Crystal Palace Park

Bromley Council has recently announced that its exclusivity agreement with the Zhong Rong Group in relation to Crystal Palace Park has elapsed without a deal being reached. The announcement said that Bromley Council will continue to negotiate with Zhong Rong, but will also welcome approaches from other developers who are interested in this site.  In my view, the announcement once again demonstrates that Bromley Council is taking entirely the wrong approach to Crystal Palace Park.

The survey work which my Council colleagues Cllr Andy Simmons and Cllr Jon Hartley undertook of residents' views on the Zhong Rong proposals indicated that most residents were not completely opposed to the idea of a building being developed on the site of the former Crystal Palace, along Crystal Palace Parade.  However, our community is very concerned that any development in this area should be appropriate in its size and scale, complementary to the businesses within the Triangle and most importantly should reflect local needs and aspirations for an important and beautiful historic park.  There is currently no planning policy context for a large commercial building to be developed in an area which is designated Metropolitan Open Land, a very strong planning policy protection, equivalent to Green Belt.

Instead of continuing to negotiate behind closed doors, or putting the park on the open market, Bromley Council should engage with local residents and businesses on all sides of the park to develop a vision which reflects local views, needs and aspirations. A good starting point would be the masterplan for Crystal Palace Park which was developed through a detailed collaboration with the communities which surround the park and has been through a process of democratic approval, although it relied on funding to deliver it which is unfortunately no longer available.  Bromley Council and Boris Johnson should revisit the masterplan, look again at the sources of funding which could help to deliver it, and devise an incremental approach to delivery, so that we can start to make progress right away.  Only once we have a shared vision for the site of the former Crystal Palace should Bromley seek partners to help deliver the vision for our park.
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Supporting businesses in the Brixton railway arches

The railway arches in Brixton have long been a place where businesses can set up with reasonably affordable rents and benefit from being in a vibrant town centre.  The Brixton arches are relatively unusual in that along Atlantic Road, Brixton Station Road and Popes Road, the arches face on to busy streets.  Many of the businesses which occupy the arches have become local institutions - it is hard to imagine Brixton without the A & C Continental Deli, Mash's fishmonger, S & S Textiles, M & M Foods, the Catwalk wig shop and many other businesses which are as much a part of Brixton's identity and community as Electric Avenue, Windrush Square, Morleys and the markets.

It is therefore really disappointing that Network Rail has announced its intention to serve notice on all of the businesses occupying railway arches in Brixton so that it can refurbish the arches and increase the rents.  Commercial property values in Brixton have been increasing in recent years, and it is good to see investment and new start ups contributing to the vibrancy and diversity of the town centre.  But we need to make sure that Brixton's character as a diverse, bustling town centre remains and businesses which have been here for many years and which serve their customers well are not priced out.

Network Rail is a public body not a private developer, and in refurbishing the arches it needs to pay better regard to the wider community of Brixton and the role that established businesses play within it.  Network Rail should make a much stronger commitment to existing businesses in the Brixton arches, offering a right to return, a phased approach to the refurbishment, support for businesses while the works are undertaken and a reasonable approach to rent increases - they shouldn't simply be cashing in.

See my interview on the arches with Brixton Blog here:  http://www.brixtonblog.com/save-our-shops-helen-hayes-says-network-rail-has-behaved-in-the-worst-way-possible/27986

 

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Dulwich Hospital Site Update

NHS England has just announced that the health centre which is to be built on the Dulwich Hospital site is to be a new building, rather than a refurbishment of the old building, and that it will be built at the Melbourne Grove end of the site.  This is good news.  It means that we will get a modern, fit for purpose health centre and it also means that the area of the site which remains for a new secondary school will be maximised.

There is, however, more work to do on this issue.  The next step for the NHS is to prepare the business case for the new health centre, so that the funding can be agreed.  We know from previous experience elsewhere in the constituency, such as at Rosendale Road, that NHS England does not always understand local community needs and can be reluctant to agree funding for new build health centres, so we need to keep up the pressure to make sure that this process happens as quickly as possible.

The NHS also needs to prepare a planning application for the health centre and it will be really important that in doing so, they engage and consult with local residents, so that the new building is sensitively designed with consideration for its neighbours.

Finally, and as important as ever, there is the continuing campaign to ensure that the remainder of the site is developed as a new community secondary school, and only a secondary school - not the 'constrained site' primary and secondary schools as the Tories and Lib Dems would have there.  I am continuing to work with Tessa Jowell, Cllr Vikki Mills, both of the secondary school bidders and all of the Dulwich Labour councillors to lobby the government to drop the proposed primary school, so that we can have the best possible secondary school.

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Supporting the campaign for a cinema in Crystal Palace

As many of you will be aware, a planning application for the former bingo hall building at 25 Church Road is due to be considered shortly by Bromley Council. The current planning designation would allow the building to be used as a local cinema for our area. If the planning application is granted, it will give permission to the current owners to use 25 Church Road as a place of worship and the building would lose its current status as a community building.
 
I've always supported the campaign for a cinema in Crystal Palace, and hundreds of local residents who I've spoken to over the past few years believe that the best possible use for 25 Church Road would be to open it as a cinema which could be used by the whole community. Many people have been in touch over the past few weeks to express their concern that in this instance allowing 25 Church Road to be used as a place of worship would have significant impacts on the amenity of local residents, particularly in relation to traffic and parking with visitors traveling long distances by car; and would further reduce the likelihood of the long-held aspiration to open a cinema in Crystal Palace being realised.
 
For these reasons, together with my councillor colleagues Cllr Andy Simmons and Cllr Jon Hartley, I've written to Bromley Council to ask that the planning application is refused.  Please find below the full text of our objection which was sent to planning@bromley.gov.uk:
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Please let me know the issues that matter to you

As the Labour Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood, my top priorities are representing everyone who lives and works in our area, and campaigning hard on the issues which matter to you most.  Please let me know your priorities by taking two minutes to fill out the survey in the link below:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DaWN_Labour_survey 

Thank you!

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Tell me your views on proposals for the SG Smith site in Dulwich Village

If you live in Dulwich Village, you may be aware that a planning application has been submitted by The Dulwich Estate and the SG Smith Motor Group to Southwark Council for the redevelopment of the workshop site bounded by Gilkes Place, Gilkes Crescent and Calton Avenue. The application is for twelve houses with underground parking. 

Full details can be found on Southwark Council’s planning website under reference 14/AP/3104 at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/485/planning_applications/554/search_the_planning_applications_register

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Campaign for a new secondary school on the Dulwich Hospital site

We urgently need firm plans for a new secondary school in the Dulwich area.  Existing schools are heavily oversubscribed and local children are increasingly having to travel further afield to get to school.  The Council’s figures show that there will be an under-supply of places from 2016, which will increase sharply by 2018.

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Small businesses - let me know your views

Small businesses are a vital part of our economy in Dulwich and West Norwood.  Of the 3,500 businesses in our local area, 95% employ fewer than ten people.  From the wealth of shops and services along our High Streets and local shopping parades which we rely on week by week; to our small industrial estates and markets in Brixton, Crystal Palace, Herne Hill or Norwood, our area has a strong economy of micro-businesses and small and medium enterprises. 
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Issues

Over the coming months I will be highlighting the issues that matter to our communities in Dulwich and West Norwood some of the ways we can work together for change. Keep visiting this page for updates!

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