The buildings of Norbury are undergoing a continual process of change, whether in its shop units, house extensions or developers building new homes or converting office blocks into flats. The four Residents Associations review the flow of planning applications through their Joint Planning Committee. The Committee decides whether the applications need to be discussed with neighbours, and whether objections should be submitted.
In recent months the Committee has for example:
· objected to the infringement of planning rules by the owner of the two Havana ‘cafes’ and also spoken against them at the Planning Sub-committee. The owner now has planning permission to reinstate proper shop fronts and to end shisha smoking.
· opposed the licence to Paddy Power to cover two units. The reasons were also explained at the Licensing Committee meeting considering the application. The Committee was in fact powerless to refuse because the police had no grounds for opposition relating to criminal activity associated with the existing betting shop.
The Committee welcomes some developments and therefore does not oppose them. e.g. the Antic pub proposal. In broad terms it welcomes the proposals for the former Norbury Police Station: conversion to flats with two non-residential units on the ground floor, and the replacement of the building at the rear by houses with gardens. It had a meeting on site with the developer and the architect in early June to discuss their emerging plans and has sent a follow-up letter with comments and requesting continuing dialogue in the period up the formal submission of their planning application.
There are many planning developments which we cannot influence. For example the former Government gave permitted development rights to house extensions up to a certain size and for the conversion of office blocks (like Astral and Windsor Houses) into flats without needing planning permission. The new Government has announced on the back of the Budget that there will be further categories of such rights. This will make it more difficult for the Council and residents to oppose or have conditions put on developments covered by such rights.
On 11 July members met with Peter Smith, the Council officer in charge of planning, Councillor Paul Scott, the Chair of the Planning Committee, and local Councillor Maggie Mansell, to discuss a wide range of issues and concerns with the planning process and its impact on Norbury. It was a very useful meeting in which we explored the limitations on the planners because of legislation, Government regulations and the Mayor of London’s Plan, as well as issues particularly affecting the Norbury area. A follow-up letter has been sent as part of continuing dialogue. In it we have stressed with reference to particular examples the need to carry out enforcement action against unauthorised planning developments, improvements to the information on the planning register website, ways to make public that discussions are underway on what is called pre-applications (before formal submission), concerns about the way Building Control operates, and the need for further protection of trees including groups of trees which help to provide visual amenity. The Committee has also drawn the Council’s attention to the proposal of Rauch City Church for a major development on the former Nat West sports ground just over the border in Merton.
The Council is in the process of making some changes to the Croydon Local Plan which sets outs its aims and policies for what the planning system is trying to achieve. The main driver forced upon it through the national and London wide policies: an increase in housing. The proposed Croydon changes will be subject to public consultation in the autumn. The Committee will be looking at what they mean for Norbury and will seek to ensure that Norbury is better protected.
The members of the Committee are: Brenda English and Conrad Thomas (Pollards Hill RA), Sean Creighton (Norbury Village RA), James Pedder (Norbury Green RA) and Winston Stewart and Samy Counder (Scotts Estates RA).
If you have concerns about planning matters or wish to become involved in the detailed work please contact the Committee members through their RA.
Note: Committee member Sean Creighton has written about the Rauch Church proposals in Croydon Citizen: http://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/churchs-vision-norbury-brought-tribulation-local-community.