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As you probably know Beckenham didn't get anything in the Mayour of London's Outer London Fund, while Bromley, Penge and Orpington all had successful bids.
On the 17th of January Bob Steward (MP for Beckenham) said the following in the House of Commons:
"I am slightly disappointed that the Mayor of London’s outer London fund has not given additional funding to my constituency, but I am very pleased that Bromley has been given another £5 million to help redevelop its town centre, as it is the major shopping centre that many of my constituents use weekly."
Personally I don't shop much in Bromley, so I was surprised by this comment, I get my essentials from Beckenham High Street and go to central London for anything else I can't find in Beckenham. My trips to Bromley are rare, once every 2-3 months and as a last resort.
I'm curious of other people habits. If you live in Beckenham how often do you shop in Bromley?
You can read the full MP intervention here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120117...
Bea I agree with you I found this an odd statement to make. As a family we rarely shop in Bromley, probably the same as you, once every 2 to 3 months. Firstly, Beckenham has several good supermarkets within walking distance of our home, I tend to use a combination of Beckenham Waitrose and Beckenham Sainsbury. If I want to do a big food shop I would drive to the big Sainsbury in Sydenham, certainly I would never consider driving to Bromley for food shopping.
I wonder what Bob meant? Perhaps he meant clothes shopping but, this is certainly not a weekly event with us and I often shop online for clothes anyway.
One of the things I love about Beckenham is that most of the shops and amenities we want to use are within walking distance and I have no wish to start driving to Bromley every week, even with the redevelopment I would not even consider this. I wonder if Bob shops in Bromley every week or what he bases this statement on?
I pretty much agree with Fiona. I rarely go to Bromley to shop for anything. Food we buy in Beckenham or Penge, and gifts/homewares etc I can get in Beckenham or online, as well as clothes shopping. In fact I probably only go shopping in Bromley maybe 4 times a year. And if Im looking for an outfit for a special occasion or want to look in the sales, then more often than not I will go to Bluewater as there's more choice. If i can get what I need without using my car then I will go locally.
Fiona, I think Bob Steward lives in Shortlands which is indeed very close to Bromley town centre so his family probably does their weekly shopping there. I guess those living in the west wards, Shortlands and Bromley Common do their weekly shopping in Bromley and those south might even go to Croydon, for the rest of us we are very well served in Beckenham for our weekly shopping: Waitrose, M&S Food,Sainsbury and a Tesco express open till 11pm.
Like you, I like the "human" feel of the Beckenham High Street, its walking distance and its village feeling. If I want to have a more exiting shopping experience I head to London which has more choices and is more interesting than a large town high street, with my monthly oyster card (I work in London) I can use trains and get easily to Covent Garden or King's Road.
I don't know if I would be more attracted to Bromley after the redevelopment, but if the reference is Croydon I definitely wont, I lived seven years in Sutton and went to Croydon only twice for shopping.
I found disappointing than Beckenham MP is only "slightly disappointed" that his constituency didn't get any funding while he is "very pleased" that Bromley got a huge sum when many people in Beckenham thinks we were badly represented by Bromley Council and blame them for the failure to secure funds for our town centre.
Penge Councillors have just tweeted the details of The Full Council meeting tonight. A quick look shows an interesting Q and A: http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=13830 This shows the huge difference in the funding provided by the council to Bromley Town centre, Orpington Town Centre and Beckenham Town Centre. Guess which town centre is bottom of the pile? The differences are amazing.
What annoys me the most however is why was the question not posed by a Beckenham Councillor? The q was posed by a residents association yet looking at the rest of the qs they are posted by councillors concerned for their constituents.
So we have Bob Stewart (slightly) disapointed and a deafening silence from the rest. I really cannot believe there has not been more fuss made about the failure to secure any funds for Beckenham from the OLF.
Who was responsible for putting the bid together, does anyone know? Its just a really poor effort all round as far as I can see.
Responsibles for Beckenham bid were Bromley Renewal and Recreation Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee and Bromley Council Leader :
R&R PDS Committee Chairman: Councillor Sarah Phillips, Clock House, Conservative
R&R PDS Committee Portfolio Holder: Councillor Peter Morgan, Plaistow and Sundridge, Conservative
Council Leader: Councillor Stephen Carr, Bromley Common and Keston, Conservative
These Councillors were the ones ultimately responsible to prioritize and agree Bromley and Beckenham bids for OLF Round 2.
However the blame is also on other Councillors who didn't do their homework. In a meeting held on the 13th December 2011 Councillor Michael Tickner (Copers Cope ward which includes Beckenham High Street) suggested that the Beckenham and West Wickham Town Centre Working Group be reconvened to look at proposals for the OLF Round 2 Beckenham Town Centre Project, Sarah Phillips (Chairman Renewal and Recreation) informed that Beckenham bid had been submitted already as applications had to be submitted to the London Development Agency by midday on 14th November 2011.
According to Sarah Phillips Beckenham could bid for a TfL Area Based fund in 2012, however in order to secure TfL Area Based funding for the Beckenham Public Realm development, the Council may be required to approve a minimum of £700k matched funding from their own resources towards the project. A report will therefore have to be submitted to the Executive to agree such a commitment before a bid is made to TfL for this funding.
Bromley council meeting tonight , among the items in the agenda is Beckenham Public Realm Improvement Programme bid to TfL for Area Based Scheme funding. It's a three-step bidding process, step one starts in September 2012, if bid is successful funds will be released in 2013/14.
The paper for discussion starts with the following background:
"Whilst there are some vacancies within the town centre, there is evidence of healthy churn and limited long term vacancies. A number of national retailers are interested in taking space within the centre."
Well, Beckenham MP, Bob Stewart seems to think differently:
"Beckenham used to be a wonderful place to go, but it is getting shoddier and shoddier, and we need more funding to make such areas good places for people to go—even if they are going there not to spend any money, but just for social reasons." House of Common 17 January 2012.
There are currently 13 empty shops/premises in Beckenham High Street (see a full list in my next comment), if according to Bromley Council the presence of eight (8) charity shops represents 13% of comparison floorspace, then the empty shops represent 21% of comparison floorspace.
Maybe Sarah Phillips chairman of the Committee can tell us a bit more about the national retailers interested in taking space within Beckenham town centre, they are spoilt for choice.
Empty shops and premises in the Beckenham High Street, starting from War Memorial and following the High Street up to Beckenham Junction Station, 50% of them long term vacancies (1 year or more)
1- shop at the corner of War Memorial next to Barclays (long term vacancy)
2- shop behind bus stop at War Memorial next to Risto restaurant
You could add in several premises on Clock House Parade on Beckenham Road to that list, It's just as much part of Beckenham
I shop in Bromley no more than two or three times a year (ie only when I absolutely have to). Getting there means two buses or having to take the car and struggling to find over-priced parking. A couple of times I've driven over there and had to come back because of the lack of parking.
It's much easier to get to Croydon, since the implementation of the tram.
I guess I shop in Bromley about once a month. Not for food, obviously, but for clothes, books, and consumer durables. I am fond of Lakeland, Waterstones, M & S, The Gap and Boros.
I also occasionally use the central library reference section too - excellent. Always use the 227, far easier and cheaper than parking in those ghastly multi-storeys.
Don't think a great deal of Beckenham's shops (love the toy shop though) apart from supermarkets.
Can't stand Croydon, ghastly place. Bluewater is fine but too far.
I shop in Bromley sometimes, but only when I have no other options, i prefer Beckenham high street.
The wider question is what shops would we like to see in our high street? Which will we actually shop in, instead of going to Bromley or online? Personally I would like to see the return of a shop for children, for a while we had two and now there is none. I would love a butcher (when I originally moved here there was an organic meat butcher in Clock house parade) and would not mind another restaurant ( Japanese if possible as I love sushi and there is none around here).
As for the money from TFL for the high street, can I ask the councillors whether there will be any public consultation on the plans before they are submitted; I heard the previous bids were branded as shambolic and it would be a shame for Beckenham to miss out on the opportunity . Would it be worthy to write to the MP, given that he seems to have shown interest?