A BROMLEY COUNCIL planner has outlined the reasons for their lack of enforcement action over a Pentecostal church’s use of the former cinema building at 25 Church Road, Upper Norwood.
In email exchanges the planning officer has told Cllr Tom Papworth (Lib Dem Crystal Palace ward) that “there remain some reservations that the council has sufficient evidence to sustain enforcement action on appeal or to defend a potential claim for costs for unreasonable behaviour. “We therefore need to proceed with caution.”
The release of the emails – written shortly before the church – the Kingsway International Christian Centre – staged an education conference at the premises on February 23rd – come as they plan ANOTHER event titled ‘Night of Joy’ in the building on Saturday July 20th.
The officer says: “The point at which a material change of use occurs is a matter of fact and degree and in practice can be difficult to determine, particularly if the use is occasional and changes in character over time.
“In this case the four events which have so far taken place have included a range of mixed D2/D1 uses including an open day, a business seminar, a concert and a watchnight service of praise and worship.
“The event on February 23rd is described as an education conference which appears to be the first event which falls exclusively within class D1.*
“In my view, we are approaching the stage where it can be demonstrated that the character of the use has changed from purely Class D2 to a mixed D2/D1 use.
“However there remain some reservations that the council has sufficient evidence to sustain enforcement action on appeal or to defend a potential claim for costs for unreasonable behaviour and we therefore need to proceed with caution.”
Cllr Papworth told News From Crystal Palace: “KICC cannot be allowed to simply flaunt the regulations in this manner. “Bromley council are being woefully inadequate in their enforcement of the lawful use of this site.”
COUNCIL’S PLAN TO MAXIMISE ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
Bromley council’s development control committee as part of a borough-wide strategy have now set up a working party to:
- monitor the work of the enforcement team;
- assess the adequacy of their resources;
- act as a conduit between members and the enforcement team;
- ensure they are maximising their options where enforcement action has been decided upon.
Crystal Palace Triangle Planning Group (CPTPG) told Bromley council the education conference event was the fifth in seven months. “The building remains empty for the rest of the time and closed to the local community. “Please could you advise what action Bromley council can take to:
“1. stop KICC from flouting the lawful planning use of the building; and
“2. bring this building back into inclusive leisure use?
“We have a willing buyer in City Screen, who would love to be at 25 Church Road and a huge number of people in Crystal Palace who would love them to be here with the known regenerative benefits they would bring.
“KICC could easily hold its activities elsewhere in the area for example the Harris Academy, South Norwood or Kingsdale Foundation, Dulwich.
“What Crystal Palace and Church Road desperately need is an entertainment venue – not another D1 building for which KICC does not have planning permission for.”
PICTURE PALACE CAMPAIGN
And the Picture Palace Campaign – set up to bring a cinema back to Crystal Palace in the wake of KICC’s secret purchase of the building from Gala Bingo – said: “We are are unable to see any public benefit of KICC’s continued ownership of a building which has been effectively closed to the public now since the beginning of July 2009 and in which KICC cannot lawfully deliver their charitable objects.” (A public meeting called by the Campaign at the Queen’s hotel, Church Road in 2009 attracted more than 1,000 people).
See: Council officer at KICC event – March 8th
*D1 Non-residential institutions – Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.
D2 Assembly and leisure – Cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).