Tuesday, 13 December 2016

New Proposal For Victoria House

As people may have heard, Home Group - the owners of Victoria House at the North Cheam crossroads have submitted a new development proposal for the site.

Whilst it may seem like good news that the existing eyesore may soon be replaced, sadly the new proposal is almost exactly the same as the recent one in that it still only has 50 car spaces for 90 residential units (1, 2 and 3 bedroom) and is 10 storeys high which many local people feel is far too tall for the area.

The tall 3-towers design of the building still looks the same which many felt last time to be completely wrong for the area as well as being too tall and out of keeping with the art-deco design on the other three corners of the cross roads and other buildings in the area.

Given the strength of feeling against the proposal last time, the WPRA committee has agreed to work with the Chapra RA (Church Hill and Priory Road Residents' Association) on a joint petition to object to the new proposal. We are also leafleting residents local to the site.

As this is a new proposal, the previous comments/objections (or letters of support) are no longer relevant and only comments specifically based on this new proposal will be taken into account by the planning department.

If you would like to object, comment on, or even write in support of the proposal, the planning application number is A2016/75951 which can be accessed on www.sutton.gov.uk, or by using the following direct link.

You can also write directly to:
The London Borough of Sutton Planning Division
24 Denmark Rd
Surrey SM5 2JG
Remember to quote planning number A2016/75951.

Petition sheets are being held in Steve's Card Shop on the North West corner of the crossroads - opposite Victoria House if you's like to go in and sign the petition.

We also have a small number on volunteers out delivering leaflets and also door knocking to gather petition signatures. Please contact me (Simon Densley - wpra96@hotmail.com) if you'd like to join them and I'll get you some leaflets or petition sheets and allocate you some roads to do. We need to be quick though - the deadline is at the beginning of January.

This is not a knee-jerk reaction against any local development. Members might remember we supported the previous Stonegate Homes design (left) as a compromise we could live with. Whilst it was a bit bigger than we would have liked it was generally in keeping with local art-deco design and it had enough parking space for residents plus extra space for shoppers during the day and then for visitors in the evening. This new Home Group 'triple tower block' design will cause parking chaos in the whole area as well as not fitting in at all with the surrounding area.

We hope that with two local residents' associations working together, our combined voices will be heard loud and clear. Yes we want the existing building removed, but we want it replaced with something that will enhance the quality of the local area - not something that in 10 years time might be as hated as much as the exiting Victoria House is now.

Please make your voice heard by emailing or writing to Sutton's planning department and please feel free to get in touch to either deliver leaflets or to knock on doors to get petition signatures.

This is why we have residents associations. Lets make use of it and do all we can to ensure that development in our area is beneficial to the area, not detrimental.

Monday, 4 July 2016

AGM 2016

This year' s Annual General Meeting will be held at Christ Church with St.Philip, Ruskin Drive on Wednesday 7th July 2016 commencing at 7:00pm. PLEASE NOTE this meeting will take place in the church congregation area and not in one of the halls. Please make every effort to attend this meeting as it is the most appropriate time to comment on any issue that you have or could affect you. We look forward to seeing you there.

Agenda as follows:

Worcester Park Residents' Association

AGM Agenda

Date: Thursday 7th July 2016
Christ Church with St Philip – corner Cheam Common Road and Ruskin Drive Worcester Park,  KT4 8LG – in the church itself
Time: 7:00pm

1.            Welcome and introductions.

2.            Apologies.

3.            Minutes of last AGM (15th July 2015).

4.            Matter arising from the minutes not included elsewhere on the agenda.

5.            Committee reports: Chair, Membership, Treasurer.

6.            Christmas Late Night.

7.            Local Issues for the WPRA.

8.            Questions from the floor (to Committee and/or Councillors).

9.            Election of Officers.

10.          Election of Committee.

11.          Membership fee (proposal for membership fee to become £2 per household).

12.          Any Other Business.

13.          Close.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Flats Block Previous Plans

At our public Committee Meeting on Tuesday 23rd February, a number of important local issues were discussed. The draft minutes can be seen here.

One issue that raised serious concern was the recent planning application to extend 2-4 Green Lane, the old Bank Chambers by adding an extra story and converting it into 5 flats. The owners of the building were recently granted planning permission on appeal to convert it into a place of worship, ruling against the majority of the local community very worried about making the parking and traffic problems in the immediate area even worse. The WPRA had helped gather nearly 8,000 petition signatures and almost 1,000 letters of objection were also sent.

Whist it was thought likely that the plan to convert the building into flats would mean the plans for a Place Of Worship had been abandoned, some felt that the building could be extended and then afterwards the permission for a place of worship could be utilised, meaning an even bigger place of worship on the site.

The WPRA Chairman, Simon Densley agreed to contact local councillors with these concerns and see if anything could be done to prevent this situation. Simon Contacted Cllr Arthur Hookway with the following list of questions to be put to the council legal department or relevant council officers:
  1. Does the granting of permanent permission for the site to be used as a place of worship require an entirely new planning application which can be granted or denied by the planning committee or is the decision completely dependent on the usage according to the conditions set in the granted approval in May 2015?
  2. Is the granting of permanent permission in 2019 automatic if no conditions are breached, or does it require some demonstration of the site being used according to the planning permission sought and granted, together with having fulfilled all conditions.
  3. If permanent permission is granted in May 2019, which of the conditions placed on the granted application will still apply and which may be lifted?
  4. Is it possible to make it a condition of receiving planning permission to extend the building, that the permission for a place of worship be revoked?
  5. If no effort is made to develop the building into a place of Worship, is planning permission automatically revoked for this development after a period of time? If so how long?
  6. How much development would need to be done in order to avoid such permission being automatically revoked, and could be covered by the early work of redeveloping the site as flats?
  7. Is there any way we can ensure the scenario as set out above cannot occur?
Cllr Hookway organised a meeting with council planning officers to be attended by Simon and also Cllr Richard Marston.

The meeting proved fruitful as Council officers explained what could and could not happen in relation to this scenario. In Summary:
  • After the temporary permission for a Place of Worship comes to an end in May 2019, an entirely new planning application would need to be submitted by the applicant which would be subject to the same scrutiny and considerations as any other planning application. There would be no automatic granting of permanent permission.
  • If the applicant has not demonstrated the use of the site as a Place of Worship within the conditions set by the appeal decision, there would be no precedent to grant permanent permission and the applicant would be very unlikely to gain anything more than another 4 years' temporary permission with the same conditions.
  • Once development of the site into flats has commenced, the permission for the site as a Place of Worship is automatically lost.
So in short, there is no automatic permission for a Place of Worship granted after the 4-year temporary permission is up, regardless of whether the conditions are met - it would require a whole new planning application. Building flats on the site automatically revokes the permission to turn the site into a Place of Worship. So residents concerned at the possibility of the flats being a ruse to create a bigger Place of Worship will be glad to know this can not be the case.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Public Meeting

The WPRA is having a public committee meeting this evening (Tuesday 23rd February) at 7:30pm at Maple Lodge in The Hamptons. Members are reminded that there is no parking in the Hamptons so if you are driving you will need to park outside the Hamptons and walk to Maple Lodge.

Hope to see lots of you there.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

New Application For Flats At Bank Chambers

On the 2nd February, Sutton Council received a new application for 2-4 Green Lane, proposing to turn the building into flats.

The submission of the new plans suggests that the owners no longer wish to continue with the plan to turn this building into a place of worship.

It is very strange, considering how hard they fought to win planning permission against the wishes of most of the community that they have effectively just abandoned the plan. We must however be thankful that the Place of Worship idea, and more specifically the traffic congestion and parking problems that it would have created look to have been discontinued, whatever the reason.

The new plans for the development can be seen on the council website at: http://gis.sutton.gov.uk/FASTWEB/detail.asp?AltRef=A2016/73640&ApplicationNumber=73640&AddressPrefix=&submit1=Go

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Report on Extraordinary Police ward panel meeting.

Steve O'Connell AM, Simon Densley (Chair), Paul Scully MP
and Cllr Paul Wingfield addressing the meeting.
On Friday the 30th October an extraordinary Police Ward Panel Meeting was called to discuss the possible savings needing to be found from the police budget and the effects this might have on local Neighbourhood policing in Worcester Park.

The meeting in Maple Lodge was well attended by local residents with representatives from all parts of Worcester Park as well as Cllr Paul Wingfield. (Other councillors had long standing appointments and weren't able to be there.)

It was also attended by Steve O'Connell, our London Assembly member and Paul Scully, our local MP, both of whom spoke expansively and were able to provide some insight.

Steve O'Connell, being our representative to the London Mayor, told the meeting that "Boris would never simply sit back and allow the successful neighbourhood policing in London to simply be taken away."

Paul Scully promised that he would talk to the chancellor George Osborne about the issue and do all he could to safeguard our great local police here in Worcester Park.

The meeting resolved with everyone in agreement that the Chair, Simon Densley should write to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to express the views of the meeting and ask that the existing policing situation in Worcester Park be retained.

The main section of that letter, sent on the 17th November is set out here below:

Dear Sir Bernard, 
As chair of the Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Panel in Worcester Park, London Borough of Sutton, I recently called an extraordinary ward panel public meeting (Friday 30th October) to discuss concerns about possible changes to local policing in the face of reportedly expected budget cuts. This was attended by Paul Scully MP and Steve O'Connell AM. 
There are two things that came out of this meeting which I would like to make you aware of, plus the outcomes we would like to see locally.
First, the general conclusions drawn about what is going on was seen clearly as a negotiation in public with the opening position being every possibility on the table including the unpalatable ones.
We can see that the recent ominous headlines are a result of political game-playing by the Met and the politicians.  Essentially the pitch to the politicians is ‘make any more cuts and we’ll destroy your showcase policing policy and blame you’.  Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, the main losers will be us, the public. We note also that the HMIC has criticised the police in general for expensive budget failures.  Poor planning on future staffing, wasteful computer systems and a paranoid fear of the private sector. We accept that money needs to be saved and these failures should be addressed before taking the axe to PCSO’s and the success of Neighbourhood Policing. At the same time we asked our MP Paul Scully to raise our concerns with the Chancellor George Osborne to ensure that the police budget allows our Neighbourhood Policing system to continue in as unchanged a state as possible.
Second and more importantly, our existing Neighbourhood Policing setup in Worcester Park is an example of why it is so important not to lose our Neighbourhood Policing system.  Gary Weaving is our own dedicated PCSO in Worcester Park ward. Gary is well known in the local area and provides a valuable bridge between the police and the community. He knows the area well, he knows who the local trouble makers are, and he knows who the local vulnerable people are. He is always friendly and approachable and has a rapport with the local traders in the high street as well as local residents. We believe his understanding of the local community is a source of invaluable intelligence which has been instrumental in helping bring and keep crime down in Worcester Park. Additionally in 2013 Gary received a Met Police ‘environmental efficiency’ commendation award for his leading role in creating the ‘fishery’ in the wetland area of 'The Hamptons' part of the ward, something he did in his own time for the local community he wishes to serve.
It would not only be a terrible loss to our local community to lose PCSO Gary Weaving, that loss would be hugely disproportionate to any financial gain from such a change.
I have no doubt that the majority of London Borough wards have similar stories to tell and that our dedicated ward officers and PCSOs have proven themselves to be both an effective and efficient tool in reducing crime locally. In light of recent events in France, I would also argue that such officers are our intelligence foot soldiers and that without them, a vital source of information for our security services would be cut off.
As the Worcester Park ward panel we are resolved to ask as the highest priority, the retention of Gary Weaving as our dedicated ward PCSO. We would also ask that our current system of Neighbourhood Policing remain unchanged and lastly the retention of our Police Office at 154 Central Road, Worcester Park, KT4 8HH.
I look forward to a positive resolution to this current set of negotiations, which will see both sides take a sensible position bringing both the necessary financial benefits while retaining the effective and efficient aspects of Neighbourhood Policing.

Yours sincerely

Simon Densley
(Chair, Worcester Park Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Panel)