Hayes Line Gets Back on Track

Following discussions with our MP Bob Stewart, Southeastern Railway are set to unveil plans to increase service levels on the Hayes Line.

As demand gradually moves back towards pre-pandemic levels the new timetable in September will see longer trains and a restoration of off-peak services to Charing Cross from Hayes.

In an response to Bob Stewart MP, Southeastern Railway have confirmed that “We will be shortly announcing a timetable change in September, which will see targeted increases in capacity and frequency on routes where passenger numbers are expected to increase beyond our current service level. In London this will include longer trains on the Hayes and Bexleyheath lines at certain times of day … and the reintroduction of off-peak services to Charing Cross on the Hayes line. The next timetable change is planned for December, when we are expecting to make further targeted increases to capacity and frequency, but these plans have not yet been finalised.”

Pickhurst Lane Phone Mast Refused

A mobile phone mast proposed near the bottom of Station Approach has been refused planning approval by the Council.

The twenty metre structure was to be sited in the forecourt of the petrol station close to the entrance from Pickhurst Lane. The application was refused on the grounds that the mast would have ‘a significant detrimental impact on the visual amenities of the surrounding area and this would outweigh the public benefit that it would provide’.

Hayes Common Works – Update

We are well aware of the controversy over the filling in of the bike tracks and jumps on Hayes Common and removal of the dens that local children had made. We can well understand the disappointment of both parents and children at the move, especially in recent times when the common provided such respite from domestic lockdown.

It seems the works were carried out in response to reports of excessive damage to the Common – particularly trees – as well as being an enforcement of existing by-laws. While the Council has generally taken a pragmatic approach to enforcement of these by-laws it appears that some additional recent damage to the trees and surroundings had meant action had to be taken.

The full official explanation for the works is as follows:

On 17th March 2021 idverde received written concerns regarding the existence and extent of the area used for bike jumps. The concern was based primarily around the safety risk posed to both the users of the jumps and other site users. Upon further inspection we found jumps of significant size which we deemed to be dangerous. In addition to this, trees in the immediate vicinity had been vandalised and one had its root base excavated which resulted in that particular tree unfortunately having to be felled due to the risk it presented.

Hayes Common is a Local Nature Reserve and part of a Site of Scientific Interest, as well as Common Land. The presence of such a feature as well as the activity itself contravenes a number of the bye laws for common land.

As a Local Nature Reserve the significant level of ground disturbance from digging and the repeated use by bicycles has resulted in a large area of bare ground where flora is unable to grow. Combined with the damage to trees in the vicinity this represents a real ecological concern. A similar issue exists with the construction of dens which result in large volumes of timber dangerously stacked against trees, often for long periods of time. These structures are unstable and dangerous and could arguably represent an increased fire risk during periods of dry weather. The removal of dead wood from the woodland floor negatively impacts the wider woodland ecology by reducing the surface are of deadwood in contact with the soil which again in a Local Nature Reserve is an important consideration.

It is standard working practice for us to take such action when informal structures are built within our parks as it is considered anti-social behaviour/vandalism and also create serious health and safety issues for other users. We sincerely appreciate the impact of Covid and the strain it has on many young people. We’ve seen a significant increase in numbers of visitors to our parks and open spaces over the last year, and this is forcing us to observe our duty of care more sensibly. While a minority of users may enjoy using such a feature we have a duty of care to all site users, particularly when the act contravenes the bye laws in place. This was the second bike track which we had been made aware of in Hayes Common, the first in February which was also filled in.

As your local councillors, we were disappointed at the breakdown in communication between the contractors, Council, councillors and other interested groups which led to the current position; this is currently being looked into to ensure a repeat situation does not occur.

Clearly it would be preferable to see solutions that respect the wishes of all users of our Common and open spaces, including generations both present and future. Each of us councillors have been users of the common either in our own youth, with our children or, in one case, now grandchild.

Furthermore the continued attractiveness of the Common is due in no small part to the tireless efforts of the Friends of Hayes Common and we greatly appreciate all that they do.

Concerns Remain Over Bourne Way Flats

Developers of a proposed block of flats off Bourne Way have made some changes to the plans.

The proposals for a five storey block on the site of the current Bromley & Blackheath Harriers’ clubhouse have already caused considerable controversy. The main alterations are to reduce the size by four units (from 36 to 32), with the top storey being ‘stepped back’ somewhat from both the south-eastern (Prickley Wood) and eastern blocks. However, the visual impact of the flats largely remains from Prickley Wood, Bourne Way and even Hurstdene Avenue.

Some more detailed information has also been filed, including the operation of the ‘traffic light’ system controlling movement on the narrow access road, which now also includes a 1.2m pedestrian walkway. There is still a mention of a holding area for vehicles entering from Bourne Way which appears to rely on the cooperation of the landowners of Woodgrange Court.

We do support the plans for the Harriers’ at Norman Park and the community benefits that will bring, and recognise the importance of the Bourne Way development in supporting that vision. We have not met anyone opposed to the principle of residential development at the Bourne Way site, but we do agree with residents that any proposals must still be right for the area and minimise the impact on the surrounding community and we are highly sceptical that the current proposals achieve this. We remain concerned about a number of aspects of the development not least the height, access arrangements and general visual impact on the immediate area.

The plans are expected to go to a committee for a decision not earlier than 20th May. While the ‘official’ deadline for comments on the latest changes is 15th April, the council generally accepts submissions submitted a little later; nevertheless we recommend that any comments be made as soon as possible to ensure they are considered.

The plans can be seen, and comments made on the Council’s planning site here.

New Care Home Gets Green Light

A new care home off West Common Road has been approved by the planning inspector after a successful appeal by the operators.

The plans are for a 60 bed facility on the old Hayes Common Bowls Club site behind Burton Pynsent House. The proposals were originally refused by the council who were concerned about the loss of Urban Open Space and highways issues among other factors. However the inspector last week overruled the decision.

The plans also include a new base for CASPA, a local charity working with autistic children, young people and their families.

It is not clear what impact the decision may have on separate plans, by another operator, for a care home on the old ‘Stevensons Heating’ site also in West Common Road. though in their submissions the operators of the appealed scheme cited a significant shortfall in care home beds over the next ten years.

Phone Mast Plans For Pickhurst Lane

An application to erect a phone mast in Pickhurst Lane has been made to the council.

The 56-day consultation by Telefonica has been submitted for plans to place a single pole mast with a number of external antennae in the forecourt of the petrol station at the bottom of Station Approach, by the entrance/exit on Pickhurst Lane. At 20 metres in height the mast will be roughly twice the height of the surrounding buildings.

As your ward councillors we have been content to see masts erected in the ward in the right places – after all, most of us use mobile ‘phones – but we have also opposed these where we’ve felt the siting of either the mast and/or ground infrastructure is inappropriate.

However, the height and number of antennae both proposed and planned in future is significant in this case and, despite our recent requests of the applicants, we have not yet seen any information about which alternative sites had been considered in this case.

The application can be seen here.

New Plans for Former Stevenson Heating Site

A care home operator has come forward with plans to develop the former Stevenson’s Heating site in West Common Road.

Previous proposals in 2018 for retirement housing on the plot had eventually been granted planning permission last Spring for a 28 apartment sheltered housing scheme (reduced to 25 units a few months later). Unfortunately in the wake of the pandemic the plans could not progress.

The new scheme, which is very similar in design to its 2018 predecessor, now envisages a 50 bed care home. Residents can comment on the plans here.

Redevelopment of Coney Hall Landmark Moves a Step Closer

Proposals to redevelop the site currently occupied by Wickes have now been submitted to the Council as a formal planning application.

The plans, which will see the current Art Deco façade renovated and extended and the rear of the site redeveloped, will comprise flats, two new retail spaces and a unit for community use. After consultations with your local councillors, the scheme now includes the relocating and reopening of the public toilets.

There has been no indication yet when any development would commence, should it gain planning permission.

The developers had circulated their ideas locally late last year and the proposals, available here are now open to formal consultation with the Council accepting views from residents until at least 19th February.

Local Residents Rail Against Lineside Development

A five storey block of flats proposed for a site behind Bourne Way and Prickley Wood has generated a large number of objections from local residents.

The development would be on the site of the Bromley & Blackheath Harriers’ clubhouse behind Bourne Way, next to the railway line, comprising 36 flats. Although the site itself is around 2.5 metres below street level, the top storey would still extend above the rooflines of neighbouring houses. However, the developer points out that the nearest residences in Bourne Way and Prickley Wood are more than 30 metres (100 ft) away, and those in Saville Row 18 metres (60ft).

Concerns have also been raised about the adequacy of the current access road, which runs between 58 Bourne Way and Woodgrange Court; a traffic light system is proposed for this route.

As your local councillors we have also been approached by many residents mainly objecting to the plans. At the time of writing we are awaiting a committee date, though the meeting is currently expected in late February or March.

Ward Boundaries Are Changing

The boundaries of the borough’s 22 wards will be changing with effect from the next council elections, scheduled for May 2022.

The number of councillors across the borough will also be reduced slightly to 58 from 60 in the final map published by the Local Government Boundary Commission last week.

Hayes and Coney Hall ward will remain but Hayesford Park, to the north of Mead Way, will move to Bromley Town Ward, while Keston village will join the ward in the south in echoes of the old Hayes and Keston ward that existed before the 1980s. The ward will continue to be represented by three councillors.

The recommendations are expected to be approved by Parliament next spring.

Serving Hayes, Coney Hall, West Wickham Common and Hayesford Park