Lidl have won their appeal against Bromley Council for a new store on the site of the Porcupine pub at the second time of asking.
A previous plan to demolish the former pub was made in 2013. Bromley Council refused and Lidl lost a subsequent appeal.
Lidl have now won nine years after that first attempt. The Planning inspector’s report published on 23rd March 2022 states in regards to that prior plan:
“In light of the Council’s reasons for refusal, the Inspector considered that the main issues were the effects of the proposed development on a) the character and appearance of the area, having regard to the loss of protected trees, b) the living conditions of adjoining occupiers with particular reference to visual impact, noise and disturbance, c) the provision of community facilities, d) the vitality and viability of the local centre, and e) highway safety.
In dismissing the appeal, the Inspector considered that the benefits of the proposed development to the local centre and the local economy would go a substantial way to outweighing any harm to the character and appearance of the area, the living conditions of nearby residents and the loss of an Asset of Community Value. However, in the overall planning balance, the Inspector considered that the harm to highway safety tipped the balance against allowing the appeal.”
However in the new appeal, cumulative impacts are no more when it comes to factors under consideration with only the highway safety aspect remaining, which saw the plan gain approval:
“In the current appeal there is no dispute between the main parties in relation to matters of character and appearance, living conditions, the provision of community facilities, or the vitality and viability of the local centre.
The sole matter in dispute between the main parties is in relation to pedestrian and highway safety.”
Impact on traffic and pedestrians
That then meant it all depended on pedestrian and highway safety. The Planning Inspector’s report stated:
“The proposed development would be likely to lead to an increase in the level of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
It is nevertheless in a local centre where vehicular and pedestrian traffic movements would be expected to be higher in relative terms taking into account the wide range of facilities and services that are available, and notwithstanding the through traffic generated by residential properties themselves and educational facilities.”
Crucially Bromley Council’s own Highways Officer did not object:
“The Council consider that this intensification of use would lead to conditions that would have a detrimental impact on pedestrian and highway safety.
This view is held despite the conclusions and recommendations of the appellant’s evidence which resulted in no objection being raised from the Council’s Highways Officer and following an independent review by Glanville consultants, who were appointed by the Council.”
They note queuing traffic is possible:
“In terms of the increase in vehicular traffic, there is limited substantive evidence that this would lead to an unacceptable impact on highway safety or that the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe.
I accept that there would inevitably be an increase in traffic, which at peak times may result in localised queuing, however this does not automatically equate to unsafe highway conditions. At this section of Mottingham Road, vehicles are likely to be travelling at slower speeds as they approach or exit the roundabout junction. When combined with the footpath alterations, the speed of vehicles is likely to be further reduced as a result of the proposed development.”
Some have questioned previous traffic studies given they were conducted during covid. The report acknowledges this but states:
“It has been considered and accepted by the Council and I do not find reason to form a different view in this regard.”
Bromley Council stated there was illegal parking, t which the inspector said they should enforce against it:
“The Council has referred to illegal parking on Mottingham Road as evidence of a limited number of parking spaces within the immediate vicinity of the appeal site. Any illegal parking occurring at present or in future can be subject to enforcement.”
Bromley also come in for criticism by not including relevant information:
“The Council’s reason for refusal refers to the impact of servicing and delivery vehicles, although this is not expanded upon in any significant detail in their appeal statement.”
Trees and paving
Paving width is to be reduced near the site though the Inspector states it remains above two metres thus is acceptable.
Two trees will also be removed:
“The proposed development would require the removal of two trees that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order.
The loss of protected trees is, for the most part, generally resisted. In this case however, it is outlined that the Hawthorn tree has been subject to decay since 2013 and that the Oak tree has experienced poor quality work.
Taking the proposed tree planting into account, which can be secured by condition, and the condition of the existing trees, I do not consider that their removal would have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area.”
So after a mammoth battle that saw many both vocally for and against the idea, the shop is now approved and the pub will meet the wrecking ball.
The Planning Inspector’s report touches on many other issues and can be viewed here.