There are two proposals for tower blocks in Brighton Road, almost opposite each other, submitted by developers, that Trish and Richard are fighting. One is on the eastern side of the road close to Cavendish Road. This proposal for a five storey block with 36 flats but only four parking spaces has been rejected by Sutton Council planning officers on a number of grounds including design. Richard said of both proposals:
“While we need more accommodation these blocks, with little adjacent green space, are of poor design and would be blots on the landscape.”
The other proposal is almost opposite at the junction with Copse Hill. Developers have twice submitted proposals for this new tower block at the corner of Copse Hill, to be built after demolishing 2 and 4 Copse Hill, plus 52 and 54 Brighton Road. While housing is needed, we have also opposed this development as – unlike Dunsfold Court and Leith Towers nearby – it would have little green space around the site, and the parking provision proposed was inadequate, adding to parking pressures in the area. The block would be ugly, overbearing and a blot on the landscape.
These proposals were rejected by Sutton Council and the developers appealed to the remote Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, thus seeking to overturn democratic local decision taking. We are delighted that the Inspectorate has twice thrown out the proposals. They cite concerns over the overbearing character and appearance of the proposed block, a lack of outdoor amenity space (play areas and garden) and the mix of housing proposed (the number of small one bedroom flats). The Inspectorate rejected concerns about flooding and did not comment on our concerns over parking.
This may not be the end of the story so we will watch out for further proposals. Radical changes to planning arrangements were proposed in the recent White Paper on planning from the Conservative Government, proposals that in some areas would abolish these arrangements for comment on planning applications and lead to proposals being automatically agreed. Pressure from the Liberal Democrats, and our victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, where planning changes was an issue, seems to be forcing a re-think, but these proposals are still, as of now, Government policy. These Government proposals would remove the right of local residents to comment on planning applications, in some circumstances. Richard made a speech at Sutton Council on 12 July attacking these proposals, which undermine local democracy.