The side entrance at Sutton station

As local Councillors, we have been enthusiastically promoting and supporting a campaign to ease the congestion at peak times at Sutton station and create an easier route into and out of the station for Sutton South residents by opening up the side entrance. We will continue to promote this campaign.

Our latest proposal is that we will be preparing a bid under  TfL’s “Major Schemes Funding”, for this scheme. The bids are required to be submitted to TfL in September, so we have started work on it and Council Leader Ruth Dombey wrote to Boris Johnson on 29 May to seek his support. We will consult with stakeholders as appropriate. The bid will be for a wider scheme to improve the area around the station, a “Major Scheme” bid. Opening up and staffing the station side entrance is a matter for Southern Rail so the Council will need to enter into an agreement with them to open it up. They agreed to this ‘in principle’ during the Outer London Fund bid preparation, when the Council submitted a well-researched bid for funding under the Mayor’s Outer London Fund to facilitate the opening of the side entrance at the station.

Opening the side entrance would be of benefit to the many commuters and other travellers who live in South Sutton Ward, who could enter and leave the station by this entrance, leading directly into The Quadrant. A page on this site (“Ward Map”) leads you to a map of the Ward, which shows the importance of opening this entrance. As rail travellers pass through the side entrance they would cross the boundary into Sutton South Ward.

As Sutton South Ward Councillors we strongly support this bid, as the outcome would be of benefit to our residents.

The Council wants to improve the “Gateway” into Sutton and the experience of those arriving in Sutton. Hence it wishes to improve Sutton station. The station is an important focal point for the town centre and the first impression that many visitors have of Sutton. It has been identified byTransport for London as a station that suffers from congestion problems due to its limited capacity in terms of the front entrance hall and ticket barriers. The Council continues to hope, in partnership with Southern Rail, to open the side entrance to the station for passenger use. In the longer term a more comprehensive re-development of the station is hoped for to expand and modernise passenger facilities and and enhance this important gateway and transport interchange.

The side entrance at Sutton station would cater for the considerable demand for direct access to the station from the Quadrant House office block, which houses Reed Business Information (which has approximately 2 000 employess, many of whom travel to work by train) and a number of other companies. This office block and those who work there are an important contributor to the economic vitality of Sutton. Reed Business Information fully supported the bid. The new side entrance would also serve the station car park, motor cycle and cycle parking areas, which generate considerable demand for access from that side of the station. It would also serve all the residents of Sutton South Ward who approach the station via Wellesley Road from the Langley Park Road direction.

Opening up the side entrance, which physically is already there, requires the installation of automatic ticket barriers with Oyster readers, a new ticket machine,  associated lighting, signing, communication improvements and CCTV improvements. Staffing costs would be met by Southern Rail. It is accepted that the side entrance would probably not be open all day, but using the entrance could ease the congestion at the station if open during peak hours in the morning and evening.

Despite this strong case, the Mayor refused to support the earlier Outer London Fund bid, although accepting other aspects of the Council’s bid for funding under that scheme. We are not giving up and are taking forward this further “Major Schemes Funding” option. Let us hope for eventual success, as this development will be of value to the residents of Sutton South Ward.


Sutherland House

Both Richard and Heather made important contributions to debates at the Sutton Council meeting on 30 April.
Supporting Local Businesses

Richard seconded a motion on supporting local businesses, noting the conclusions of the Portas review on support for town shopping centres. He pointed out out that we have strong planning controls in Sutton designed to maintain the pleasant, green, suburban character of the Borough, but that the Portas review and the proposals of the Local Government Association in response to it highlighted additional controls that would be useful. He noted that, on many of the specific proposals in the Portas review to re-vitalise shopping centres, Sutton was well placed – having strong links with local businesses, a mix of retail shops, banks, restaurants, leisure facilities, markets and events, good transport links and parking facilities.

Brighton Road High Street

Heather drew attention to the difficulties in Sutton South Ward relating to the continuing failure to re-develop Sutherland House (see the photo above) and hoped that the new powers we were seeking would improve our ability to influence situations like Sutherland House.
In another debate, we welcomed a review that is to be undertaken of parking controls in Sutton. A subject  that is of great interest to residents.
We noted that Sutton has low charges for parking, relative to most London Boroughs, issues fewer penalty notices than any other Borough, and that the accounts for parking charges roughly break even, so these charges do not subsidise other Council services  We both drew attention to our wish to introduce specific parking schemes in Suton Court and Eastleigh Close.
The text of the motion on planning was:
Supporting local businesses
Proposer:  Jayne McCoy
Seconder:  Richard Clifton
This Council notes the findings of the Portas Review and supports the Local Government Association’s response proposing a five point plan for our high streets.
This Council has produced its own response to the Portas review with specific recommendations it intends to implement locally in particular:
  • That the Council support the Business Improvement District (BID) Steering Group in its application to become a Portas pilot.
  • That we build up a package of tailored support for District centres.
This Council welcomes the devolution of powers in the Localism Act to improve our local area and supports the Local Government Association’s call on the Government to now go further by giving Councils the power to protect our high streets and district centres, specifically:
  • To introduce new powers to enable councils to tackle the clustering of premises such as betting shops, fast food takeaway and late night off-licenses, and limiting the power of the planning inspectorate to overturn local community decisions.
  • To improve existing planning powers, including Article 4 and to introduce a new umbrella use class, in to which local authorities can add types of premises they consider to be problematic in their area.
Thereby allowing us to defend the diversity of our high streets and district centres and ensure they are thriving and sustainable for years to come.
Council calls upon the Leader to write to the Secretary of State for Communities to press for these important new controls.


Residents will have noticed that the demolition of 39A Eaton Road has taken place.

Sutton Council consistently rejected planning applications involving the demolition of this house. The reason why demolition is now taking place is that the Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol, over-ruled your local Council when an appeal was made.

Richard spoke against the application when it came to the Council’s Development Control Committee, and helped persuade the Committee to throw the application out. But we cannot overturn a decision by the Planning Inspectorate, whose decisions have been – in our view – inconsistent and unhelpful to planning policies in our area.

We remain concerned that the continuing demolition of family houses and their replacement by small blocks of small flats without gardens is leading to an unbalanced housing stock in the area, and we will continue to oppose this trend in dealing with planning applications. There is more information on our position on the page on planning on this site.


Richard and Heather were involved in initiating a debate on planning policy at the Sutton Council meeting on 17 October. Richard wanted to welcome some aspects of proposals for a National Planning Policy Framework while drawing attention to a number of problems involved in the planning system that have affected Sutton South Ward – the permissive nature of permitted development rights, the inconsistent decisions of the Planning Inspectorate and the slowness of the system, which does not help maintain public confidence.

The full text of Richard’s speech is as follows.

“I would like to support the motion’s cautious welcome for the National Planning Policy Framework, as a set of planning policies that respect a localist agenda,

while at the same time expressing our concern that there are some aspects of the direction of policy that we still need to work on to get them right.

I believe that the planning system, as it operates in Sutton, has worked well to protect the interests of the community.

We have in particular, over many years, adopted a strong policy to protect backgardens and control backgarden development. There are two important aspects to this:

–         we have adopted planning policies that carefully control what types of backgarden development might get planning permission, and even this year have strengthened that policy with amendments to planning policy DM30 to ensure that aspects of character, appearance and amenity are fully considered: and

–         we have devoted significant resources to ensuring planning requirements are strongly enforced.

To this end, every site where an infringement of planning law is alleged is visited and the enforcement staff work carefully through the processes required by law to get any breach corrected.

I am impressed by the statistic that in the last year the enforcement team have met their target times for early site visits in 97% of cases.

The processes they follow are, because of planning law, sometimes slow – but every case is doggedly pursued to its conclusion.

This policy, however, comes under pressure from several sources that we cannot as a Council control.

First, from the legal requirements concerning what is permitted development.

I think the reforms of 2008 took out of the planning system buildings that really ought to be within it.

I was surprised recently when, in my Ward, a large building was built in a back garden but found – due to the dimensions and overall size of the plot, and its planned use – to be permitted development, though it has certainly affected the amenity of neighbours, some of whom are here tonight. We must be on guard against any further relaxation of permitted development law.

In taking forward the National Planning Policy Framework, none of us would want to see rights of permitted development widened still further, and a key point in the motion is the statement that extending permitted development rights further will reduce rather than enhance the power of the community to stop inappropriate changes.

I am therefore delighted that the amendment to the motion calls for a full review of permitted development law.

Second, there are the decisions of the Planning Inspectorate – not mentioned in the motion, but I cannot let pass the opportunity to say their decisions are less consistent than I would have expected – and indeed some of their decisions have done real damage in my Ward.

Third, the legal processes do not help. They provide those who breach planning law with myriad opportunities for appeals and delay, all of us have examples from our own Wards. And at the end of the process we sometimes face the seeming lethargy of the Courts in dealing with such breaches. All of this hinders our strong enforcement efforts and leads to a public perception that things take a long time, which affects public confidence in the planning system.

These are all factors we cannot control, but we must take every opportunity to make representations to seek their amelioration – and this motion is a part of that campaign. 

So – a cautious welcome for the National Planning Policy Framework, recognising that this is a policy area central to our efforts to maintain the pleasant environment of our Borough. It is right that we should intervene in this national debate to make clear to all our determination to be able to continue those efforts to cherish and protect the green and pleasant character of Sutton.”



The Mayor of London has been accused of short-changing Sutton after the borough was given the capital’s lowest transport grant. 

Each year, every London borough receives Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding from Transport for London (TfL) to invest in local projects which support the Mayor’s plan for transport in the capital. For the second year in a row, Sutton has been given the least in London, leaving the council with less money to invest in the transport infrastructure.

frustrated councillors have criticised the Mayor for failing to invest in Sutton, despite the borough’s track record in delivering innovative transport plans.

Cllr Simon Wales, Executive Member for Communities, Transport and Voluntary Sector on Sutton Council, said: “Sutton has a great track record in running innovative and successful transport schemes, but we need money to make them work. The council and members of the local community work together to make sure the transport system keeps getting better and better but the fact remains that we could do even more if we had more funding.

“I’m disappointed that the Mayor and TfL won’t give Sutton the same kind of grant that it awards to other boroughs. This means that some of the improvements that we have planned will have to be cut back, or even shelved completely. We think that Sutton’s residents deserve better, and will continue working hard to carry out transport improvements that the local community wants to see.”

As well as schemes to boost traffic flow and make travel more sustainable, LIP funding is used to make the borough’s roads safer.  Maintenance works are financed through a separate budget, but improvements to reduce the number of road accidents often come out of LIP resources. Transport investment is particularly important in the current economic climate, as good accessibility is one of the factors that help town centres and local shops to thrive.

In Sutton, LIP money has been used to continue the successful initiatives on sustainable transport under the scheme known as Smarter Travel Sutton, which increased cycling by 75 per cent and is now used as example by other councils, after the initial project came to an end.



A television programme – “The Wright Stuff Extra” – broadcast on 21 July was largely shot in Cedar Road in our Ward and included an interview with Councillor Clifton standing alongside the box outside number 39 that we have asked BT to move.

Richard made the point that when Parliament agreed that BT could put the boxes anywhere without need to abide by planning controls it expected BT to be responsible. The box, placed right outside Mrs Russell’s window, is in the wrong place.

BT declined to appear on the programme but issued a statement again refusing to move the box. This is deplorable.

A post on this site (see archive for May) describes the general problem and a later post (see archive for June) describes earlier action relating to the box.


A street meeting attended by local residents was held on the morning of 9 June at the box, pictured above, erected by BT/Openreach outside 39 Cedar Road in South Sutton Ward. While we need these boxes for Broadband, local people have expressed strong feelings about the way this box is erected right outside the resident’s front window.

A post on this website (see archive for May 2011) describes the general problem related to these boxes, but we are aware that BT/Openreach can, due to an Act of Parliament, ignore planning law in erecting the boxes. Sutton Council wrote to them last November with objections to the proposal to erect this box in Cedar Road as it contravenes Department for Transport guidance. BT seemingly ignored the Council’s objection, which they can legally do, though they have maintained that in a discussion with a member of staff of the Council the objection was later withdrawn. These objections related only to comformity with planning guidance and not the wider problem of the impact of the box on the amenity of local residents. Within a 100 yard radius of the box there are four old-style green boxes in appropriate positions that do not cause any problem to residents. Local residents felt that the box could have been erected alongside one of those.

The street meeting was attended by local residents, including the occupant of 39 Cedar Road, Councillor Clifton and Councillor Colin Hall, who deals with these issues on the Executive of Sutton Council and has been in touch with other Councils that have similar problems across London. Jack Hamilton, former chair of Sutton South Neighbourhood Association and a local resident, also attended. 

Two people from BT/Openreach, Giles Ellerton and Adrian Paice, came to the meeting. The argument they put to the local residents was an entirely technical argument that technical problems, related to avoiding digging up pavements where there are high-voltage cables and required distances between cabinets, prevented them from putting the cabinet in any other position.

Local residents were suspicious of the argument put, in that it is a technical argument by the people who have the technical expertise, and consequently no-one present had the expertise necessary to assess its validity. There was also a feeling that if the occupant had had hard standing for a car in front of her house, as the house next door does, this would have prevented BT/Openreach from erecting a cabinet in that position – in which case they would undoubtedly have found some other solution, not just given up.

In email exchanges after the meeting an offer has been made to the resident of 39 Cedar Road of compensation for particular aspects of the inconvenience she has suffered. However this is very limited and we understand she is not likely to accept it.

Councillor Clifton, whose pressure led to the meeting being set up, comments as follows:

“This meeting has not resolved the problem. I can take some positives from it.

First, BT/Openreach have, under pressure,  now met local residents and explained in much greater detail than we have had before why the box was erected where it is. This makes it possible to seek more information and a technical opinion on whether their argument stands up, something we will do.

Second, alerted by the problem here, I will ask Sutton Council officials to advise me as a local Councillor of the locations of any further boxes to be erected in Sutton South Ward so I can look at the proposed locations. BT/Openreach seem to have been usually quite responsible in assessing locations, which makes it particularly disappointing that they cannot resolve the Cedar Road problem – a particular, and severe, problem.

Finally, the meeting has led to a very limited offer of compensation. That is, however, a matter for those involved to discuss.” 

[ A tense moment during the road meeting, at which there was a frank and open exchange of views between local residents and BT/Openreach staff. Councillor Clifton, on the right, puts a point to Giles Ellerton of BT/Openreach. ]



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.


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. “