TRISH AND RICHARD RAISE CONCERNS OVER THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE

Northumberland House viewed from Brighton Road

Trish and Richard have been in discussion with Criterion Capital, the owners of Northumberland House. Northumberland House is the tower block at the corner of Brighton Road and Wellesley Road, about 200 yards along Brighton Road if you turn left when coming out of Sutton station.They intend to seek planning permission to extend the building, creating a further 36 flats by having two extra storeys on the ten storey part of the building and an extra storey on the lower part, with some additional flats in the”undercroft” above the parking area. A few of the 47 parking spaces will be lost, due to a need for additional bin space. There will be some positives, such as the creation of a community amenity and play space on the tarmaced area at ground floor level. However, while there is a shortage of accommodation in London and more housing is needed,we are concerned that the building work has the potential to be disruptive to the lives of current residents. Also, while we will need to look at the final plans, an extra two storeys on top of the building may look incongruous if clearly out of keeping with the design of the rest of the building. We are seeking the views of the residents of the building, and residents in the wider area, on these proposals. Residents of Northumberland House who have responded to us so far have been concerned about the likely disruption involved in this proposed work, and have long standing concerns about frequent lift breakdowns in the building and security. We are aware that if Sutton Council refuses planning permission the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which, we find, almost invariably sides with developers on applications such as this. One thing we can do as local Councillors, however, is to try to identify conditions that will protect the interests of residents, and that we could then try to get built into any planning permission they obtain. For example, we can seek to ensure there is a construction management plan to control hours of work and control noise and dust nuisance. We can ask that the contractor joins the Considerate Contractors Scheme, which provides a route for residents to raise concerns if they observe poor behaviour. We can seek conditions that will require that access to the roof areas is only by external hoists, and that the peace and quiet of the interior of the building is not disturbed or the interior turned into a storage area, or building site. We will also want the viewsof residents more widely on the design, when the planning application is submitted. We would like your ideas and views

A LISTED STRUCTURE IN OUR WARD!

The drain pressure release pipe in Hillcroome Road

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, advised by Historic England, has added to the National Heritage List for England the historic sewer pipe in Hillcroome Road.

This structure thus becomes the only structure in our Ward to be nationally listed as of historic and architectural significance, so it could only be altered or have work done on it if listed building consent was obtained. There are three other buildings in our Ward that are listed on the Local List of structures of local importance, which provides a lesser degree of protection. These are:

  • the Registrar’s office (The Russetings) in Worcester Road, a Victorian house that it is believed the Walls family, famous for Walls ice cream and Walls sausages, lived in, though this is disputed
  • Stowford in Brighton Road, a Victorian house, now the Eagle House school
  • the pavilion of the Highfield Lawns tennis club at the junction of Mayfield Road and The Ridgway, as an example of an Edwardian tennis pavilion, build by local builder Percy Vere Windebank in 1908

These Drain Pressure Release Pipes, also known as ‘Stink Pipes’, can be seen at various locations within the old Carshalton Urban District Council boundary. They have been listed on the basis of the criterion that they are important to the townscape view.

They were produced by W. Macfarlane & Co. of Glasgow, a prestigous Victorian Ironworks. The company employed imaginative designers and produced huge amounts of ornate and decorative ironwork. The pipes are extremely tall with an ornate top fixture comprising a large arrow, a globe with four trumpetlike funnels and a spike spire piercing a crown. The height and funnels may be to ensure the gas disperses efficiently so as not to inconvenience local residents. It is not known what purpose the arrow has, whether to indicate the direction of sewer flow or act as a weather vane to indicate wind direction.

They serve two purposes, firstly to prevent a build up of pressure in underground sewers in the event of a blockage, and secondly to vent off any hydrogen sulphide gas. This gas, which smells of rotten eggs, can build up when sewage becomes septic, on long runs, or when the speed of the sewage is slow in flat areas. It is extremely corrosive and can eat through the concrete pipes. The sewerage system would have become a necessity after the rapid increases in population and residences in Sutton and Carshalton at the end of the 1800s. Prior to this sewage would have been dispersed into cesspits and drainage ditches, with a risk of contamination of the drinking water supply, contributing to ill health.

The history of W. Macfarlane and Co. and their foundry, the Saracen Foundry, is fascinating. In 1851 Walter Macfarlane (1817-1885) established his company in a disused foundry in Saracen Lane in Gallowgate, Glasgow, and named it Saracen Foundry. It later moved to Washington Street, near the River Clyde. By 1872 his nephew, also named Walter MacFarlane (1853–1932), joined the rapidly expanding company and they relocated to Possilpark, a site of 100 acres on the outskirts of the city. Here a foundry with railway access and a village-styled infrastructure to house the workforce was built. In a decade it housed 10,000 people but the vast iron-founding site caused much pollution. The young MacFarlane made standardisation and good design the key to the company’s successful development. The foundry’s work was used on prestigous developments and widely distributed. During the Second World War Possilpark industrial works was a vast and well-lit target for attack. The recovery of iron to melt down for the war effort also removed much of Saracen’s work. After the war, the collapse of the British Empire, the move away from steam power and the use of new designs and materials led to a vast decline in orders. In 1967 the foundry at Possilpark closed.

MORE TREES, TO COUNTER GLOBAL WARMING

Richard with the tree outside White Lodge Close

One of the ways to combat global warming is to plant more trees. Richard and Trish have been responsible for getting the Council to plant many trees in our Ward, some to replace trees that were lost to disease but many new trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and pollution, and pump out oxygen. Sutton is amongst the leaders among the 32 London boroughs in the number of street trees per yard of pavement. This contributes to the pleasant, green, suburban atmosphere of the area we all so much enjoy, though it creates a headache every autumn when the leaves fall.

This planting activity has included trees in:

Upland Road – outside 18, 20, 39. 103

Camborne Road – outside 47/49, 32/34

Effingham Close – 17, 26

Langley Park Road – opposite 91 Egmont

Devonshire Road – outside the school

The Ridgway – 18, 59

Christchurch Park – one outside, and one opposite, White Lodge Close.

TRISH AND RICHARD SECURE IMPROVEMENTS TO LIGHTING AND PAVEMENTS

The Council’s programme for re-surfacing roads and pavements has been under pressure over recent years due to the impact of austerity and cuts to Government support to Councils. The Council has had to implement savings measures in order to survive, and it has been a struggle to maintain these programmes.

There is an annual programme of review of priorities for the resurfacing of roads and pavements and replacement of light columns. Last year, we were delighted by the re-surfacing of the pavement in Mayfield Road. The programme for the coming year includes more work in our Ward, including the re-surfacing of the footway in The Ridgway (pictured above) and the replacement of concrete light columns in a number of roads at the western end of the Ward –

  • Effingham Close
  • Grange Road
  • Grange Vale
  • Overton Road
  • Stanley Road
  • Ventnor Road
  • Summers Close

SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME TO PARKING CONSULTATION

We now have the results of the final stage of the Council’s consultation on parking. The third round of consultation was on a proposal developed from the results of the first two consultations, for a Permit Parking Area in roads in our Ward east of Langley Park Road.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE EARLIER ROUNDS OF CONSULTATION

As parking is often raised as a problem in the regular surveys of residents on what they like about living in Sutton, the Council asked residents if parking was a problem in their road and what they would like done. Earlier rounds of consultation led to proposals that were not given sufficient support by residents for the Council to proceed with them.

There were concerns that unless the controls cover the whole local area parking will be displaced into roads without controls, and “free to park at any time” bays would be a magnet for commuters and long stay parkers, squeezing out residents. The alternative to schemes that have these disadvantages is a residents-only Permit Parking Area (PPA).

THE FINAL STAGE OF CONSULTATION

Consequently, the Council consulted residents at the end of 2019 on a proposed PPA. As roads not within the scheme will suffer from displaced parking if the roads nearby are in the scheme, the area consulted on was wide, running from Egmont Road to Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue – including Chalgrove Road, The Ridgway, Mayfield Road, Farm Road, Farm Close, Upland Road, Kayemoor Road, Downside Road, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue.

The results of the consultation are clear – in every one of the roads listed above a majority of those expressing a view on the proposals supported their introduction. In some roads – particularly Chalgrove, Mayfield, The Ridgway, Upland – this was by a large margin. In all these roads more than one in four residents responded to the study, a high response rate for such local consultation exercises, and opinion was more than two to one in support of the proposed parking controls. In other roads consulted there was a lower response rate but still majorities in favour of the proposals. Once a scheme is introduced, any individual road left out will suffer high levels of parking, so any scheme needs to cover the whole area. It is a clear result that gives the Council a mandate to proceed with the introduction of the PPA consulted on.

The way the PPA works is that only residents can park their vehicles in the road for a “control period”, 9 to 11 AM each day on weekdays, thus removing commuters and long stay parkers. Residents who need to park a car on the road rather than in their drive during the “control period” will need to obtain a parking permit to display on the vehicle, and many residents will want to obtain “visitors’ permits” for their visitors if the visitors need to park in the street during the control period. There are special arrangements for carers. As this scheme will involve some costs of administration and enforcement there will be a charge for a permit, to cover costs, though all residents can get an initial supply of visitors’ permits without charge. The Council can cover costs but not use parking charges to subsidise other services. Parking charges in Sutton are amongst the lowest of any London borough. Charges per vehicle are on a scale you can find on the Council website and start at £40. A similar charge in Croydon is £80, Merton and Kingston £90, Richmond £99. You only need a permit if you need to park a car in the road during the “control period.” A PPA involves notices to advise motorists of the parking controls but there is no need for yellow lines.

Residents will receive a letter from the Council which will set out the timetable for introducing the scheme, later this year, and how to obtain permits.

Many residents are concerned about parking and we are pleased they have now had the opportunity to put their view on a concrete proposal developed on the basis of consultation, and a clear outcome has emerged.

SPEEDING AND POLLUTION

We are concerned that the removal of parking from the area will lead to clear roads that will attract more traffic and speeding. In many parts of London, though often more affluent areas, residents have campaigned to get the traffic out of otherwise quiet residential streets and onto the main roads by turning roads into cul-de-sacs, thus creating quiet roads with better air quality and no through traffic. A good example locally is the gate at the end of Dorset Road which makes Homeland Drive a quiet, traffic free road. We are interested in the proposals residents have been putting to us for consultation on such traffic initiatives in our area. Nothing is currently proposed but, as traffic continues to increase, this is the next issue we need to look at. Do let us know your views.    

APPEAL LAUNCHED AFTER NOOR JAHAN BAR LOSES LICENCE

The owner of the Noor Jahan Tandori Bar in Brighton Road has submitted an appeal against the decision of Sutton Council to remove his licence to sell alcoholic drinks.

Sutton Council completed its review of the licence of the Noor Jahan Tandoori Bar, at 10 Station Parade, Sutton, just south of Sutton station on the Brighton Road, earlier this year. The bar is the only bar in Sutton South Ward.  

At a hearing of the Licensing Committee on Monday 17 February in the Civic Offices in Sutton, the decision was taken to revoke the bar’s licence. Trish and Richard attended the hearing. Richard told the committee that he did not want to see the bar closed but it needed to be much better managed, as it had been in the past, to ensure there was no nuisance to local residents.

The bar had a Premises Licence to sell food and drink till late at night.

Discussion at the committee related to the four licensing objectives of:

  1. Prevention of crime and disorder

     2. Protection of children from harm

     3. Public safety

     4. Prevention of public nuisance.

The committee was shown video evidence indicating breaches of the licence conditions, with trading outside the permitted hours, smoking in the bar, and noise problems.

The decision of the owner to appeal means that, in normal circumstances, the bar could continue to operate until the appeal is determined. However, the current coronavirus restrictions mean that the bar, along with other pubs, restaurants and bars, is closed. The current restrictions mean it may be a while before the appeal is determined.

The premises are up for sale and it is believed that there is a buyer keen to take over the bar. The buyer would, unless the appeal succeeds, have to apply for a new licence and convince the Licensing Committee that the premises will be better managed in future.

It is understood that the Spagetti Tree restaurant, near the bar, is taking over the vacant unit next to it (also an Italian restaurant until it closed recently). And that the vacant Rift and Co. premises opposite Sutton station will become a Sainsbury’s local.  

GO SUTTON BUS WITHDRAWN: JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN TO KEEP THE BUS

The coronavirus crisis has led to the suspension of the Go Sutton bus service, as demand for the service has collapsed due to the restrictions on leaving your home and on travelling. We will petition to have it restored once the crisis is over.

The Go Sutton bus trial attracted massive attention. Information is at http://www.gosutton.co.uk

The year-long trial for this on-demand bus service had positive feedback and the service was extended to cover the area shown on the map. You could register online and phone when you want to use the bus. The cost was £3.50 (plus additional passengers at £2) but free if you have a Freedom Pass, like Richard.

The bus service was innovative, on-demand scheme which picked up
residents close to where they lived and took them to any destination
across most parts of the borough. The scheme started in 2019
and was due to end in May 2020 but Liberal Democrats in Sutton petitioned for the service to become permanent.
Residents told us, especially elderly people or those with learning difficulties, that the bus scheme proved to be a lifeline for them.
That’s why Liberal Democrat councillors set up a petition calling
on the Mayor of London and Transport for London to make the
scheme permanent.You can still sign the petition by clicking here .
Apart from helping people to get around the borough,  the scheme helped us to improve air quality, reduce congestion and cut down on the
number of individual car journeys. Please sign the petition.

SECOND SERIOUS FIRE IN THE WARD IN THREE MONTHS

UPDATE – Since the story below was posted there has been a third serious fire, again with extensive damage to property but no injuries, this in Westmoreland Drive.

On 15 January Trish and Richard visited Grosvenor Court in Brighton Road where there had been a serious fire in a second floor flat during the night. Extensive damage had been caused to the flat and the flat downstairs, but mercifully no-one was injured. We spoke to the fire office, the caretaker of the building and the owner of the flat, which had been empty and under renovation at the time.

Last October, Richard and Trish visited Sutton Court, one of the largest estates in our Ward, having learned of a fire in a flat at the block (see photo). We spoke to the next door neighbour, who lives in the flat opposite on the top floor of their block. She had been concerned at the fire but we were all relieved that no-one was hurt and the damage confined to a single flat.

The damage that fires can cause emphasises the need for everyone to fit smoke detectors and carbon monoxide indicators.

LIVEABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS

A cycle hanger provides secure bike storage

Sutton Council has put in a bid to a fund financed by the Mayor of London called “Liveable Neighbourhoods”. It will be in competition with lots of other bids from other boroughs and Sutton has a poor record of getting funds from the Mayor. So it is a bit of a gleam in the eye. If Sutton is successful we will know by about next March.

The scheme would fund action on a range of measures that would improve the environment locally. If successful we could get funds to invest in our neighbourhood. This money could be spent on issues like safer crossings, reducing cut-through traffic, better roads so children can walk to school safely, more electric charging points and better cycling infrastructure. This would include measures to encourage walking and cycling, and to improve air quality. There is a website with details and a survey you can complete.

https://sutton.citizenspace.com/highways-environment-and-planning/sutton-liveable-neighbourhoods/

There is also information on the fund on the TfL website. This says:

“Our Liveable Neighbourhoods programme gives boroughs the opportunity to bid for funding for long-term schemes that encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

The programme supports the aims of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy by funding local schemes to reduce car trips and improve neighbourhoods for walking, cycling and public transport.

Grants will be provided for a wide range of community-supported projects. These could include creating green spaces and cycling infrastructure and redesigning junctions. The programme can also fund the widening of walking routes to improve access to local shops, businesses and public transport.”

Trish and Richard visited Waltham Forest where they had funding under this scheme, in the time Boris Johnson was Mayor, for a scheme known there as “Mini-Holland” as one of the objectives, but not the only one, is to promote cycling.

One of the ideas, just to give an example, is “cycle hangers” which provide secure outside storage for bikes – very popular in areas where there are blocks of flats and people have little room for bikes in their flat. This is particularly so if they do not live on the ground floor so have to lug a bike upstairs. A majority of residents in our Ward (Sutton South) live in flats, a majority of these people living in upstairs flats, so we think there would be great demand for these spaces. The hangers take up one parking space in the road. See photo above.

Closing roads outside schools for half an hour when the pupils are going in and out is an idea, but this is now a common practice in some parts of London, for example at the school Richard’s grandson goes to in Herne Hill, where there is a rota of parents who erect temporary gates.

Road closures (turning some residential roads into cul-de-sacs by closing them at one end) to reduce rat-running down otherwise quiet residential streets and move the traffic onto main roads is certainly an aspect, but it needs approaching with care. The objective would be to move traffic onto main roads so that residential streets are quieter, with no through traffic, safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and with improved air quality.

There are undoubted pros and cons that need careful examination. There is a good example locally, in Belmont, the gate in Dorset Road close to the junction with Holland Avenue. This is inconvenient to motorists and many residents, and adds to traffic in roads like Holland Avenue. But it massively adds to the quality of life, quiet and clean air of residents of the Homeland Drive area, who otherwise would experience a lot of rat running traffic. It is surely worth investigating whether there is scope for similar interventions locally. Examples in our Ward could be Chalgrove Road and Cumnor Road, where the removal of through traffic would have a transformational effect on the quiet of the road and air quality.

We were told that the experience in Waltham Forest was that they put in some “modal filters” as they call these closures in some roads for a six month trial. In most but not all cases the residents wanted to keep the controls in place at the end of six months, and in some cases where the residents wanted them removed the residents now want them back. Some residents find them inconvenient as they make their own journeys by car more complicated, but it seems most feel this downside is outweighed by having quiet streets with reduced traffic and less air pollution. There is also the fact that if there are comprehensive parking controls introduced in an area, reducing parking, there will be speeding and probably increased through traffic.

Residents have asked us about the circulation of a list of possible road closures. The origin of this list is some illustrative examples prepared by consultants working on the bid to demonstrate what might be done. In fact the Dorset Road example is a much better example as it is real and already exists.

So we think it worthwhile bidding for this money. The Council has made no announcement about it as we do not know yet if the funding will be forthcoming.