 agreement in place, which we have helped to draw up, so that any developer will be required to make a contribution to the welfare of the local population.  The Development Control Committee considered, on 8 June, minor changes to the conditions attached to the development proposal. We still have no timetable for the development.

Key points we have made are that residents continue to raise concern about the state of Sutherland House and its continuing deterioration now that it is unoccupied.  In addition to the large number of windows that are boarded up, the retail premises, previously occupied by an estate agent, are now also boarded up, adding to the general dilapidation of the area. This presents anyone entering Sutton from the South with an unpleasant and off putting view .

Some residents remain concerned about the proposals that have been agreed.  However, in the interests of the area as a whole, we need development to go forward, to improve the appearance of the building and as an occupied building will mean that the office workers and residents are spending money in local shops and restaurants, making the economy of South Sutton more vibrant. But we must register concern at the current state of the building and have sought to require the owners to improve the external view, e.g. more attractive boards surrounding the building.

In speaking to the Committee on 2 March Heather reminded the Committee of the concerns raised by residents of Grosvenor Court and Forest Dene. Heather said that the current state of the building was a disgrace. Windows were smashed and boarded up.  The doorways were refuges for drinkers and smokers and full of litter.  The space below the iron railings on Cedar Road was a rubbish tip and a health hazard containing unsightly and unhealthy waste from fast food outlets.   And the building had been host to a cannabis factory, or even a plantation given the huge amount of the weed grown there.

Although unable to revisit the details of the planning application, Councillor Honour  pointed out that the car parking, consisting of 62 bays was inadequete for the proposed 96 flats and 70 bedroomed hotel.  There were already serious parking issues at nearby Sutton Court and this would only exacerbate the situation. 

Road safety was already an issue at the junction of Cedar Road and Brighton Road and many of the residents  at Forest Dene feared to cross the road there.  The proposed entry to the lower cark park would worsen the situation and Councillor Honour advocated using Wellesley Road for the entry to the car park.

She also drew attention to the fact that the original planning application had said that the hotel would be commissioned from Hilton Hotels on behalf of the Hampton brand.  The latest information was that  the hotel was likely to be either the  Premier Inn or Travelodge chain.  Would their branding conflict with the approved design of the hotel?

Highlighting the fact that most of Sutton South was now a mixture of private flats and social housing and that there was insufficient open space in the area, she said that 50 per cent of children did not have access to a garden and she asked that under the new Community Infrastructure Levy the developer be asked to improve the Devonshire Nature Area and contribute to more open space for the surrounding community.

Our latest information is that the development is not likely to follow the current planning permission but will be a much more limited development, reflecting the current economic circumstamces.

GROSVENOR COURT RESIDENTS LOSE PIZZA DELIVERY BATTLE

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[Grosvenor Court, the Mansion flats above Regent Parade]

 

 

Dominos Pizzas have, on appeal, overturned a decision by Sutton Council to reject an application to open an outlet in Regent Parade, on the Brighton Road near Sutton station, in Sutton South ward.

 

Councillor Clifton said:

“I very much regret that this democratic decision, locally taken by Sutton Councillors, has been overturned by Inspectors remote from Sutton. I will ask the residents of Grosvenor Court to let me know if the motorbikes used by the pizza house wind up being parked on the pavement outside, something I fear. The Inspector has imposed some conditions on the use of the pizza house, which is helpful to a degree, and I hope that our representations were instrumental in getting these imposed, though they will not fully meet the concerns of the residents.”

 

The Inspector imposed conditions relating to the extraction system, hours of opening, noise emissions and sound reduction measures, as well as requiring that the extract duct be painted black to protect the outlook of nearby residents.

 

Councillor Clifton had called for the rejection of the application, responding to objections raised with Sutton South LibDem Councillors by a number of residents. He twice spoke against it at meetings of the Development Control Committee.

 

Councillor Clifton argued that the application had a number of defects, citing:

 

– the adverse effect on the amenities of residents in the large block of mansion flats above the shop by virtue of increased noise, fumes, traffic and parking problems contrary to policies TSC5 and TSC7, in particular due to the the continuous arrival and departure of motor bikes during the hours of operation in what is an area of concentrated residential occupation

– the lack of available parking close to the restaurant for six motorcycles during hours of operation, with the likelihood that they will be parked on and block the pavement

– the cumulative effect of a third vent pipe on the Grosvenor Court building on the appearance of this building

– the inadequacy of arrangements for dealing with waste.

Councillor Clifton spoke against the proposals at meetings of the Sutton Council Development Control Committee, as a Ward Councillor, on 11 August and 3 November 2010.

 

 

 

 

COUNCILLOR CLIFTON GETS LISTED BUILDING STATUS FOR PAVILION IN OUR AREA OF SPECIAL LOCAL CHARACTER

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Councillor Clifton nominated the Edwardian tennis pavilion that sits on the triangle of land where The Ridgway joins Mayfield Road in our Ward for inclusion on the Sutton Local List. At the Sutton Council meeting on 9 May 2011 the pavilion was included in the list of buildings to be added to the Sutton Local List.

This is the only building in Sutton South Ward to be included on the Local List, though the Registry Office in Worcester Road is on the national list of Listed Buildings.

The building is the only one of the buildings put forward as additions during the consultation process to make it to the final list.  This was attributed to the fact that Councillor Clifton had put forward a carefully researched case, including adequate evidence.

The Sutton Local List is a list of buildings thought to be of importance to the comunity, though not of sufficient merit to be “Listed Buildings” for inclusion on the national list. The list thus includes local buildings of significance to the local community. Sutton Council has been consulting on additions to the Local List and, at a presentation to the Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee on 27 January, it became evident that not one single building in Sutton South Ward was under consideration for inclusion on the local list. This led to Councillor Clifton proposing inclusion of the pavilion.

The inclusion of the pavilion on the list may be helpful in the preservation of the character of this area as an Area of Special Local Character (ASLC), and thus resisting any inappropriate development in the area, such as demolition of houses and erection of blocks of flats, which has been the trend in adjacent areas. At a Planning Appeal attended by Councillor Clifton last year he had to explain to the Inspector the importance of local people of the ASLC and why it should be taken into account in the planning decision.

Councillor Clifton said:

“I am delighted with this outcome. One of our key objectives, as local Councillors, is to preserve the character of the Area of Special Local Character at the east end of Sutton South Ward. We must resist the trend to knock down houses and build small blocks of flats, which has led to a shortage of family homes in many parts of Sutton South Ward, and half the children living in accommodatin with no access to a garden. This recognition of the importance of buildings such as the Edwardian tennis club to the special character of the area may be helpful to us in pursuing that objective.”

In proposing the pavilion, Councillor Clifton wrote: 

“It is an Edwardian tennis pavilion, built in 1908 by the local architect Percy Vere Windebank, on the triangle of land at the junction of Mayfield Road and The Ridgway, in South Sutton Ward. It is a relatively unaltered example of a small, Edwardian tennis club pavilion, though the windows have been altered in an unsympathetic manner.

The history of the building is interesting. Up to 1906 this area was lavender fields. Between 1906 and 1914 Windebank laid out the Highfields Estate, building what is now The Ridgway, Mayfield Road , Chalgrove Road and Hillcroome Road . The concept was an estate of large, expensive houses with large gardens, grouped around or close to a triangle of land on which there would be a lawn tennis and croquet club, for the benefit of the residents. In 2008 the Highfields Residents’ Association published a history of the estate, “Highfields 100”, to mark the centenary. A copy of this history, to which Councillor Clifton is listed as a contributor, is obtainable from Mr Keith Percy at 63 The Ridgway, SM2 5JX. The houses are of some architectural merit, as indicated in the history.

We believe the pavilion was built by 1908, as the Highfield Lawns tennis club was in existence by that year. On 22 August 1908 an advertisement for the first of the newly-built houses on the estate was published in the Surrey County Herald newspapers, and mentioned the private tennis club on the estate. Highfield Lawns Ltd. was established as a company by 1913 with the sole objective of owning the land in order to allow the tennis and croquet club to operate. Those who bought one of Windebank’s houses could buy shares in Highfield Lawns. The Articles of Association of the company provide, to this day, that if you own a share in the company you can only vote on its affairs if you also own property in the Highfields Estate.

Over the years the large gardens have been sold off for infill housing, mostly of a good quality. The area is designated an Area of Special Local Character (ASLC) and the Edwardian tennis pavilion is central to the character of the area. Were it to be proposed to demolish and re-build the pavilion any replacement would need to be a building of a similar character (not a modern building or a concrete slab) due to the ASLC designation. If the Local List is a list of buildings of some local significance, the pavilion should be on the list. This is based on criteria 3, a building of significant local interest.”

 

Councillors Clifton and Honour would welcome information on any famous people who have lived in Sutton South Ward, for consideration as to whether there should be a plaque erected on the property where they lived.

 

This is a picture of the clubhouse taken from the triangle in The Ridgway. A photograph taken in 1913 shows an almost identical scene.

 

UGLY COMPUTER BOXES – IS THERE ONE NEAR YOU ?

Residents have contacted us about the ugly computer boxes erected in our Ward, such as the one shown below. While there are many of these green computer boxes on our street corners, a new generation of much larger and more obtrusive boxes is now being installed.

A post elsewhere on this site deals with a specific problem of the box in Cedar Road.

We need these boxes to improve broadband speeds. But Openreach (a subsidiary of BT), who install them, do not need planning permission or to take any notice of the aesthetic and amenity aspects of the erection of the boxes. This is by Act of Parliament and the local Council is helpless.

We are collecting information. Is there a box near you ? Is it sensibly sited ? Let us know.

This box, in Cedar Road, is badly sited, right outside someone’s front window. A post elsewhere on this site deals with this particular problem.

You can see how this is right in front of the house.

This one in Cornwall Road (not in our Ward) has been placed in front of the house and right in the attractive hedgerow lovingly cultivated by the residents. It could as easily have been a few feet away round the corner and giving no offence.

Research by Councillor Clifton has shown that these are not isolated incidents and across London there is increasing concern at the lack of consultation and the poor decisions involved in siting these boxes. Further afield, there are examples of local campaigns in places as far apart as Brighton (see the Brighton Argus, 26 May) and Dundee (the Dundee Courier, April 14).

Openreach have “Permitted Development Rights” and, according to the Council’s Planning Department, “Permitted Development Rights” exist provided that the ground or base area does not exceed 1.5 square metres (with only a height restriction of being no more than 15 metres off the ground – if unattached to a building). This is set out under the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 and Part 24 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(Amendment)(England) Order 2001. The only check by the Council is that there is no impediment such as buried cables and, if not, the Council has no power to stop the development.

Councillor Clifton said “Parliament, in granting these powers to bypass planning law, would have expected the company to behave responsibly in considering the impact on local residents.”

Openreach have disclosed to Councillor Clifton the full list of criteria used when siting boxes. This is printed below.

Councillor Clifton has told them that the criteria are defective in that nothing is said about not erecting boxes immediately outside a resident’s front door or window, and nothing is said about aesthetic considerations or fitting in to the streetscene and local ambience.

The criteria are:

“General Considerations

The following points serve as planning considerations when selecting a suitable location for the DSLAM cabinet.

  • The ideal position of the DSLAM cabinet is within 2m of Copper cabinet. Please ensure that there is 1m clearance either side of the DSLAM.
  • The maximum cable length from DSLAM cabinet to PCP is normally 50m (needed to maintain PCP CAL value).
  • The position of, and access to the DSLAM cabinet must accommodate installation by crane from a truck. It must also be feasible to make maintenance visits for an engineer (e.g. to check batteries), or change cards.
  • Situate in a safe and non-obstructive manner for the public, engineers and contractors.
  • Avoid kerbside locations if possible – reducing a traffic hazard.
  • Avoid places where restrictive waiting or working restrictions may apply.
  • Avoid causing obstruction or restricting road and pavement users’ line of sight.
  • Avoid locating where the cabinet can be used as an intermediate stepping-stone to someone wishing to climb over a high wall/fence.
  • Consider how to minimise the risk due to other services (e.g. overhead obstructions).
  • Proximity to schools, elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups where a lifting operation would incur additional risk. .
  • Consider obstruction to maintenance of gardens and buildings, such as hedge cutting, fence preserving, etc. Please allow 100mm from cabinet to wall.
  • Safe dig prints and the use of Locator 9B can be used to avoid positioning of the cabinet above other services.
  • Health and Safety Guide (47) is a useful document
  • Where proposed DSLAM cabinets are located in flood plain areas, try to mitigate the risk of flooding where possible. The level of risk can be found on the Environment Agency website. Local, County councils and other utilities can be a useful source of info.
  • You need to take account of noise emissions and allow for this in quiet residential premises (aim for greater distances from bedrooms). Avoid locations where noise could reverberate or be directed towards premises (such as alleyways). Discuss individual cases if this cannot be achieved with the policy team. “

ACTION BY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COUNCILLORS TO GET NEW TREES PLANTED IN COPSE HILL

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[ Councillor Clifton examines the tree planted outside 22 Copse Hill ]

When we were first elected in May 2010, one of our first pieces of casework concerned residents in Copse Hill who pointed out to us that two street trees – outside numbers 6 and 22 – had been lost as a result of road traffic accidents. In each case a car had collided with the tree and this had led to the tree being lost. One could see the ugly patch of brown earth left in the grass verge, where the tree had once been. Further investigation revealed that there had been a similar incident in Effingham Close leading to the loss of a tree.

Councillor Clifton persuaded Sutton’s chief arborculturalist, Ben Morris, to visit Copse Hill with him. It has taken a little while but in January new trees were planted to replace those lost in Copse Hill, in the exact same places as the trees that were lost, while two new trees have been planted outside 18 and 34 Efingham Close.

Councillor Clifton has appealed to residents of the roads to ensure the young trees are watered in dry weather.

While assisting residents in Copse Hill, our attention was drawn to the potential problem of the flooding of the road in periods of very heavy rain, as the water flows down Effingham Close to the bottom of the hill. After discussion with engineers in the Highways Department, action was taken to install a new drain gully at the foot of the hill. We hope this has resolved the problem of the flow of water down the hill. There remains a more minor problem with the puddles outside numbers 2 to 10 Copse Hill. Gerry McLaughlin of the Highways Department is shown here marking out changes to the gulleys. There will be a programme of cleaning out the soakaways over the summer and it is hoped that this problem is resolved.

Councillor Clifton visits Copse Hill for a discussion with Gerry McLaughlin.

MORE PLAY FACILITIES FOR SUTTON SOUTH CHILDREN

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[ The entrance to the nature reserve in Devonshire Avenue, the only area of open space in Sutton South Ward ]

Liberal Democrat and Conservative Councillors in Sutton South united, on the evening of 27 January, to improve facilities for local children in the Ward.

Members of the South Sutton, Belmont and Cheam Local Committee agreed to the installation of a small, environmentally-friendly climbing frame for small children in the nature reserve in Devonshire Avenue.

Firty per-cent of children attending Devonshire Avenue primary school, next to the reserve, live in accommodation where they have no access to a garden for play. This piece of equipment will add to the fun of the local area, without, in the opinion of local Councillors, being of a size or on a scale that will have an unacceptable environmental impact on the nature reserve. The Headmaster of the school has indicated his support for this project.

Councillors have agreed to work with local environmentalists to encourage the proliferation of the small blue butterfly, sometimes found on the site.

“This is a good start to improving play facilities for children in Sutton South Ward” said Councillor Honour. “We really do need to take seriously the lack of open spaces in our Ward.”

Councillor Clifton added “Another good outcome from this discussion of the nature reserve is that both Councillor Honour and I will be examining whether there are ways of drawing on the enthusiasm of local gardeners to seek to improve the natural habitat of the small blue butterfly, which is sometimes found at the reserve.”

ACTION BY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COUNCILLORS LEADS TO EXTENSION OF “NO DRINKING” ZONE TO OUR WARD

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[ The corner of Cedar Road and Brighton Road, where drinkers sometimes congregate. This picture shows Sutherland House – it is hoped that the seat outside Sutherland House can be restored if the problems associated with public drinking in this area can be dealt with ]

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Sutton Council has extended what is popularly called the “No Drinking” zone to our Ward.

Even before we were elected, we were aware of the concerns of local residents and the problems of anti-social behaviour associated with a group of what are sometimes called “all day drinkers”. These people often congregated at the Brighton Road / Cedar Road intersection. 

Following a number of discussions that we, as Ward Councillors, had with the Council Executive member responsible for public order matters, Councillor Graham Tope, the Council has taken steps in a policy direction that we have advocated, to deal with the problem.

At present, the town centre in Sutton is a “Designated Public Place” – popularly called a “No Drinking” zone.  An effect is that the group of people who drink on the street for much of the day congregated just outside the zone, in particular at the street corner at the end of Cedar Road where it meets the Brighton Road. This is close to Forest Dene Court, a large block of flats for elderly people, some of whom have expressed to us their concern about this group of drinkers. Now, the Council has extended the zone to cover an area of Sutton South Ward.

The area covered is a square bordered by Cedar Road, Langley Park Road, Egmont Road and the Brighton Road. The police were able to provide evidence of anti-social behaviour associated with drinking to justify including this area in the zone. Now the zone is extended to this area, the police will monitor the effect. If the problem is simply displaced to a different area, consideration can be given to a further extension.  

The legal effect of the Designated Public Places Order is that if someone is drinking alcohol in public in this area the police can ask them to stop. If they do not stop, they are guilty of an offence.

The designation of the Sutton South zone was subject to public consultation. Statutory notices were placed in newspapers and on relevant websites on 11 January. Representations could be made during the consultation period, which ended on 7 February. A second statutory notice was published. The order came into force on 15 March 2011.

As your local Councillors, we are delighted with these developments, which we have pressed for, with the Council. We have had the support of the local police and the Sutton South police consultative committee (whose activities are reported elsewhere on this website, on the page on police matters). As a result of this development the police will be able to spend less time dealing with the anti-social behaviour associated with public drinking and spend more time on their two other priorities for our Ward, car crime and drug dealing.

When the results of the new measures are clear, we hope it will then be possible to restore the seat outside Sutherland House, which was removed as it became associated with public order problems caused by this group of people.

THE SNOW, THE GRIT – AND THE POTHOLES

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Periods of cold weather and snow inevitably bring a rash of potholes in the roads throughout the Ward.

If there is a pothole in your road, please contact us at the addresses given on this website and we will follow up with the Council to get it in the queue to be fixed. Use the “Report a Problem” button on the website or email us at the address given on the banner at the top of the website. 

During the period of cold weather and snowfall, we were contacted by many people in the Ward seeking assistance.

We were contacted by a resident in Rutherford Close who commented on the icy state of the pavements in Rutherford Close and in Cumnor Road, as they had to walk the length of Cumnor Road to get a bus in Langley Park Road. We contacted the gritting team who left a pile of grit at each end of Cumnor Road. We went round to Cumnor Road and ourselves distributed grit along the pavements, including gritting the road at the Cumnor Road / Rutherford Close intersection, a part of Wellesley Road and most of Rutherford Close. We were assisted by Courtney and Curtis Sampson of Cumnor Road, to whom we extend thanks.

The Council does not have the resources to clear or grit all the pavements in the Borough. After each fall of snow priority is given to pavements outside hospitals, GP surgeries and schools, and care homes. Responding to requests we made, the pavement outside Fiske Court (a large care home in Cavendish Road) was partly cleared, and Councillor Clifton himself cleared a further stretch of the pavement, in response to a request from a resident. It is worth noting that, if there is more snow before the winter ends, if people clear a path outside their own house it will dry off during the periods of thaw when the temperature gets above freezing, and this will leave the pavement clear of ice. Which is why we encourage people to do this.

The new grit bins in the Ward have been of value but were rapidly emptied. The gritting teams are continuing to fill them up but they are emptied again almost as soon as they are filled. Which, of course, means they are being used for their intended purpose. Most of the bins in the Ward were re-filled in the period immediately after Christmas.

Residents of Downside Road have commented to us that the new bin, installed at the request of Councilor Clifton, in the middle of the hill, outside number 31, has been of great value and helped them keep the road open during the snow. This supplements the bins at the top and bottom of the hill.

MORE CAR CLUB PARKING BAYS IN SUTTON SOUTH WARD

We are both enthusiastic supporters of the objective to make Sutton a cleaner and greener Borough. Car clubs have a role to play.

Car clubs form an important element in our local sustainable transport policies. The car club “Streetcar” has proven popular in Sutton since it was launched three years ago. It now has more than 800 members in Sutton and wishes to expand further with new bays and cars.

Click on this link to find out more about Streetcar.

We have supported the installation of an additional car club bay in Albion Road, in Sutton South Ward. This would involve a change of use in respect of a bay that is currently for “pay and display” parking, but which is not occupied for that purpose very often as there are enough other bays in the road. It was proposed that, subject to consultation, this bay would be reserved for a car club car that members of the club can use. The proposal is currently “on hold” due to issues concerned with Streetcar, but we hope it will be returned to in due course.

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[ The bay in Albion Road ]