On 30th March 2011 an application was lodged for an extension of time for implementation of consent granted on appeal in 2006 for a 1/2/3 storey block of 39 flats with 32 parking spaces. This application involved no request for changes to the original scheme but now appears to be still pending decision. In May 2011 the developer held a public consultation exercise at the Beckenham Halls with a view to a revised application to reconfigure the site. It was suggested that by adding a fourth storey the required number of flats could be provided but it would be possible to create a more open aspect, retaining more trees and allowing more light to penetrate the site. In general there were comments that a revised layout might be more acceptable, though some residents of Church Avenue and The Drive considered that the fourth storey would be intrusive and overlook their rear gardens. A revised application was received by the Council on 1st July and this was based on the plans exhibited during the consultation exercise but with limited revisions that could be accommodated as a result of views expressed by local residents and local businesses. Undoubtedly, some residents will take the view that no development should be permitted on the site but we need to understand that there is an extant appeal consent so there is little doubt that development of some kind will take place and in these circumstances changes to create a more open appearance might be considered the lesser of two evils.
The application for extension of time for work to start on the original scheme was given permission at a Plans-Sub-Committee on 24th November 2011 but decision was deferred on the application for the revised development scheme submitted in July 2011. However, on 22nd December, the applicant registered an appeal against the Council’s non-determination of the application and Members must now consider whether to contest the appeal. The application was returned to a Plans Sub Committee on 19th January 2012 with the recommendation that the applicant be invited to withdraw the appeal, in which case permission will be granted subject to the prior completion of a legal agreement. However, before any discussion at the meeting on 19th January 2012 the Chair explained that, since the case was now subject to appeal, jurisdiction for decision had now passed to the Planning Inspectorate and the LBB no longer had the powers to determine whether or not this application should be permitted. The only decision that the Plans Committee could take during the meeting was whether or not the Council should contest the appeal and, should they decide to contest, this would have to be on the basis of their probable grounds for refusal had this been their decision whilst still within their jurisdiction. Urged by two of our Ward Councillors, the decision was taken to contest the appeal.