Prominent Victorian house doomed to be demolished, January 2022

The final decision will be made by councillors at a planning committee meeting at 7pm on Thursday 20th January 2022.   

Situated on the corner of Downsbridge Road, at a prominent location near the brow of the hill between Beckenham and Shortlands, Coleridge House at 79 and 79a Bromley Road is a distinctive building from the late-Victorian era and one of the last remaining grand villa houses that once lined Bromley Road.  

The three-storey building is run by Riverside Housing Association (which also runs Calverley Close on Southend Road) and currently accommodates 12 self-contained social housing flats for the elderly and an adjoining, four-bedroom single family house (79a).  The £12M development involves the demolition of the entire building, replacing it with a five-storey block of 27 flats much bigger than the existing building, and an underground car park.  The proposed scheme comprises 5 No. one-bedroom, 17 No. two-bedroom and 5 No. 3-bedroom flats, providing space for up to 95 occupants.  

The Victorian Society has said, “Victorian villas such as this may be considered fairly common nationally, but within the local context, it is a rare survival. The house has both architectural and historical interest as a building representative of the growth of the area in the late 19th century, and as such, should be considered a local landmark and a non-designated heritage asset and its loss would harm the significance of the building and the contribution it makes to the local area.”  It goes on to say,“The two buildings in combination retain a vestige of the formerly leafy character of the area, and the loss of one would erode this character. If permitted, this could set a precedent for the piecemeal demolition of similar surviving larger 19th/20th century houses in the area.”

Bromley Council has committed to be carbon neutral by 2029 and, considering the UK’s national carbon reduction targets, we believe that retaining, refurbishing or converting existing buildings should always be preferable over demolition.

It is also very disappointing to see in their Affordable Housing Viability Statement that the developer, like many others involved in residential schemes in Beckenham in recent years, doesn’t include any affordable housing provision.  According to planning application documents, the smallest one-bedroom flat in the £12M development is expected to market for £325,000.  The developer’s claim that they can’t afford to provide affordable housing in the scheme, is unacceptable in our view.

The planning officer’s report can be found here

A list of the councillors who’ll be making the final decision at the meeting can be found here. 

Flats proposed on top of Barclays Bank, Beckenham, June 2016

3 Beckenham Rd Front
Beckenham Road elevation

A recent planning application has been made to build three additional storeys of flats on top of the existing Barclays Bank on Beckenham Road, near to the war memorial.

The application incorporates a scheme for two additional residential storeys that was granted consent more than three years ago, but which expired on 10th April this year, 13/00407/FULL1 , plus a fifth storey penthouse apartment.
(Note: the drawings also indicate an unconnected scheme for the site at 436 Croydon Road, currently a temporary furniture showroom.  This has not been built and the Council are understood to be investigating the current planning status)
CCARA has written to the Council, objecting to the application and expressing the view that the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.  Whilst the Association does not have any major objection to the four-storey scheme previously consented, we consider the newly-proposed fifth storey in the current application an unwelcome addition, for the following reasons:
1. Most buildings in the area are either two or three storeys high, with a few being four storeys.  Allowing a five-storey development would set an undesirable precedent with regard to other sites in the immediate vicinity that hold the potential to be redeveloped in the future.
2. The site is in a sensitive location, right on the edge of the Beckenham High Street Conservation Area and sitting opposite the Grade 2-listed Odeon Cinema and the Post Office, a locally listed building.
3. The design of the building would dominate this important junction in the town and dwarf the adjacent Victorian houses on Beckenham Road.
4. The wave-shaped profile of the penthouse roof results in a fifth storey that would be nearly 5 metres high, further accentuating the visual height of the building.  The elevation drawings suggest the building would be nearly 17 metres high, at its highest point.
5.   No indication appears to be given regarding the materials, colour or finish of the cladding.  The presentation of the drawings seems to suggest a light-coloured render to the third and fourth storeys and a profiled metal roof to the penthouse.  Both materials would be inappropriate, detracting from the importance of the existing key buildings at the junction.
6. Assuming employees at the bank would still permitted to park their cars in the car park at the rear of the building, there would seem to be an inadequate number of parking spaces overall.
If you wish to view the proposal, click on this link, 16/02218/FULL1 , where you can also submit your own comments.

Tonight join in with “Ride Safe, Ride Bright”

Friday 20th April 2012 – Ride starts at 7.00 pm at Beckenham Green, Near St Georges Church.

Ride Safe, Ride Bright is a 5 mile cycling event to make people more aware of safety issues of Cycling at night, in particular encouraging all cyclists to be more contrastingly luminous and with good working and bright flashing lights on their bikes.

We hope you can join us on the ride.