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Bromley Council Supports Kent County Cricket Beckenham Proposal

London Borough of Bromley News Release

16 January 2012
For immediate release

Cricket Club’s development plans supported

Plans to redevelop the Kent County Cricket Ground in Beckenham were supported at a meeting of the Development Control Committee on Thursday.

The decision allows for redevelopment of the county standard cricket ground on Worsley Bridge Road, Beckenham, to include improvements to the sports facilities and new housing. The Kent County Cricket Ground is situated on Metropolitan Open Land and the final decision is subject to any direction by the Mayor of London.

“While we realise that there are a number of concerns to be balanced with this application, this is a special ground with very special circumstances. This is one of the best sports facilities in the area and redeveloped facilities will increase the leisure offer in Beckenham and benefit the local economy. Residents can be assured that the Committee considered at length all the relevant planning materials and policy considerations before deciding on balance that the application should be approved” said Councillor Peter Dean, Chairman of the Development Control Committee.

The application includes plans for new all-weather pitches, an indoor multi-use training centre, a health and fitness centre, improved permanent spectator seating and a small conference facility. There is also provision for housing on the south side of the site in order to raise the capital revenue required for the development of the sports facilities.

Conditions of the permission include stipulations in the milestones of construction, keeping the playing fields and pavilion available for hire by the community and an agreement to upkeep of site maintenance.

For further information visit www.bromley.gov.uk/planning

ENDS

Notes to editors:

 For media enquiries, please contact Jennifer Whyte, Communications Officer, on 020 8313 4314 or email jennifer.whyte@bromley.gov.uk

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I love how the housing, a major part of the objection against the development, is relegated to a very small amount of this press release.  It sets a horrendously dangerous precedent to approve this.  The Kings Hall Road cricket ground is now surely fair game for development, as is Crystal Palace's training ground.  Their supporter's trust is working on a new training ground project over in the borough of Croydon and when that site is sold off, who knows what will be put there.

Seeing who voted for and against it completely astonished me.  Cllr Mellor, in whose ward this is to be built and whose constituents vehemently oppose it, voted for it.  Cllr Getgood from neighbouring Penge and Cator, who discussed the Kings Hall Road cricket ground site on this forum, voted for it.  The longer I live in this town, the less sports facilities we have.  Part of the attraction of Beckenham is how green it is and it seems we just get held to ransom by property developers.

I don't know if people have been following this and what this has turned up.  I've long felt those at the head of this borough aren't necessarily in it for the residents but it seems they've gone a bit too far...

Essentially, LBB will receive a direct financial contribution from Leander Holdings to compensate for the loss of sporting facilities to go towards sports around the borough. This sum has been undisclosed.  Basically, openly bung the council and we'll approve your development.

The resident's group have officially objected to the development to the Mayor of London on the grounds that the building is on Metropolitan Open Land but more irregularities have been uncovered.  Development Committee members were allegedly threatened with deselection if they did not play vote for the development and others were allegedly given free tickets to the cricket.  It's not pretty and it doesn't cast our borough in a good light.

Dear M. Farrow,

I sat on Development Control at the meeting that determined the KCCC development and voted in favour of the application - I saw your post and wanted to make a few comments.

1) "Basically, openly bung the council and we'll approve your development." For any large developments that happen in the Borough, the council can ask that the developer make a contribution towards any losses of amenity, or if it is anticipated that local public facilities are going to require expansion to deal with extra residents. Its called a section 106 agreement and is common in all councils across the country. The money goes into a pot, held by the council and HAS to be spent on the area as deemed by the agreement. After a period of time, any unused funds are returned back to the developer. Far from a bung, it is a way that developers can compensate the residents of the area for the impact of their development. I can't think of any instances that the council has actually made any financial gain out of these agreements while I have been on the council. Normally the S.106 agreement is public, but in this case, it has still to be decided, hence the reason it has not yet been stated.

2) "I've long felt those at the head of this borough aren't necessarily in it for the residents but it seems they've gone a bit too far" Unfortunately the facts do not support this statement. For the application over 184 related letters were received, the vast majority, 125, were in support of the application with only 56 against. Letters of support were sent from residents associations surrounding the development including from Halycon Residents Group, who houses overlook the ground. Other residents associations did not object on principle to the development of the site, but wanted to see further details before either supporting or opposing the application

3)"Development Committee members were allegedly threatened with deselection" this is completely untrue, members are selected and deselected by their Ward committees, no-one in the council has control over these and can follow through on this threat. I have been involved with larger, more controversial developments than this and have never had any threats of this nature.

4)"others were allegedly given free tickets to the cricket" According to the minutes, five members received hospitality from KCCC - this is part of the public record. I can't remember exactly who voted which way, but I know at least one of those members voted against the proposal. 

For me, there was a fear, and this was articulated by a number of the residents groups and ward councillors, that the ground could turn into another Blue Circle Site.  This application undoubtedly split councillors by 9 votes to 8 and looking at the letters that came in residents as well. I do not know what will happen with the objection at Mayoral level - it can go either way but I don't think that it necessarily means that the council has behaved in an underhand or devious way, as you state, but rather it has had to make a decision on a divisive issue. Either way, there is a strict planning process that was followed which was open and transparent. 

Cllr Harmer,

I appreciate the response.  However, I don't think you appreciate how special interests such as supermarkets and property developers have torn Beckenham apart for their own gain, while our council gleefully rubber-stamp planning permissions to do so.

To answer the specific points.

1) The minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting state that this about the S.108 agreement
“To account for any loss of sporting land, a financial contribution would be paid towards sports in and around the Borough which would be paid directly to LBB”.

How can you compensate for the loss of open land?  Sports facilities need to be protected, not sold off for housing, which flys in the face of long-held council policy to protect metropolitan open land.  As I said, this sets a precedent and Leander Holdings own THE WHOLE SITE, including Crystal Palace's training ground.  As far as I can ascertain, CPFC's lease is up in a year and the club and supporters trust are working on moving the training ground to a site in the borough of Croydon.  If this development is approved, what stops Leander Holdings turning that whole site into housing?

Where can any compensation actually be spent when the amount of open land in Beckenham is dwindling and Bromley Council are assisting that process rather than stopping it.  Leander Holdings own the whole site and are looking to redevelop it.  It's completely obvious that the KCCC proposal is a trojan horse.  Why do the council have all the vision of Mr Magoo?

2) I understand certain residents are supportive.  However, it's the scaremongering.  "It'll become a waste ground", "gypsies will get on there".  The council has done little to nothing to secure the future of this ground as a sporting venue and any number of other grounds, such as the Kings Hall Sports Ground, and the gypsies become the bogeyman.

I quote one of the members of the campaign to oppose the development:
One thing is sure. If this Metropolitan Open Land gets build on, which would go against the policy G2 of Bromley’s Unitary Development Plan, it will send a strong message to any ambitious developer. Let’s target cheap metropolitan open land; make “sporty” noises; plead poverty; get some scary ghosts out of the cupboard… and the builders will move in.
…Until the “Metropolitan Open Land” has all but disappeared.

What is this council doing to protect metropolitan open land?  NOTHING.  Take a drive around that site on a Sunday, tell me the local area can handle the congestion of another gym, a conference facility and 48 new dwellings.  Then tell me if it can handle another 60.  That's what's coming next when Crystal Palace leave.  You can say otherwise but let's not be naive.

Which is why I am saying that considering what is really best for the town and really best for the borough as a whole, this council insists on doing the opposite.  If they're not in it for themselves or for the residents, why oh why are they in it?

3) If people have not been threatened with deselection, why are there allegations?  Who's leaking?  Somebody said something.

The council may not have acted in an underhand or devious way, as has been alleged by opponents of the development.  However, are the LBB acting in the interests of Beckenham?  If the current regime had been in charge of Beckenham in the past, we'd have no Kelsey Park as they wouldn't have had the gumption or the vision to buy it and it would have been carved up for rich people.  Leander Holdings are clearly playing a game and the council have either been too naive to realise it.  You can clearly see how people would allege cronyism or corruption.  If they can't build anything more on the land, it's worthless.  However, this council have again made it cheap and cost effective for predators to build on our open land.

I feel you should congratulate your colleagues on the development committee on a job well done.

Dear M. Farrow,

Thank you for your reply, unfortunately again I have to disagree. As I said initially the number of residents supporting the proposal overwhelmed those against by 2 to 1. By suggesting that residents were scaremongered into supporting the scheme you're doing a disservice to those who took time to examine the proposals and write to the council. I'm not sure I saw the word gypsies mentioned once.

There is no legal precedent set by the KCCC development and once again it is simply not correct to imply that members were threatened into supporting it. One Ward Councillor spoke against it and so far remains in post.

If by "I feel you should congratulate your colleagues on the development committee on a job well done." you mean representing the majority of residents who wrote in in support of the scheme (many of whom overlook the area) then the Development Control Committee made the right decision.

Conversely, the proposals by CSC to build on the edge of the Queen's Gardens in Bromley was rejected by the same committee - so the council is not a rubber stamping exercise for large developments.

As I said in my original reply, the council does have to make decisions on divisive issues. The residents are clearly split as were the councillors, even in the ward. Any outcome would have led to one group of people being disappointed, and I am sorry about that. 

I do have sympathy with a lot of the points you raise. Big developers often know how to work the planning system and frequently try to do so for their own gain. On the flipside, residents often don't have access to the same resources in order to argue against an application and as a councillor I spend a lot of time trying to even that balance up so that a fair decision can be made.

I hope this has answered some of the points - I understand that you have very strong views on this, however, as I said, councillors often make decisions on divisive issues and often can't keep everyone happy,

Will

Anybody know what is happening with this?  It's a year down the line and Kent CCC have reduced their presence at Beckenham to virtually nothing.  No games of any kind this year, they're not even maintaining a cricket square, which would mean they're not looking at playing next year either.  They're being propped up by ECB loans and essentially the skeleton operation in Worsley Bridge Road is virtually squatting and they have no firm plans to go ahead with the planned developments, upon which the whole housing development was dependent.  This whole thing has been an absolute debacle from day one.  Where do the council and the planning committee thing now?  Where do we go from here?

Having been on the receiving end of Bromley councils approach to planning applications that don't make sense, I am not at all surprised by the latest development regarding the cricket ground. My property was severely damaged by illegal building works and the council stood aside and did nothing. Almost 7yrs later we are still trying to get our house restored to the condition we first bought it in. Our neighbour has had scaffolding around their property for 2yrs wuth no work being carried out. Not pleasant to live next door to but nothing happens from the council to bring it to ahead. The plans at the cricket ground will bring in money for the council. It doesn't matter that just a month ago an ambulance couldn't get down copers cope road in response to a child that needed assistance at gsmbard...
Who are the Ward Councillors? I think one might be on Twitter and let's call them out publicly here and there to answer residents concerns.

Hi M farrow

Slightly off topic but I am supporting Kent cricket off my own 'bat'. Its easy to argue that beckenham(bromley)  should be the home of Kent cricket with our playing numbers. I am trying to help maintain that by building up cricket numbers at the 3-5 year old level before they move onto the various clubs in tehe area at the colts level.

Its called http://www.minitotscricket.com

located at: Beckenham Baptish Church, Elm Rd, BR3 4JB

If you know anyone that is interested please point them in this direction.

Visit Mini tots cricket or email enquiries@minitotscricket.com to receive more information.

Silence is deafening on this one.  Kent CCC still have the banner advertising last year's Twenty20 game on the fence, that's how much they care.

Crystal Palace managed to secure the freehold on their training ground at auction for £2.3m so luckily the development planned for the Kent CCC site will not extend further.  It's such a shame that the site has been allowed to go to wrack and ruin.  Perfectly decent astroturf pitch on this site in dire need of maintenance, an overgrown grass field that just needs some TLC.  Instead it's going to be used to line somebody's pocket.

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