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Campaigners’ joy at youth home planning application refusal

PUBLISHED: 16:23 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 August 2010

A PLANNING application to build a three-storey housing block for disadvantaged youths next to a Grade II listed retirement home has been rejected by the council.

A PLANNING application to build a three-storey housing block for disadvantaged youths next to a Grade II listed retirement home has been rejected by the council.

Broomleigh Housing Association had an amended application for their £18 million 'Foyer' scheme at the junction of London Road and Tweedy Road, Bromley rejected by councillors last Tuesday.

But despite celebrating the decision, residents at the historic Bromley and Sheppards Colleges retirement home are urging Bromley council and Broomleigh to find another site for the project.

Treasurer of the 18th-century Colleges, Richard Lane OBE, said that many of the residents, who are retired members of the clergy, supported the scheme that would provide housing for young and vulnerable people.

Mr Lane said: "We are absolutely delighted by the decision but I think there is a general misunderstanding that the people who live here do not support the proposition of the Foyer.

"Many of us, as members of the church, support providing services for young people, but not when it is put slap bang against the wall of our gardens.

"I feel quite strongly that we all agree it is a fantastic project and we have support for it. I don't know whether Broomleigh and Bromley council are thinking of any other site. I would like to think they will think again and look around for something else."

Bromley council's Development Control Committee voted to refuse permission to Broomleigh despite it reducing its original application in July from 98 units to 72 and reducing the building size from four storeys to three.

Most of the social rented units would have formed a 'Foyer' scheme of studio flats for vulnerable young people aged 16 to 25, giving them access to education, training and employment opportunities.

More than 50 letters of objection were received and a petition by residents of the Colleges attracted over 1,000 signatures, including that of Graham Cole, who plays PC Tony Stamp in ITV1's The Bill.

Alexa Michael, chairman of Development Control Committee, said: "What we wanted to see was a landmark scheme that enhanced this gateway location, but without significant detriment to the neighbouring residents.

"Any scheme needs to be sensitive to the adjacent conservation area and listed buildings."

But councillor John Getgood, who voted for the application, said that opposition to the scheme was exaggerated. In his blog, he wrote: "The building was not in a particularly prominent or sensitive location.

"The needs of very vulnerable young people should be accommodated there.

"No other suitable sites have been proposed."

Nick Dudman, chief executive of Broomleigh Housing Association, said: "We are bitterly disappointed with the decision to refuse the planning application.

"This is a high quality development that meets the needs of a range of people who are often excluded from the traditional housing market and we await the formal decision notice before considering how to proceed.

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