Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

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michael
Posts: 1253
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by michael » 2 Feb 2019 07:24

You can download minutes of the preliminary meeting and the project scope document from Discourse Architecture via https://twitter.com/d__architecture/sta ... 57888?s=19

They are looking to set up the first public meeting at the end of February.

From the project scope document:
Our principle concerns are:
* High levels of atmospheric pollution being generated by heavier than anticipated traffic. This is an unacceptable health hazard, to which children, the frail and elderly are especially vulnerable.
* The poor quality of external space, which is dominated by busy roads, narrow pavements, large areas of under-utilized surface parking and inadequate landscaping
* The lack of trees or other soft landscaping of a quality or scale sufficient to mitigate the negative effect of traffic and large car parks
* The lack of integration between the site and adjoining residential neighbourhoods. This is exacerbated by the barrier effect of roads around the site - creating an environment for vehicles, rather than local residents and people using the area
* The bland quality of the place, increasingly drained of local character and identity. The ubiquitous style of retail and commercial buildings, not necessarily bad in itself, but pieces of an anonymous grey corporate jigsaw that is making everywhere the same and nowhere specific
Lots more information in the scope document and minutes.

I hope that this can lead to a positive approach to community engagement in the development of Bell Green, with a long-term vision for the development of the area.

Growsydenham
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Joined: 27 Jan 2018 09:23
Location: sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by Growsydenham » 3 Feb 2019 09:38

Thank you for sharing these. I like and support the emphasis on shifting the use of Bell Green from big-box retail to housing.

However, it does strike me that there's a high degree of uncertainty over what may be very good ideas (eg who owns all the land), so understandably this could take a while to come to fruition. So while I'd welcome houses at Bell Green, I wouldn't want to see good, viable housing projects ready to happen now elsewhere in the area get rejected on the grounds that housing may be possible at Bell Green in the longer-term.

JGD
Posts: 452
Joined: 5 Feb 2018 11:39
Location: Lewisham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by JGD » 4 Feb 2019 01:22

First, Discourse are promoting a "Master Plan" and now Michael from FohSoc is advocating an "Urban Renewal Plan".

Guys you are getting super-excited and overheated over your overblown and frankly meaningless buzz phrases.

And if any such concepts had real meaning - it was in in the mid 1990's when the redevelopment of the entire retail park site became an evident reality.

Not now. And your alliance with SydSoc in this last gasp effort to either halt the demolition of the gas-holders or to have Discourse re-imagine the gas-holders as some form of socially affordable housing is not grounded in any economic reality.

Michael, unlike the issue over AIO - you and FohSoc are way off your patch.

And for the record "Aspirations" has a very different meaning from "Commitment" or "Committed".
michael wrote:
2 Feb 2019 07:24
Lots more information in the scope document and minutes.

I hope that this can lead to a positive approach to community engagement in the development
The community consultation element is listed as an "Aspiration" in Discourse's published document. This is far from a firm commitment - in fact it oozes weasel words. And from a group that has no representation, consultation or accountability in the neighbourhood of the development. The real neighbours of the gas-holders will wonder why Discourse's document was written in mid-December 2018 and yet your statement has the earliest consultation date being set at the end of February 2019. They will not be impressed by the closed meeting conducted by SydSoc and Discourse in recent weeks at which many members of SydSoc were invited to attend but not a single near-neighbour resident who was not a SydSoc member was invited.

Your stated desire for a positive approach to community engagement requires a clearer commitment to openness and frankly for SydSoc and FohSoc to abandon any putative claim to have any valid leadership on this site's development.

Furthermore your narrative of this absence of consultation and accountability being an obstacle to development combined with your characterisation of it being an inter-ward dispute does not become you or FohSoc.

I am reminded that Lewisham committed in 2018 to conduct a study of how appropriate it is for Civic Societies to engage in planning matters in locations where they have no voice, zero representation and zero accountability.

LawriePark

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by LawriePark » 4 Feb 2019 09:40

Eloquently put, JGD, I salute you! Michael has a lot of questions to answer.

michael
Posts: 1253
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by michael » 4 Feb 2019 13:38

JGD,
I don't see this as a ward dispute although I would dispute the ward boundaries as the only boundaries that matter for an issue as big as Bell Green or Forest Hill town centre.

I and the Forest Hill Society are happy to lend our support to groups in neighbouring areas where there is common interest and we can help them develop for the benefit of our member, the Forest Hill community (wherever that begins and ends) and the slightly wider community. For this reason Forest Hill Society have expressed views on Honor Oak Rec, have assisted where we can when residents of Southwark and Lewisham on the Sydenham wished to set up a neighbourhood forum, and before looking at setting up a neighbourhood forum in Honor Oak spoke to the local assembly in Crofton Park to get their views (which were that they wanted nothing to do with our ideas and they wanted to set up their own Neighbourhood forum which we are only peripherally involved with).

As with Sydenham Ridge it is not my intention to impose a 'Forest Hill' policy on Bell Green. The people who live in Bellingham and Perry Vale wards - closest to the area need to have the loudest say in any proposals, and I will do everything I can to make that happen (as will others living in or representing the local area).

'Urban Renewal' is the term used at the top of the scope document that I linked to. We have had similar in place in Forest Hill (a 2004 document produced by the council after lobbying by Sydenham Society - before FHSoc existed). I don't think it is entirely coincidental that FHSoc was formed a couple of years after the plans championed by Syd Soc. If something similar happens in Bell Green then that would be tremendous and I would happily offer any assistance I can to the formation of a Bell Green Society or Bellingham Society. There shouldn't be a need for any dispute or turf wars - I just want to make things better in the local area (and that includes anything within a few hundred meters of SE23). This is not just what I want to do but what I'm constitutionally asked to do by members of the Forest Hill Society.
Forest Hill Society Constitution wrote:2. OBJECTIVES
The Society is established for the public benefit for the following purposes in the area comprising Forest Hill (SE23) in the London Borough of Lewisham, adjoining parts of SE26, and any other relevant adjoining areas, which area shall hereinafter be referred to as “the area of benefit”.
a) to stimulate public interest and to promote civic pride in the area of benefit whilst maintaining a policy of inclusion and equality of opportunity within the Society
b) to promote high standards of planning, architecture, sustainability and services in the area of benefit
c) to secure the conservation and enhancement of amenities and features of public interest in the area of benefit
Full document: https://www.freewebs.com/foresthill/FHS ... tution.pdf

FH Soc has never claimed exclusive representation of 'the area of benefit' whether inside or outside the SE23 postcode. Apart from anything else I would argue that the ward councillors are the only people who can claim to represent the area(s). Civic and Amenity Societies can only help to improve the area as best they can but should never claim to be the exclusive voice of their members, their postcode, or other surrounding areas - but they should be allowed to express opinions when they feel they are appropriate.
JGD wrote:
4 Feb 2019 01:22
...Discourse's document was written in mid-December 2018 and yet your statement has the earliest consultation date being set at the end of February 2019. They will not be impressed by the closed meeting conducted by SydSoc and Discourse in recent weeks at which many members of SydSoc were invited to attend but not a single near-neighbour resident who was not a SydSoc member was invited.
Yes, these things take time. Nothing can happen in late December, a single meeting took place in January to get things off the ground and coordinate with local councillors (obviously including Bellingham councillors) and local amenity societies with some interest and membership in the area. Setting up the next meeting - a public meeting for February seems like a logical next step and a logical timeline. I would be disappointed if such a meeting did not take place in Bellingham ward and was advertised widely in the ward as well as on local online forums used by residents. I would also hope that some residents closer to Bell Green than I am help to steer this process as well as their councillors.

However, I'm certainly aware of concerns and hopes expressed by members of the Forest Hill Society and others in the immediate vicinity of Bell Green about traffic, about the need to better utilise some of the space, and opinions in favour and against the demolition of the gas works. I'm happy to be involved in setting up this project but don't see myself or the Forest Hill Society 'leading' it, but I hope that we can continue to feed into the process and encourage innovative thinking about an area that needs a strategy that is not set in the 1990s but thinks about the issues today and in the future.

Pally
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Location: Sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by Pally » 4 Feb 2019 18:22

Perhaps it would be best to put aside the anger at apparent lack of open communication on what os happening and when and move into taking part in the process that is apparently being set up! Michael gives an excellent, genuine and clear explanation of the process taking place and the FH Soc part in that!

As someone not directly involved but certainly interested as a mid/lower Sydenham resident , my observation would be that if information on what is happening was communicated more clearly and more regularly using ALL available resources INCLUDING this forum by Councillors and all civic societies there would be less potential for misunderstanding and anger!!

I am aware that some involved in civic societies have decided that the minority who post inappropriately are reason enough to ignore the majority on this forum who do not, but that is such a pity!!! Sadly I suspect that no one will actually try to change that status quo!

Regarding Bellingham, thankyou Michael for your response.

John H
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Location: Sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by John H » 6 Feb 2019 10:46

Unless and until something is done to sort out the road layout Bell Green (formerly Sydenham Green) will remain a polluted nightmare of a location.

The traffic issues are solvable without restricting access. Unfortunately you have local narrow minded politicians in the way.

TredownMan
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Joined: 28 Sep 2017 15:38
Location: Sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by TredownMan » 27 Feb 2019 09:13

I’m very enthused by the idea of turning car parks into housing. Replacing big box retail with housing is what cities should be doing and what’s happening on Old Kent Road.

However I’m keen to understand, how does this masterplan get reconciled with the fact this is private land? Have we seen much to suggest the owners of the various sites included want to sell?

I can see the risk that the gas holders are preserved indefinitely based on a aspiration that the entire site is redeveloped, which would be unrealistic if the owners of the land have no interest.

John H
Posts: 215
Joined: 17 Aug 2017 18:15
Location: Sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by John H » 28 Feb 2019 09:20

TredownMan wrote:
27 Feb 2019 09:13
I’m very enthused by the idea of turning car parks into housing. Replacing big box retail with housing is what cities should be doing and what’s happening on Old Kent Road.

However I’m keen to understand, how does this masterplan get reconciled with the fact this is private land? Have we seen much to suggest the owners of the various sites included want to sell?

I can see the risk that the gas holders are preserved indefinitely based on a aspiration that the entire site is redeveloped, which would be unrealistic if the owners of the land have no interest.
The net effect of such a policy would be an increase in traffic on the roads as those people, now housed, have to travel further afield for their shopping. However... designing these supermarkets so that there is housing above them is a good policy... so long as you do not copy the model at Catford.

TredownMan
Posts: 147
Joined: 28 Sep 2017 15:38
Location: Sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by TredownMan » 28 Feb 2019 09:44

I agree - some of the major supermarkets are rebuilding stores along this model. A much better use of space and adds the benefit of an area being “lived in” rather than just warehousing.

While it would be nice to see housing at Bell Green, it does strike me this may be a long-term aspiration with some major hurdles, most obviously the wishes of the land owners.

What we all absolutely must avoid is a scenario where the aspiration of new housing at Bell Green at a future date is used as an excuse to oppose real, viable housing plans that are on the table now.

parker
Posts: 552
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Location: Sydenham Wells

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by parker » 28 Feb 2019 18:28

John H wrote:
6 Feb 2019 10:46
Unless and until something is done to sort out the road layout Bell Green (formerly Sydenham Green) will remain a polluted nightmare of a location.

The traffic issues are solvable without restricting access. Unfortunately you have local narrow minded politicians in the way.
IS there really that much traffic in Bell Green? What time of the day/week are we talking?

Yes, there are 2/3 sets of lights to get into either retail areas but can you honestly say traffic jams are a problem in this area? I haven’t seen it, maybe from Lidl in Southend Lane, is that where everyone is referring to?

Would you say there is more of a traffic issue in Bell Green than there is at Cobbs Corner/Westwood Hill/Kirkdale, I’d say not, yet we always talk about traffic in Bell Green over most other areas on this forum.

Ghlpc
Posts: 271
Joined: 2 Aug 2013 14:02

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by Ghlpc » 28 Feb 2019 19:41

parker wrote:
28 Feb 2019 18:28
John H wrote:
6 Feb 2019 10:46
Unless and until something is done to sort out the road layout Bell Green (formerly Sydenham Green) will remain a polluted nightmare of a location.

The traffic issues are solvable without restricting access. Unfortunately you have local narrow minded politicians in the way.
IS there really that much traffic in Bell Green? What time of the day/week are we talking?

Yes, there are 2/3 sets of lights to get into either retail areas but can you honestly say traffic jams are a problem in this area? I haven’t seen it, maybe from Lidl in Southend Lane, is that where everyone is referring to?

Would you say there is more of a traffic issue in Bell Green than there is at Cobbs Corner/Westwood Hill/Kirkdale, I’d say not, yet we always talk about traffic in Bell Green over most other areas on this forum.
Agree! I've always been baffled by this point people make all the time.

I live very near and use the Sainsburys and the retail park often, I wouldn't say traffic is a major problem.

John H
Posts: 215
Joined: 17 Aug 2017 18:15
Location: Sydenham

Re: Bell Green Urban Renewal Plan

Post by John H » 1 Mar 2019 00:42

Ghlpc wrote:
28 Feb 2019 19:41
parker wrote:
28 Feb 2019 18:28
John H wrote:
6 Feb 2019 10:46
Unless and until something is done to sort out the road layout Bell Green (formerly Sydenham Green) will remain a polluted nightmare of a location.

The traffic issues are solvable without restricting access. Unfortunately you have local narrow minded politicians in the way.
IS there really that much traffic in Bell Green? What time of the day/week are we talking?

Yes, there are 2/3 sets of lights to get into either retail areas but can you honestly say traffic jams are a problem in this area? I haven’t seen it, maybe from Lidl in Southend Lane, is that where everyone is referring to?

Would you say there is more of a traffic issue in Bell Green than there is at Cobbs Corner/Westwood Hill/Kirkdale, I’d say not, yet we always talk about traffic in Bell Green over most other areas on this forum.
Agree! I've always been baffled by this point people make all the time.

I live very near and use the Sainsburys and the retail park often, I wouldn't say traffic is a major problem.
You two must be away from Sydenham during daylight hours. The Bell Green area is constantly gridlocked. The failure to widen the road beneath the railway and the badly designed one way system are to blame. Easily remedied, of course, but the flat earth lobby ensures no steps are take to remedy bottlenecks in London generally but Lewisham especially.

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