From The Murky Depths

Housing and Development in London

Bexleyheath

Bexleyheath’s 518-home town centre scheme in for planning

A couple of weeks ago this site covered the final consultation of Bellway’s plan for 518-homes in Bexleyheath Town Centre on the former civic office site.

Now the final plan has been submitted.

There’s many more detailed images of the development. I’m a big fan of this corner building with its inter-war modernist appearance. It’s the highlight of the development with clean lines, recessed balconies and curved corner treatment.

Unfortunately the main tower doesn’t replicate the style and instead appears a pretty lumpen and grey block from some angles. The continuous horizontal bands don’t help. Here it is viewed from Sainsbury’s.

When it comes to types of housing, it’s revealed that “affordable” housing (which often isn’t even for those on average incomes around £30k) totals 20%. It’s even getting to the point now where even skilled professionals cannot afford “affordable” housing.

There’s no social housing mentioned. Bexley Council have a pretty lamentable record of providing so-called “affordable” housing, let alone social housing, as Bexley is Bonkers points out here.

View looking towards Sainsbury’s

Sports Direct will have a large store at ground level. Parts of Highland Road will be pedestrianised to improve links to the town centre.

It’ll bring in sizeable sums to Bexley Council:

  • £4.2 million to Bexley Council through the Community Infrastructure Levy.
  • An additional £3.1 million will be brought in to the council through the New Homes Bonus. I covered what that is here. It’s a little known source of funds that is bringing Greenwich Council £13.7 million this year. There’s a bonus for councils in ensuring higher numbers of “affordable” housing so the low 20% figure will cost them income.
  • It’ll add £790,000 per year in council tax income.
  • Nine retail units are included, including Sports Direct, which will bring in £79,000 in business rates.

Something here that will raise attention is the possibility of creating a future  pedestrianised space on Broadway car park by Sainsbury’s.

It could be purely hypothetical from the developer given a reduction of income and potential loss of shoppers.

The planning reference is 17/02745/FULM

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54 Comments

  1. Joe

    I like the look of this development and feel it will be a welcome addition to the town centre. Its shocking that the site has been left standing empty for years.

    • JK

      I agree that something needs to be done with the site but not such a massive development of buy to lets and un-affordable homes.

  2. James

    It will help Bexleyheath get more recognition.. It doesn’t feel like a Shopping Centre in Suburban London.

    • JK

      Suburban being the key word and not building tower blocks which not in keeping with the size and style of the surrounding architecture.

    • Mike

      James- Bexleyheath is in Kent not London dear oh dear

      • maggie

        Overlooking and loss of privacy, overshadows big part of residential area located on the north side of the development.Not in Bexleyheath character. The artist impression is misleading . The sun is coming from north and the only time when there actually will be a bit of sunlight on the street between Sainsbury and the buildings will happen on 21 June 4 am for few minutes(checked)
        Council clearly described this area as mainly retail. Commercial does not mean -retail . Bexley council clearly pointed in 2012 that residents strongly oppose to skyline blocks of flats (base on previous experience) and this kind of developments would not be allowed. Once again-twe are talking about commercial area in the middle of traffic. NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY and very danger for children walking to school or trying to play around. Car park -with hundreds of additional residents there is no place for parking their cars. Parking is already an issue in Bexleyheath. Signature building? This kind of projects are highly popular and suitable for the architecture of Korea, China and Russia how ever this kind of design have nothing in common with the character of Bexleyheath. Looking on all aspects of the projects and the council requirements it is clear- this development project failed in 98% already

      • Liz

        Bexleyheath is indeed located within The London Borough of Bexley which is in SE London:

        https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1963/33

  3. JJ

    This will be a massive over development of the site with a 17 storey building overlooking all surrounding areas. As informed by the Bellways team it will be in 3 blocks.

    The first block near the Marriot will be twice the height of the Marriot.

    The second block in the middle will be twice as high again.

    The third block opposite the cinema will be more than twice the height of the cinema and overlooking all the surrounding gardens and areas.

    There will be no public access in the green spaces between the blocks and the car parks will only house 250 cars for 500 properties and possibly 1000+ cars… where will they all park? or will they really all use public transport as suggested by the PR team doing the drop in’s.

  4. The 6 new tower blocks go to a maximum height of 102.4m and look Huge on the planning drawing compared to the current cinema height of 75m and the Marriot at 71M high.

    The smallest of the 6 new Bellway tower blocks will be 82.5m rising incrementally to 102.4m near the cinema.

    This will block out daylight and sunlight to all surrounding areas as far as Erith Road with Lynstead, Highland and Oakhouse being affected the worst as shown in their daylight report, not to mention the all the new flats overlooking into all neighbouring properties and gardens.

    We need to object to the planning permission in the Bexley comments link below so that Bellway make the tower blocks smaller with none of them being higher than the current cinema height and in keeping with the area.

    http://pa.bexley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=OZCMF7BEMAX00

    • James

      How ridiculous, They will not be that high!

      • Claire

        Yes they will be that high…
        Read page 16 of planning document 17_02745_FULM-DAYLIGHT_AND_SUNLIGHT_REPORT_PART_1-2099221.pdf on the bexley planning website. Heights as shown below;
        Block1 – 82.5m high
        Block2 – 82.9m
        Block3 – 85.5m
        Block4 – 85.8m
        Block5 – 88.9m
        Block6 – 102.4m
        Block7 – 102.4m

      • Claire

        To put the height into some sort of perspective, Bellway tower blocks at 102.4m high will be a bit under half the height of Canary Wharf Tower which is 235m high.

        • James

          Even the buildings in Lewisham aren’t that high, I believe you have got the wrong measurements or Bexley council has.

          • Claire

            Not sure if you work for the Bellway PR company but unfortunately the facts are they will be 102.4m tall as that is what is Bellway have requested in the submitted building plans, you can try and convince otherwise as much as possible.

            Unless people comment and object to the council on the Bellway planning application the tower blocks will be that high.

  5. Carl

    Last Belway development flats in bexley residents park in surrounding streets causing chaos every weekend as most properties are either sub let or rented and they cannot afford to pay for their parking .
    Along with staff from council offices using area to park as they say they are not allowed cars ? Only the select few or maybe they charge too

  6. MA

    Claire: I don’t think you realise what 100 m building look like. I am sure the heights in the document you are referring are above sea level heights….

    • Claire

      The tower blocks will be 102m high (nearly half the height of Canary Wharf Tower). If you know how to read planning documents then measurements and plans submitted for approval are as follows Cinema=75m, Bellway tower block= 102.4m.

      So how ever you want to cut it the new tower blocks will be 27m or 89feet higher than the Cinema… that’s nearly 4 houses higher than the cinema to make it easier to understand.

  7. MA

    …document you are referring to are above sea level heights….

    • Claire

      The tower blocks will be 102m high (nearly half the height of Canary Wharf Tower). If you know how to read planning documents then measurements and plans submitted for approval are as follows Cinema=75m, Bellway tower block= 102.4m.

      So how ever you want to cut it the new tower blocks will be 27m or 89feet higher than the Cinema… that’s nearly 4 houses higher than the cinema to make it easier to understand.

  8. MA

    You are just completely wrong….so don’t panic please. The height levels are relating to ABOVE ORDNANCE DATUM which essentially means sea level… Therefore it means that the height of the 13 storey building, which is the highest will be just shy of 30 metres…

    And yeas, I do know how to read planning drawing. Do you?

  9. Claire

    Thank you MA, I take your point about above sea level, but the plans show cinema=75m, tower block= 102m. Where has the extra 27m gone? it is not a 27m drop from cinema kerbside to the other kerbside.

  10. MA

    No worries Claire. My experience of onsite measurements is that very often there are quite significant discrepancies. I do not expect those figures to be absolutely accurate.

    My understanding of those figures is that the cinema rooftop is approximately 75m above sea level whilst the rooftop of the 13 storey block will be around 102m above sea level. Therefore the actual height of the building when standing on ground floor should be around 30 metres. 13 storeys x 2.4m per storey works out to around 31.2m

    • Claire

      Still doesn’t make sense, I think Bellway might be trying to pull a fast one. 102m height is detailed in several places in their 70+ very detailed and large technical documents and you don’t expect Bellways to slip up on a basic figure like that. Still doesn’t account for the extra 27m above the cinema roofline… there can’t be 27m of under ground levels as the planning only lists one lower ground floor.

      Jamie MacArthur of Bellway Homes was also a bit vague on the total height at the public consultation PR extravaganza they held in October to try and bamboozle the public.

      Bellways orginally only said seven storey tower block to start with then changed it to 13 storey and as you well know planning applications are subject to change and re-submission so it’s a cat and mouse game with the public until they achieve the maximum they can get away with.

      Thats why people have to object, not withstanding all the other factors like infrastructure, overcrowding, lack of affordable housing and a massive over development in a small area.

      Bexley gov link for objections;
      http://pa.bexley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=OZCMF7BEMAX00

      • James

        I very much doubt anyone would build a 100m tower in Bexleyheth for a VERY long time! Sly or not..

        • Claire

          James, Jamie, MA. I’m sure you’ve already seen it but look at the planning document linked below and look at the current and proposed diagrams, they show the massive size of the tower blocks in relation to what is already there;

          http://pa.bexley.gov.uk/online-applications/files/1B78E9FCC24A40A90947E193176A609C/pdf/17_02745_FULM-15976_BEXLEYHEATH_TVIA_16-11-17_APPENDIX_3-2100990.pdf

          • Simes

            As mentioned, these measures are above sea level. The street level in the nortwestern corner outside the cinema is approx 57m above sea level – meaning the highest neighbour (the cinema at 75 m above sea level) is therefore 18m above STREET LEVEL. The tallest building in the proposal is 102m above sea level, or 45m above street level at the same point.

            Another way to envisage it is: imagine two and a half cinemas’ height from the street. Or look at the cinema’s highest point and try to imagine another one and a half of those on top.

  11. Grf

    For some strange reason the above document cannot now be viewed

  12. MA

    Claire: When I look at the document you are referring to, the tallest building has still only 13 storeys. (the rendered image) There is no way 13 storey building can be over 100 m tall.

    • Claire

      MA: I see your point about AOD but can’t explain why the submitted plans for the Bellway tower blocks show 102m and cinema shows 75m, do you know why that could be?

      Unless its a huge incompetence and failing on Bellways part with basic measurements on housebuilding. I would expect better from one of the UK’s major housebuilders with revenues of £2.6 billion and 2500 employees… this after all is their core business… surely they can’t be that incompetent and it doesn’t bode well for the final finished product.

  13. JJ

    The council have had to extend the closing date for objections to 22nd January 2018 because Bellways tried to sneak in the planning a week before Christmas hoping that everyone would be too busy to object.

    Please make sure you object and tell everyone to write in and quote 17/02745/FULM or use the link below;

    http://pa.bexley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=OZCMF7BEMAX00

    Ojbect and request that the height is in keeping and no higher than the Cinema and buildings near it. We don’t need such a massive over-development of 13 storeys and 7 tower blocks on such a small site.

  14. Firs of all we talking about commercial area that never has been and never should be consider as residential. The hight is absolutely unacceptable. We’ve known for decades from “tower block blues” that lack of space and light, good insulation for heat and sound, and agreeable surroundings are not just design and economic issues. They can cause serious emotional problems for crowded families, for school-age kids looking for a quiet space We learned that families watch television with headphones because they felt guilty that their neighbours
    might hear it.

    • JJ

      Maddie, I totally agree with you, people need to object to this planning application.

      • maddie

        thank you JJ . I am not sure whether the Bexleyheath residents are aware of their rights to object to this project. This project is a Bexleyheath home-owner’s nightmare. Our peace of mind, safety and tranquillity could be erased overnight Not only will there be months of disruptive building work, but later we are likely to suffer increased traffic jams, noise and visual pollution. Furthermore, the value of our homes may drop like a stone. Thousands of householders has been affected already by such schemes let down by planning laws

  15. Maddie

    Basildon’s Thamesmead’s and many other haven’t we seen enough already?
    http://www.basildonstandard.co.uk/news/8303898.MY_VIEW__Maybe_a_dream_that___s_become_a_nightmare_/

  16. Annike

    I guess in the end these rower blocks will also hosting immigrants in huge numbers and because of well known problems, the blocks will be avoided by local residents-so the district will become run down as sev examples have shown in the past.
    This can’t be in the interest of anybody.

  17. Annike

    Also needs to be said,that there is not enough parking space-there is already huge parking issue in Bexleyheath around the area. Residents have to pay double (on the top of residential permit!) just to park their cars outside their homes. There is a long walking distance to any transport that could be used by professional commuters .Ugly concrete towers will hugely devalue property prices in Bexleyheath. If the project is accepted any professional who recently bought property there will be leaving the area fast!!!

  18. JJ

    Maddie, if people don’t take time to object it will go ahead, they need to either write in or object online (there are currently only 4 objections and 1 supporting)

    Object at:
    http://pa.bexley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=OZCMF7BEMAX00

    We need to try and limit the size at least because Bexley Council will let it go ahead in some form as it generates a lot of money for them, in current form worth nearly £5million to them.

    • maddie

      Just found something that could be useful :
      Homeowners concerned about new or enlarging developments can contact the Royal Town Planning Institute’s network of National Planning Aid branches, which offer free, independent, professional advice. Planning Aid for London gives free advice on planning issues in the capital, while the Environmental Law Foundation links communities to legal and technical expertise.

      When a planning application is made, the council is not obliged to write to residents, but it has to keep a register of applications available for public inspection, often in libraries.

      Many people only get to hear of proposed developments from the notices that councils post on the street. You have the right to inspect the plans and normally have 28 days to object. Send a copy of your objection to the local planning department and to councillors who sit on the planning committee, or talk to them at their surgeries. Three days before the planning meeting, you have a right to see other letters of objection and background documents.

    • maddie

      We have number of senior citizens in Bexleyheath who are not much familiar with IT and with this project

    • maddie

      http://www.rtpi.org.uk/planning-aid/contact-us/
      I will try to spread the issue over social media and possibly some home printed leaflets. The fact that they chose the festive period is really appalling

  19. Example of VERY SIMILAR design in reality…Don’t we see enough of these cement monsters around London? In the effect of these developments being approved most of the areas where they are located has been gradually abandon by local residents used to live in the neighborhood. There are many boroughs in London suffering from Ghost Town disease caused by SIMILAR DEVELOPMENTS

  20. Simes

    Ah but I remember the giddy heights of May 2017: so very long ago when the world seemed so more reasoned and rational. Back then you could read in the council’s “Bexley Growth Strategy Public Consultation Draft May 2017” ( https://www.bexley.gov.uk/sites/bexley-cms/files/Bexley-Growth-Strategy-Public-Consultation-Draft_1.pdf ) and specifically in the section for Other Growth Areas: Bexleyheath (and I quote):

    “6.4.9
    Within and immediately adjacent to the centre there are a number of significant development sites that offer the opportunity for higher density mixed-use development, taking advantage of the area’s accessibility and service provision. This development should be in the form of four to eight storey mansion blocks; tall towers are not considered appropriate for this area. In this context, the town has the potential to deliver some 1,500 new dwellings and over 1,500 new jobs.”

    So the council definitely thought 4-8 storeys would be enough to meet the ambitious target of 1,500 new dwellings. But that was waaaay back in… May 2017 … about 7 months ago?

    Someone might say, “ah but that was only a draft.” But if this farce goes ahead it might be interesting to find out why the council thought that back in May and doesn’t think it now.

    • Claire

      Good find Simes.

      This is worth digging a little deeper into, and using in any planning meeting they might allow.

      Currently there are 45 objections so hopefully Bexley will take that on board and not plain sail the application through.

      • Simes

        Thanks Claire.

        Just a further note: this document is now ADOPTED, ie no longer “draft”. The section above section is retained in full.

        If that isn’t a dagger blow to the proposal then *other* questions must follow.

        • Claire

          New plans have been put on the Bexley planning site…

          It looks like Bellway and consultants are trying hard to answer some of their initial shortcomings from the original plans and also give responses to the public oppositions by quoting industry standard measurements they have used are within tolerances.

          • Simes

            Hmmm … interesting on a couple of fronts. Bellway certainly seem to be at their most productive immediately prior to a bank holiday – they were the grouch that stole Xmas and now it looks like Easter went too. Coincidence, that.

            The daylight impact assessment that originally only seemed to consider buildings to the South (yes South, here in the Northern hemisphere) appears to have been addressed by looking at Tower Road (the road on the other side of the cinema) and parts of Erith Road. This is interesting in that the finding concludes the sunlight post-build will be within the 0.8 tolerance of what it was before. I guess they don’t put this in percentage terms because then it highlights that the tolerances allow up to 20% reduction in sunlight. It’s slightly more complicated than that because this is an average, so in winter when the sun is lower there will be a higher percentage reduction to the day’s sunlight as an aggregate.

            The main rationale is that there is little change in sunlight to these properties because the proposed development would already be obscured by the existing cinema building. In short, these properties so close to the cinema and already in shadow remain in shadow. No change. (Well with 0.8 of what it was before, aka 80%).

            There is no assessment of slightly further north and less already-overshadowed properties like those in Mayplace Road West. These properties certainly WILL be in the shadow of this development in winter and they aren’t currently overshadowed by the cinema.

            But when it reaches the level of debating of the precise location of individual windows on these properties and the albedo / reflexive index of the furnishings inside; well that has to be a clear indication this is an entirely out-of-character proposition. The density calculation for this 1.42 hectare site is off the chart… it doesn’t fit the council’s established typology classifications.

          • Claire

            Simes, You have posted some very useful and informative comments and some interesting points to be raised at the planning meeting.

            Bellway and consultants will clearly say whatever needs to be said to make this happen as we know it’s worth a lot of money to them.

            Lets just hope the council try and curb them a little regarding the height. I went to the last planning meeting which covered the issue of the new flats in the open green space in the estate near Belmont road and unfortunately I gleaned from that meeting that the council seemed in favour of it, partly because of the extra revenue generated and also in trying to achieve their house building quota.

            I fear the Bellway’s proposal will also be seen as a revenue generating exercise, rather than the oversized monstrosity we know it will become.

  21. Roger

    518 properties but how many car park spaces. When I asked I was told a lot less than 518. So where will they park?

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