Richard and Trish had major concerns about a planning application DM2019/00925 for a site that includes numbers 2 and 4 Copse Hill plus an adjacent block at 52-54 Brighton Road. The application proposed over-intensive development of the site, to erect a block of flats with 65 flats. We considered this overdevelopment of the site, incongruous in the local context and likely to cause unacceptable problems relating to parking in the area, with an inadequate number of parking places proposed for 65 flats in an area that already has a shortage of parking spaces.
Following representations that we, together with many residents, made concerning this planning application, it was turned down by Council Planning Officers.
It was been turned down for a number of reasons including the scale, mass and bulk of the development, the quantum of development representing an overdevelopment of the site, the lack of affordable housing and technical reasons such as the lack of biodiversity accounting.
The developer now has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and we cannot control that part of the process. Also, we will watch out for a revised application as developers often go through the reasons the Council has given for rejection and submit a further application tweaked to, in their view, dispose of the objections.
On 8 October we both attended the opening of the new Harris Academy secondary school in Belmont. We were very impressed by the school, which is already vastly over-subscribed. We recollect the fuss and opposition when building a school on this site was first proposed. Quite a few of our residents in Sutton South Ward now have children at this school. ~It was opened by the broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili.
The work involved in repairing a major electricity cable has caused real problems outside Sutton station and the closure of a bus stop. Trish and Richard had to intervene when the pavement was shut and no walkway established, so people were walking in the road. Eventually we got a walkway put in.
On 5 September Richard was one of a group of officers and Councillors that inspected the short footpath that leads from Upland Road to Banstead Road South. Some residents have asked if the footpath could be upgraded, but the question is – exactly what could be done?
While we were there a team of contractors arrived and undertook the work we had requested to cut back the overgrowing vegetation along the side of the path and tidy it up. It looks better now.
The surface of the path is in reasonable condition for a footpath. There are two lamp standards and we hope to get the trees – which are in the gardens of private houses – that partly shade the lights trimmed back. The fencing along the path is mostly in good condition.
At present the path is a footpath and cyclists are expected to dismount. It would be possible to make it dual use. It is straight, so when entering the footpath at one end you can see if anyone is on the path for the whole length of the path. Assuming people are sensible and a cyclist who encountered a pedestrian on the path would proceed with caution, it would be possible to allow cyclists to use it. Officers are to take some measurements and assess the possibilities.
We would like to know your opinion on these possibilities, and how the path might be spruced up.
STOP PRESS – the vegetation has been cut back. It is proposed to keep the path better maintained. Some work will be undertaken to widen the path at points where it could be widened, and to allow cyclists to use the path.
We remain committed to delivering an e-bike scheme in Sutton.
The Council has been partnering with Lime on a 12 months trial for a dockless e-bike scheme. Sadly this scheme has now foundered as Lime have withdrawn – we guess it did not prove profitable. The Council is in discussion with other potential providers.
Electric bikes give you a little boost when you start to pedal and when you go uphill. This normally helps less confident cyclists.
The new on-demand bus service for Sutton is proving very popular. Find out more at www.gosutton.co.uk
At the July Council meeting Richard spoke to Councillors about what residents told him were the attractions of Sutton South. In a debate on the special character of Sutton he said the green, pleasant atmosphere of the Ward was carefully nutured by Sutton Council but threatened by the decisions of the remote Planning Inspectorate, unaccountable to local people. Here is the text of his speech:
“In my Ward, the planning polices of the Council have undoubtedly been highly successful in preserving the pleasant, green, suburban feel of the Ward. Residents I talk to who have moved to Sutton South from other parts of London often comment on the attractions of the area – low crime, good schools, a pleasant, green, suburban atmosphere, close to the country, close to central London. There has of course been new development over the years but the quality of what has been built has generally been of a high standard.
But I could take you on a tour of the Ward to look at developments that I am less happy with, one of them (Northumberland House) a development that exploited the Government’s “prior approval” arrangements to avoid planning controls, but al the others developments turned down by Sutton Council but then approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate. Some of these have been highly regrettable decisions, particularly in terms of design and overdevelopment of sometimes very small sites.
Before I became a Councillor I used to think there was a case for a body like the Planning Inspectorate as, surely, there were all these Councils up and down the country taking idiosyncratic decisions based on wildly varying local circumstances and this central body would impose some consistency of standard. What I in fact observe though is the complete opposite – it is the Inspectors whose decisions seem arbitrary, idiosyncratic, mercurial and lacking consistency, while the Council is imposing a consistent standard at a level based on extensive consultation to establish what is expected by local people.
I think our planners are doing a good job, but there is a case for wider reform of the planning system at a national level to protect the democracy of local decision-taking.”
The Council is generally quick to remove graffiti and fly tipping. When Richard reported this graffiti in Cedar Road at the foot of Northumberland House it was removed in a few days. Graffiti and fly tipping are a scourge. Report to us any instances you see.
The Council decided that, as parking is often raised as a problem in the regular surveys of the views of residents on what they like about living in Sutton, it would ask all Sutton residents if parking was a problem in their road and what they would like done. The first round of consultation led to the traffic engineers proposing a parking control scheme in just three roads in this area – Chalgrove Road, The Ridgway and Mayfield Road. As there seemed to be no appetite for the full CPZ with machines, as in Langley Park Road, what was proposed was yellow lines operable for one hour a day to remove commuters and “long stay” parkers. There would also need to be bays where people could park at any time, to cater for those residents who have insufficient drive space and need to park a car on the street all day during the day. This is the scheme in Hillcroome Road.
These proposals were not
given sufficient support by residents for the Council to have a mandate to
proceed with them. Majority opinion in Chalgrove Road was against and, with
about a third of residents responding, there was a roughly equal split of
opinion in The Ridgway and in Mayfield, small majorities for in Mayfield and
against in The Ridgway. The Council would only want to proceed with such a
scheme if there was clear and strong resident support. Paradoxically, residents
in Upland Road
were keen to be included in any parking scheme for The Ridgway and Mayfield.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Responses to consultation
suggested that a major problem with the proposals was the free bays, which were
seen as a magnet for commuters and long stay parkers, squeezing out residents.
The alternative to schemes that all have this disadvantage is a residents-only
Permit Parking Area.
The way this works is that only residents can park their vehicles in the road for a “control period”, usually one or two hours each day on weekdays, thus removing commuters and long stay parkers. However, residents would need to obtain and display a parking permit on any vehicle they want to park in the road during the “control period”, and obtain “visitors’ permits” for their visitors. As this scheme will involve the costs of administration and enforcement, and it is only fair that these are borne by those who benefit from the scheme, there is a cost for a permit. The charges would be designed just to cover costs and policy is that they will not increase in the future by more than the index of prices. The cost of a first permit in the current CPZ area is £40 which contrasts with £90 in both Kingston and Merton, £99 in Richmond, £80 in Croydon. Studies consistently show that Sutton is one of the cheapest places in London to Park.
The Council will consult residents on this proposal. Some residents will not see this as a price worth paying to remove non-resident parking and will not support the scheme. That is understandable – we are not making any recommendation but just want to see if residents would or would not support such a parking control scheme.
In Sutton South Ward, the Council will consult residents in Chalgrove Road, The Ridgway, Mayfield Road, Farm Road, Upland Road, Kayemoor Road, Farm Close, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue, in September, on whether residents want this scheme in their road. The proposed Permit Parking Area also extends into Belmont Ward, to Egmont Road.
For Willis Avenue, Prior Avenue, Kayemoor Road, Downside Road and Farm Close – the results of earlier consultation did not suggest a strong push for parking controls in these road, but residents are still being asked their view on whether they would now favour your road being included in any Permit Parking Area. There was a lower rate of response from these roads, perhaps because the Stage 1 proposals for parking controls in The Ridgway and Mayfield Road were thought to have limited implications. The displacement of parking, particularly if the Permit Parking Area extends to Upland Road, and the fact that numbers of vehicles parked is continuing to gradually increase, could have an impact in the medium to long term, also noting current housing developments in central Sutton. So the Council is again taking the views of residents of these roads.
We are not making any recommendation – as local Councillors we simply want to do what a majority of our residents want. We hope residents will respond to the consultation, in September, so we have a full picture.
There is an event to explain the proposals at Sutton library on 27 June.