Porcupine pub, Mottingham, survives for now
PUBLISHED: 17:02 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 25 March 2020
The world may be rife with uncertainty at the moment, but at least one thing has remained consistent in recent years – a lack of a decision over the future of Mottingham’s former Porcupine Pub.
This month’s meeting of Bromley’s development control committee looked set to finally give an answer on the long-running saga – which began in 2013 when the pub first shut down, before Lidl proposed to demolish it for a new supermarket.
However, councillors instead deferred a decision to allow for more feedback from Lidl, primarily on how their development would reach carbon reduction limits set out in London’s draft plan.
It came after committee members heard passionate opposition to the project from ward councillors David Cartwright and Will Rowlands, as well as Bromley and Chislehurst MP Sir Bob Neill, who made an uncommon trip to the council chambers to speak on the application.
Addressing the board, the member for Bromley and Chislehurst conceded it was “rare” to involve himself on specific planning matters.
However, the level of opposition from local residents – 248 of 307 letters received by the council objected to the proposal – necessitated it, he said.
Sir Bob said the application “makes no attempt to fulfil roles social roles” the Porcupine previously held.
He also accused Lidl and former owner Enterprise Inns of deliberately allowing the site to deteriorate in recent years, as well as saying he was “very suspicious” of failed attempts by Lidl to sell the pub.
“I would be very suspicious of what we see here…it’s quite clear we can go do a marketing exercise on paper but not in real life,” he said,
“Now you’re seeing Lidl, a large multinational company with deep pockets to sit on the site and hope that (time will) grind down objectors and local authority,” he said.
Cllr Cartwright was scathing as well and called the competency of council officers into question in a lengthy 15 minute address.
“We’ve heard a lot of wild statements already here and a lot of lack of detail,” he said of Lidl’s proposal.
He took issue with the proposed foot traffic and increased traffic the proposal would attract – saying the site itself situated within a couple of metres within a busy roundabout with heavy traffic volumes and “more than its fair share of road accidents”.
He also said issues with the entrance and sight lines along Mottingham Road – which caused Lidl’s first application in 2014 to be rejected – hadn’t been addressed.
He said lorries delivering to the supermarket would have to “creep out” back onto the road, presenting a risk to children in the car-park.
“I seriously call into question the officers who compiled the highways report,” he said.
“It could appear there is an actual question mark over the competency of the officers involved.”
Ahead of the opposition speeches, agents from Lidl said concerns over highway safety had been addressed since the planning inspector upheld Bromley Council’s decision to reject their 2014 bid.
Lidl’s agent said the revised entry now provided “full visibility both ways along the road”.
He added Lidl did not pursue a second attempt “lightly” saying they were “encouraged by the level of community support”.
The proposal would create 40 new jobs he said, as well as bringing a vacant brownfield site back into use.
He also referred to the attempted sale of the pub in 2016, during which no interested buyers came forward he said.
In debate, several councillors backed the proposal, with Cllr Nicholas Bennett saying “this is a story that has been going on for seven years”.
“As said before this site is an important site in Mottingham – we can’t go on like this,” he said in support, which drew hisses from the public gallery.
He was backed by Cllr Vanessa Allen, who added: “I don’t think you could call this building a community facility when it’s been vacant for seven years, (and it) seems to be on quite thin ice if we refuse it”.
However, it was a proposal to defer by Cllr William Huntington-Thresher, who said that London’s draft plan was to be carbon neutral by 2050, and proposed that Lidl update its proposal to meet those demands.