CONTRADICTIONS, QUESTIONABLE CLAIMS – AND DOWNRIGHT ARROGANCE
2009 APPLICATION FOR 25 CHURCH ROAD
Among the documents submitted to Bromley council one says the previous application made in 2009 was turned down because of:
Presumed reduction in range of social and cultural facilities for all
Concern over scale of use, parking demand etc.
Elsewhere in the documents the FULL reasons are given:
The application was taken to planning committee on 17th December 2009 and refused consent for the following (two) reasons:
1) The proposed development, involving the loss of an important entertainment/leisure use within Use Class D2 and the introduction of a mixed-use including a place of worship within Use Class D1, would result in a reduction in the range of facilities provided within the town centre detrimental to the proper functioning of the daytime and evening economy and harmful to the social, cultural and economic characteristics of the area, thereby contrary to Policies 3A18, 3D.1 and 4B.8 of the London Plan.
2) The nature of the activity associated with a Class D1 use such as a place of worship and the scale of the use means that they are likely to have a wide catchment for its congregation and attract a large number of cars and as a result the development will have significant adverse impact on the surrounding area in terms of parking demand and pedestrian safety contrary to Policy T18 of the Unitary Development Plan.
“A LOCAL NEED….”
says the plans will provide a new place of worship – “a local need for disadvantaged groups to have a new place of worship to attend has been identified by the local authority” – a claim repeated later in the same document which says it “meets an identified local need.”
The report fails to say where and when this need has been identified – and fails to mention the Celestial Church of God which own a former church hall in St Aubyn’s Road just across from the application site – or the Redeemed Christian Church of God or the Alpha and Omega Assembly which both meet in the Upper Norwood Methodist church hall off Westow Hill.
says the building will provide “an accessible building for all – including disabled and elderly people” – but fails to mention that the Phoenix community centre and Salvation Army centre, both just round the corner on Westow Street are both accessible for disabled and elderly people.
“FOLLOWING THE COUNCIL’S SUGGESTION….”
KICC in their ‘statement of community involvement’ say: “Following the council’s suggestion, KICC are now offering the following for the local community;
- A new community hub and multi-use facility with excellent sustainable transport
links both by bus and rail
- A total of 70 per cent of the Open Door’s timetable available for general public to use
- Access to a newly renovated and upgraded facility
- A catalyst to attract people to other Crystal Palace businesses
- Bringing a historic venue back into use and saving it from possible dereliction
- A permanent cafe and smaller meeting rooms for community groups to hold events
and meet.WHAT ONE COUNCIL OFFICER ACTUALLY TOLD KICC IN A LETTER:“The refused application proposed a significant of ancillary and mostly aspirational uses. In order to seek to address this ground of refusal you are proposing a mixed use comprising class D1 and D2 uses.
“The use of the building as a place of worship will occur twice a week whilst the remaining components of the mixed use are mostly aspirational at this stage.
“I suggest that in order to successfully address the previous ground of refusal you should demonstrate that the proposal is not primarily D1 use of the building with a limited, ancillary D2 use.
“In this respect I suggest that you should advance the D2 components of the use in order that it can be demonstrated that they are likely to become a reality should planning permission be granted rather than remain aspirational.
“In this respect I suggest that if you can provide details of expressions of interest from any groups that will be involved in the D2 use of the building then this will be advantageous, as will any other evidence that you can provide to demonstrate a commitment to the D2 components of the use. Should permission be granted, conditions may be imposed to ensure an appropriate mix of uses.
“Any community benefits that can be demonstrated within the proposed mix of uses will weigh in favour of a planning application and it may be advantageous to fully investigate opportunities for community use of the building outside of the church’s activities and the uses detailed above.
“A diversity of proposed uses will assist in addressing the previous ground of refusal regarding the social, cultural and economic impact of the proposal.
“Uses which will attract a significant footfall will also assist in addressing the previous economic concerns.”
The letter also includes the traditional disclaimer).
CONGREGATION: One document says they plan to move ALL their congregation to 25 Church Road from their base at Keevil Drive, Wimbledon which is leased from Wandsworth council in which borough it stands:
“The forthcoming application seeks to enable D1 Place of Worship Use at 25 Church
Street to facilitate the relocation of KICC’s Keevil Drive branch church to Crystal Palace.
“High-level estimates of the congregation sizes have been provided by the applicant,
based on various assumptions/expectations.
“These include…. expectation that a significant proportion of the congregation will transfer to the new site; recognition that some people may choose not to transfer and may instead move to other KICC branches or other churches and; recognition that the new site may attract a proportion of new locally-based worshipers. (sic)
But elsewhere the report refers to “recognition that some people may choose not to transfer and may instead continue to attend services at Keevil Drive” .
RETAIL SHOPS : KICC say target groups for engagement included businesses in close proximity to the site – but Church Road traders opposite say they were not invited to the ‘invitation only’ open day
says the building is opposite retail shops – but fails to mention those homes on St Aubyn’s Road behind the mostly single-storey shops, the back of whose homes directly overlook 25 Church Road.
TRAFFIC MARSHALS: “previous use of the marshals in hi-visibility clothing has been shown to be successful. ” But in September 2012 the following news report appeared:
TRAFFIC STEWARDING OF CHURCH EVENT A “SHAMBLES”
“TRAFFIC STEWARDING of the business seminar held by Kingsway International Christian Centre in the former cinema at 25 Church Road has been branded a “shambles” by a residents group.
“In strongly worded letters to both Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police’s Crystal Palace Safer Neighbourhood Team, Gipsy Hill Residents Association are demanding to know if KICC were given permission to install traffic stewards – and if no such permission was given what action TfL are planning to take……”
DROP-OFF POINTS: ‘Traffic Marshals’ would be employed to deter drivers from dropping off and picking up visitors on Church Road in the immediate vicinity of the site.
The transport assessment document says: ” Observations were undertaken of a recent event in July 2014 which attracted approximately 600 visitors.
The observations revealed:
- very few instances of drop-off / pick-ups on Church Road;
- any vehicles associated with the event were quickly moved on by traffic
- traffic remained in free-flow thorough out the period, notwithstanding the
background traffic demand on the local highway network;
- there were no significant congregations of pedestrians on the footway.
- Elsewhere documents state parking bays with a maximum stay of one hour were excluded from calculations as they would not be suitable for use by visitors to the proposed church services “albeit they would form appropriate drop-off locations.”QUESTIONABLE CLAIMSCONSULTANTS ACTING for KICC continue to insist the building has not been used as a place of worship.
Simply Planning say: “Following refusal of the earlier application (Ref. 09/022022/FULL) the building has not been used as a place of worship.”But KICC have arranged and held a limited number of events all of which fell within the existing D2 Use (assembly and leisure) of the property.”
While Royal Haskoning say: “Following the refurbishment the building has been host to a variety of non-religious events. “These are permitted under the extant planning consent for D2 Assembly and Leisure Use and are not subject to any planning restrictions (i.e. capacity limitations).”
These include two Watchnight Crossover Celebrations and two Night of Joy musical concerts.
PARKING: Documents say the congregation would use 372 parking spaces – but only expect a congregation of 400.
COMMUNITY USE: The documents say 70 per cent of the building would be used for community use but that community use would not be allowed during the time church services are taking place.
Elsewhere: ” It is proposed that the principal use of the building will be as a church, although the building will be available for community use when services are not being held.”
Documents also say:
- it is saving the building from possible dereliction – but fails to mention they have turned down bids from a nationwide cinema chain who wish to buy the building.
- says 25 Church Road “ceased operation as a bingo hall and was sold to KICC” – it was actually bought in a private deal from Gala bingo. Staff were then given seven days notice.
- says the proposed use of the site as a place of worship would result in significantly fewer vehicles trip than the extant consented use as a bingo hall or cinema (i.e. in the region of 344 fewer daily two-way trips).
…AND DOWNRIGHT ARROGANCE
“The original application was subject to a high level of objections which were primarily related to a campaign by a local group which had aspirations for a cinema use within the building. “Such use has not operated from this location since the 1960’s.
“From our experience, it is not unusual for other organisations or groups to be interested in buildings such as the application site. However, KICC are the owners of the building.
“The application must therefore be decided on its individual merits and the fact other parties may have aspirations for alternative uses of the building, should it ever become available on the open market again, is of little consequence.” – Simply Planning in the supporting planning statement.