What’s happening?

NOTE: What follows is a matter of opinion which you may or may not agree with.

A firm of developers, financed by hedge funds, the Hadley Property Group together with Clarion Housing have bought the Blenheim Shopping Centre and the multistorey carpark from Bromley Council. They intend to demolish it all and replace it with 4 tower blocks, of up to 18 (eighteen) storeys high. This will mostly be residential, some retail space, and only 24 parking spaces.

Here’s a model which gives an idea of the scale of what is being proposed: (Not official CGI)

Why haven’t I heard about it?

Good question. There was some consultation and a few open days, but many people don’t really seem to be aware of the plans.

What’s wrong with the proposal?

In our opinion, it would completely destroy the character of Penge, our home village. The towers will take all the light from some of the surrounding flats and houses and put parts of the high street into shadow. The proposed 18 storey block will be an eyesore, visible for miles around, and destroy the character of the High Street.

Tower blocks always bring problems, which is why 12-storey Kent Tower and Surrey Tower were taken down in 2001. Once one set of towers goes in, more are bound to follow and soon Penge will be like Croydon and Lewisham. Not even our parks and green spaces are safe from developers.

We will also probably lose the shops we need: Although Iceland may return eventually, Wilko and Peacocks will almost certainly be lost for good.

To make matters worse, there will be no new doctors’ surgeries, no additional public transport, and no extra police or fire services, despite a projected increase of 750+ new residents. Right now there are not enough dentists, and the waiting list is 6 months. There’s also not enough childcare provision, and nurseries are closing down because of the high costs. No extra facilities of any sort will be provided for the massively increased population!

Can Bromley Council help to prevent the development?

Not really – they probably want it to go ahead as it helps them to fulfil their housing targets.

Can it be stopped?

Yes, if we all pull together, lobby our elected representatives, and put in objections to the planning application. (That’s the most critical part, and we will provide guidance on this website to make it easy for you to do so.) Orpington, which was faced with a similar grossly inappropriate development, was able, by creating a storm of protest, to force the developers withdraw their proposal, and we can do the same.

But don’t we need more housing?

We do, but not like this. There are much better ways to create homes. The housing committee at the London Assembly found that tall buildings are not the answer to London’s housing needs and should not be encouraged outside of a few designated and carefully managed areas.

Towers are relatively cheap to build so the developer makes a lot of profit at the beginning.

But they are extremely expensive to run and rental/service charges go higher and higher. High above ground level is very cold, and heating bills are going to be massive. Which is why they aren’t going to provide affordable housing, and won’t help homeless people.

Big profits for the developer, but the residents and local people continue to pay a high price – both money and quality of life.

How about local businesses? Wouldn’t having more residents be good for them?

Possibly in theory, but the reality is likely to be very different. Commercial rental charges in these towers are always very high, and premises are often empty for years. The extra people will not arrive until construction is complete, which Hadley estimates will take a full two years – many local businesses will not survive the disruption caused by the building process.

Penge is such a nice area at the moment that it attracts shoppers from far afield. For example, people who used to shop in Croydon and Lewisham, now come to Penge. These people will no longer be able to park, and won’t want to come to a noisy, ugly place disrupted by huge construction vehicles. And with no Iceland, Wilko or Peacocks, there’s little reason to come shopping anyway.

For all these reasons, local businesses will lose out and find it even harder to carry on for the next 2-3 years. The people who now regularly shop in Penge will change their habits, and are unlikely to come back – especially to the dark and gloomy place it will be if these huge towers go ahead.

Hadley have a track record of forcing through developments against the wishes of many local residents.. Click here for examples.