Revised Bromley green belt stadium plans approved against officer advice

Revised plans for a football stadium and 42 affordable homes on a green belt site in south east London have been approved, against a recommendation from planners who concluded that the scheme's green belt impacts could not be outweighed by its benefits.

A visualisation of the finished development
A visualisation of the finished development

In 2016, mayor of London Sadiq Khan refused planning permission for a three-storey football stadium and two blocks of flats at the Flamingo Park site at Sidcup.

The application, which proposes building a football stadium in Chislehurst for Cray Wanderers Football Club, community sports pitches and two four-storey residential blocks of 28 flats, had been approved by the London Borough of Bromley.

Khan agreed with Greater London Authority planners that "very special circumstances" did not exist to justify the development on green belt land.

The football club subsequently updated its plans, and Bromley Council’s planning committee approved its revised application at a meeting last week.

According to a planning report, which recommended refusal, revisions to the plans included changes to layout; a reduction in height of the proposed clubhouse from three to two storeys; reduction in the scale of the proposed residential development from four storeys to two; and 100 per cent affordable housing provision where previously none was proposed.

The report said that planners had given "substantial weight to the harm caused by the inappropriate development to the green belt relative to the benefits of the scheme which include the sporting and community benefit, the regeneration of this run-down site and role of the enabling development and landscaping improvements to the green belt as well as the need for the club to find a permanent site and the lack of availability of other land for development".

But the report added that there were "fundamental issues in terms of layout and siting of the proposed development that would be to the detriment of sound placemaking, and in its current form the residential development would give rise to an isolated, inaccessible development which is not considered to be acceptable in terms of health and wellbeing of future residents, giving rise to a poor standard of amenity for future occupiers".

It concluded that planners did not consider that the harm to the green belt "by reason of inappropriateness, visual impact, lack of accessibility for walking and cycling and poor access to public transport links, together with the other harm identified in this report, are clearly outweighed by the benefits of the development".

But the plans were approved by members. According to a statement from the football club, the committee voted in favour of the scheme "by an overwhelming cross-party majority" of 11 to three.

The decision will now be referred again to the mayor of London.

Gary Hillman, the club’s chairman said: "We have listened to the mayor’s previous comments and the new scheme now features 100 per cent affordable housing and a reduction in the scale and amount of development on the site, which we believe now meets all of the mayors’ criteria and will positively support his housing targets and help the local community with much needed affordable housing.

"We hope the London mayor will now also be able to see the fantastic merits of the scheme, and will feel this revised application, which addresses all of his previous concerns, will be of benefit to the community, returning a disused piece of land to community sporting use".

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