Category Archives: Green Spaces

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.

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.

Hayes Farm Development Plans Allowed on Appeal

Last week the appeal inspector allowed the planning application to build nine houses on the site of the farmyard and stables at Hayes Street Farm. The application had been refused by the council last year after a campaign by local residents backed by the Hayes Village Association and your local councillors, but following a public inquiry – held at our suggestion – the inspector allowed the plans, noting that the site has been previously developed and that it he felt it was not detrimental to either the conservation areas or the openness of the Green Belt.

We know that many (though certainly not all) residents will be disappointed in the outcome, but there is little scope for the council to appeal this decision. The only available route would be a judicial review which can only be brought if the inspector has erred in law or the process was materially flawed. From our discussion so far with council officers, there appear to be no such grounds.

During the hearing the applicants had, wrongly, suggested that the Council had misled the inspector over Housing Land Supply – a point which the inspector later ruled was irrelevant. However, he still ultimately found in their favour.

We will now be watching closely should the applicants attempt to modify their plans, as well as being vigilant for any further deterioration of the remaining open farmland.

Coney Hall Tennis Courts – What Next?

We have received messages from residents, and seen the conversations on social media about the state of the tennis courts in Coney Hall Recreation Ground. We thought it would be useful to set out the current state of play oConey Hall Tennis Courts (2007)n the issue.

The last manager pulled out of running the tennis courts some years ago after repeated vandalism and thefts. The council left the nets up anyway but eventually a local child became tangled up in the nets and so the Council’s insurers advised their removal.

We have been making enquiries into possible solutions, possibly including using more robust equipment, but of course such ideas will have to work financially. In any case we will need to work closely with the Friends of Coney Hall Park, who do sterling work looking after the park and who would want to be closely involved in any plans.

We will of course keep residents updated if and when things develop.

Update: Travellers on Coney Hall Recreation Ground

(Photo: Ward Security)
(Photo: Ward Security)

Travellers have turned up in Coney Hall Recreation Ground. They appeared last night and seem to have gained access via Layhams Road, where some wooden posts along the edge of the park had been mysteriously removed prior to their arrival. It now appears unlikely that these were the same travellers that had been evicted from the car park at West Wickham station.

A notice has been served for the travellers to leave by 8:30 pm tonight. Police and council security personnel will, as usual, be in attendance.

Travellers_CHRec_20140929_141300 sml
The travellers on Monday afternoon

 

 

UPDATE 30/9/14 11:45am: All the travellers have been moved on. Council officers report that although there has been some minor ‘littering’, there is no fly-tipping to deal with and therefore the site will return to normal use very quickly.  The Ward Security team and colleagues are in the process of monitoring the travellers as they leave the Borough and are also at other local parks etc to deter any further incursions locally.

Have They Done Enough At Hayes Court?

Revised proposals have been submitted for the former trade union headquarters at Hayes Court in West Common Road.

London Square hope to restore the old mansion at Hayes Court and build new houses on the site. They have now removed one of the four contentious houses on the west of the site (and rearranged the layout), close to the boundary with Hayes Common, as well as making changes to the hard and soft landscaping features. The increase in ‘built footprint’ has now reduced from 48% to 28%, and the developers have sought to address the concerns expresses by the planning committee last time, when the original plans were refused because of the effects on the openness of the site and on the common itself.

The proposed restoration of the listed house are of a high quality and the later additions to the site probably won’t be missed, but any form of new build here will be a sensitive issue.

The full plans can be found here and the public consultation period ends on 23rd July. Please also let us know what you think, as we will be making representations to the committee on your behalf.

The current Hayes Court site
The current Hayes Court site

The new proposals submitted this month
The new proposals submitted this month

Friends of Well Wood Scoop Award

Congratulations are due to the Friends of Well Wood in Coney Hall who, last week, picked up a London RE:LEAF Tree and Woodland Award.

ivy_leavesThe Council’s Community Forest Development Officer writes:

“The ward was The Tree Council’s Trees and Learning Award for involving under 16 year olds in the transformation of Well Wood through sustainable tree-related educational and planting programmes; increasing knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the environment by the children and young people who have participated; and showing evidence of sustainable environmental improvements.

With 7 year olds designing a woodland trail for families, scouts planting hundreds of trees, and teachers empowered to use the woodland habitat in their teaching, “Transforming Well Wood” is a project inspired, driven and delivered by the local community. Local school children have attended interactive woodland workshops to learn about their local woodland. The creation of a new walking trail with a bright, colourful trail logo designed by the children gives families a starting point to explore the woodland using the improved paths, signage and entrances for easier buggy and pedestrian access. The thinned and coppiced woodland has increased the structural diversity and improved the ground flora for wildlife to thrive.”

As your councillors we would add that it’s a feather in the cap for the wider scheme of ‘friends’ groups in our parks, woodlands and other open spaces – an initiative that Bromley has pioneered over many years.

Hayes Court Plans – Committee Date Set

The proposals for new housing and the refurbishment of the house at Hayes Court have been listed for a hearing at the Development Control Committee on Thursday 8th April.

Council officer have recommended refusal of the application on grounds mainly relating to the impact on the open spaces both within the site, the adjoining common and wider conservation area, for example:

Hayes Court Proposals Apr14– ‘overdevelopment of this semi-rural site’ leading to ‘inappropriate suburbanisation of the site and harmful impact on … the Urban Open Space’

– the new detached dwellings would have a ‘detrimental impact on the character and setting of the Statutory Listed Building’ (the original house) and would ‘erode the open nature of the site’.

The committee report (pdf 743Kb) and full application papers are available on the Council website.

Hayes Court Development – Committee Date Awaited

The planning application for the old trade union offices at Hayes Court was submitted at the end of last year.

The proposals are to convert the old house into eight apartments and to build sixteen houses – seven detached and nine ‘mews’ style – in the surrounding grounds. This is a change to the plans seen at the public exhibition where the plans encompassed four detached houses, a terrace of four townhouses and eight mews houses. Another change is that a fourth large detached house is proposed alongside those already planned to the west of the main house, next to the boundary with the common.

The application, because of its size will automatically go before a planning committee, though a date is yet to be set. It can be seen at https://searchapplications.bromley.gov.uk/onlineapplications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=MX9S6ZBTJX000