TWO IMPORTANT VICTORIES IN THE QUEST TO MAINTAIN THE QUALITY OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE WARD

Northumberland House viewed from Brighton Road

Trish and Richard, in their quest to maintain the quality of building in our Ward, have recently been involved in two important victories.

First, the Planning Inspectorate, have thrown out an awful application to build two houses in back garden land at 87 The Ridgway. The Inspector placed much emphasis on the incongruity of such a development in an Area of Special Local Character and commented “my assessment [is] that it would be an incongruous and alien form of development in the open rear garden environment.”

Second, last June Criterion Capital, the owners of Northumberland House, sought planning permission to add two storeys to the top of the building. Their application has been refused by Sutton Council. 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.

Richard says “This proposal to put an extra two storeys on top of the building was hideous in terms of design. I am glad it has been thrown out.”

The owner sought 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 would be lost, due to a need for additional bin space.

The application was turned down on the basis of design of the proposed tower extension and the lack of window openings within some of the proposed units.

We had noted that there would 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 were concerned that the building work has the potential to be disruptive to the lives of current residents. Also, an extra two storeys on top of the building would look incongruous and clearly out of keeping with the design of the rest of the building.

Residents of Northumberland House were 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 know that, Sutton Council having refused planning permission, the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which, we find, often sides with developers on applications such as this. One thing we can do as local Councillors is to identify conditions that will protect the interests of residents, and that we will try to get built into any planning permission they eventually 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.

COUNCIL CONCERNS AT THE MAJOR THREAT TO DEMOCRATIC DECISION-TAKING IN OUR WARD

Local consultation on planning proposals is vital to maintain standards of build and design, and the street scene

At the meeting of Sutton Council on 23 November – the first Council meeting chaired by Trish as our Mayor – Council passed a motion expressing concern at the threat to democratic decision taking from the proposals of the Government to change the planning system.

Councillors noted that the proposals would lead to automatic approval of many developments with the voice and opinions of local people removed from the planning system. The requirements for new developments to include affordable housing would be severely eroded and the housing target for new building in Sutton increased from 427 units to 1122 units. This latter figure is impossible to achieve without massive increases in the density of housing, undermining the pleasant, green, suburban feel of Sutton.

As local Councillors, we have always been active in looking at planning applications in our Ward and opposing those not good enough to meet our high standards in Sutton. Recently we have been active on proposals in Brighton Road, The Ridgway and Hillcroome. Some proposals that we thought objectionable have been turned down, including putting two stories on the top of Northumberland House. If you scan down the posts on this website you will find numerous examples of planning applications where we have joined with local residents to get improvements or oppose what developers are proposing. It is our claim that since the last local election every time we have taken an application to Planning Committee because we thought it not good enough we have got the proposal rejected.

But now there is a major threat – the proposals of the Government to “reform” planning law are likely to, in many cases, remove the requirements for local consultation on planning proposals and act as a developers’ charter. We want to retain a system that, while it has defects, lets local people have a democratic say on what is built locally. It is too important a right for us to lose. 

SCHOOL STREET AT OVERTON GRANGE SCHOOL

Trish and Richard at the school

Students returning to school at the start of the 2020 autumn term at Overton Grange enjoyed a quieter and safer atmosphere due to the introduction of a “school street” at the gates in Stanley Road at the time students arrived and left for the school day. This involved the closure of the part of Stanley Road adjacent to the school for a short period in the morning and afternoon, when the school day starts and ends.

The objectives of school streets are:

1) To improve safety around the school at start and finish time

2) To improve air quality for children outside their school gates (small people are particularly vulnerable to emissions from cars)

3) To create a more welcoming atmosphere around the school, where children can walk in the road and parents can feel more relaxed.

The scheme was a six month trial funded by Transport for London, who set the parameters of the scheme. The scheme was withdrawn in advance of the conclusion of the six month trial following a legal challenge to the lawfulness of such schemes, but by then it was proposed to withdraw the scheme. This related to difficulties experienced in enforcing the traffic controls, which at successful “school street” schemes involved the participation of the school and parents.

PLANNING APPLICATION FOR TOWER BLOCK AT BRIGHTON ROAD/ COPSE HILL JUNCTION THROWN OUT BY PLANNING INSPECTORATE

Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is opposite the site and residents already say it is difficult to find a parking space

There are further developments on the succession of planning applications to build a tower block on the site that includes numbers 2 and 4 Copse Hill (including The Whitehouse Dental Surgery, 2 Copse Hill, Sutton. SM2 6AD) plus an adjacent block at 52-54 Brighton Road. The first 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 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 lodged an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. We now have the the Planning Inspectorate’s decision – to reject the appeal.

The developer has, however, submitted a further planning application. It is essentially the same application but with a bit of trimming to try to meet the objections to the previous application – for example it is now 55 flats not 65. This is application DM2020/00632. We await the views of the Council’s planning officers.


The site of the proposed block, viewed from Brighton Road

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

RICHARD WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE BATTLE AT PLANNING COMMITTEE

,Allon Court

We have said that one of our objectives is to protect the Ward from inappropriate development.

At Sutton Council’s Planning Committee on 6 June Richard spoke in support of two residents from Allon Court in Eaton Road in a bid to overturn a recommendation from officers to permit the erection of a further storey on the roof of the block of flats, though the block is occupied and this would have been disruptive to residents. The developer wanted to erect a penthouse on the flat roof of the building.

The higher building would also have blocked the light of residents in Cumnor Road.

After a wide ranging debate, Richard and the residents persuaded the Committee to reject the application. Sadly, this may not be the end of the story if the developer goes to appeal – see our story below.

At the next meeting of the Planning Committee, on 4 July, Richard again persuaded the Committee to reject an application officers had recommended they accept, this to extend a house in Mayfield Road, The Highfields Residents’ Association had raised objection.

Officers have rejected a plan to demolish a house at 87 The Ridgway and build a small estate. Richard and Trish campaigned against this proposal,

 

A PLAN FOR A SUCCESSFUL SUTTON

A green, pleasant, suburban environment – this is Sutton

Trish and Richard were members of the task group that drafted the new local plan for Sutton. After going through a process of public review by a Government Inspector, the plan was presented to and agreed by the Housing, Economy and Business Committee on 13 February. Richard addressed the Committee on what he saw as the virtues of the plan. The plan was endorsed by Council on 26 February and Richard again addressed the meeting, reminding Councillors that the process of public review – which can lead to major revision of such plans – left it virtually unscathed. The core policies of the plan survived without alteration, and are the central policies that have helped us maintain the pleasant, green, suburban character of Sutton our residents cherish. This is evidence of the strength of the document.

The plan supports development that is in keeping with the best in our local environment – preserving the green, suburban feel of Sutton while meeting the aspiration to have homes for our children to grow up here. The plan promotes good quality design, school places, the London Cancer Hub, surgeries, the protection of pubs, parks and open spaces, and minimum standards for housing. It also strengthens the protection of Conservation Areas and Areas of Special Local Character. It is our plan for a successful Sutton.

A GREEN AND PLEASANT SUTTON SOUTH

One of our concerns as Councillors is to maintain the pleasant, green, suburban feel of our area. Recently there have been a number of planning applications for sites in our Ward, including in Cavendish Road, Langley Park Road and Downside Road, that the Council’s planning officers have, rightly, turned down.

These have included proposals for house extensions that would close the visual gap between houses, causing harm to the spacious and open character of most of the roads in our Ward, and proposals for blocks of flats whose height, bulk, mass and design would constitute an unsympathetic form of development and have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the area. Applications have also been turned down where at least some affordable housing ought to be provided, to promote mixed and balanced communities.

We are concerned that developments should relate sympathetically to the street scene and the local area. We have also objected to the way the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol sometimes over-rules democratic local decisions, leading to inappropriate development.

A post below describes the concerns in Cavendish Road. In Langley Park Road a proposal for a block of flats was turned down because the proposed development would result in an incongruous layout and unduly prominent development, excessive in scale, bulk and width, with an overly dominant parking area to the front out of keeping with the existing development pattern in the locality, thus detrimental to the character and appearance of the area and the street scene. It would by virtue of its siting and height result in an unacceptable impact on the outlook of the neighbouring occupiers, and would be detrimental to the health of significant trees affected by the development.

In Downside Road a proposal for erection of a two storey side/rear extension was turned down by the Council. The grounds were:

  • The proposal would uncharacteristically close the visual gap between the application site and the adjoining neighbour causing significant and unacceptable harm to the spacious and open character of Downside Road and resulting in a visual terracing impact on the street scene contrary to planning policies.
  • The proposal, by reason of its lack of a setback from the shared side boundary and excessively narrow garage, would result in a contrived appearance that would fail to relate sympathetically and subordinately to the original dwelling and cause harm to the street scene and the local area contrary to planning policies.

TACKLING SPEEDING ON THE ROADS OF SUTTON SOUTH

20mph on lampost sign
Since we were elected as Councillors for Sutton South Ward we have been concerned about speeding in the Ward. Following the speeding survey we promoted in 2011 new traffic islands in Cavendish Road have had an impact on the speed of vehicles using the road. The new zebra crossing with the re-distribution of parking bays along the road – so there is more parking along the road, which generally does slow the speed of traffic – in Cedar Road (between Brighton Road and Langley Park Road) has had some impact on speeds there.
We have also sought to deal with the specific problem of the speed of vehicles approaching the right turn from The Ridgway into Chalgrove Road with better signage on the road and on lamp-posts as your approach the bend.
A proposal now under consideration and discussed by the local committee on May 25 concerns the area of the Ward west of Brighton Road. If fully implemented this would introduce a 20 mile per hour limit in the area east of Overton Road (including Overton Road) as far as the Sutton to Belmont railway line, so including these parts of Worcester Road, Grange Road, Camborne Road and Stanley Road. There would be signage to indicate the speed limit and some raised junctions, and road humps, where roads crossed. This follows a speeding survey indicating some vehicles travel too fast along these roads. There will, of course, be extensive consultation with residents before such a proposal is implemented and, given current funding restrictions and other priorities, action on this proposal – which is a proposal for Transport for London funding – cannot be guaranteed even if supported in consultation.
We would welcome any reactions, particularly from residents who live in the area.
We have also previously floated, in the list of bids to Transport for London, consultation of residents on the inclusion of Christchurch Park in the Sutton South 20mph speed limit area.