TFL & Covid Woes lead to stalled traffic schemes

Many residents will have been disappointed at the news that the planned 20mph limits around Hayes’ schools have been shelved following Transport for London (TfL) withdrawing the necessary funding.

Unfortunately TfL’s parlous financial state before the Coronavirus outbreak proved too much and funding the costs of the lockdown meant that many projects have been cancelled. This also includes the more controversial and tentative plans for a ‘School Street’ along George Lane, which was about to enter the early consultation phase.

On a brighter note, some funding has been made available for measures to encourage socially distanced walking and cycling, but for now the other schemes have been put onto the back burner.

Undeterred, as your local councillors we will continue to support ideas to improve the quality of life and travel for our residents, where such schemes are practical, affordable and have the broad support of the community.

20mph Speed Limits Come to Hayes

The Council is set to introduce 20mph speed limits and other road safety measures around three Hayes schools. Baston Road and West Common Road will be subject to the new limits, which are focused on the roads closest to Hayes Secondary and Baston House Schools.

The Environment and Community Services Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee has recommended that the scheme go forward and the cabinet member responsible is expected to give it the green light in the next few days.

A related but separate proposal for a ‘School Street’ has been drawn up for George Lane, between Hayes Wood Avenue and Hayes Primary School. The scheme will go out for consultation before any final decision is made on whether to proceed with the tentative plans, which will see that part of George Lane closed to non-residents vehicles during school drop-off and pick-up times.

The 20mph limit, which legally can only be advisory, will nevertheless feature permanent signs as well as being accompanied by an additional crossing point on Baston Road and improvements to existing crossing including larger traffic islands. The signs will be reinforced by flashing lights at school drop-off and pick-up times indicating when the limits are in force, though experience elsewhere has shown that the limits are effective in slowing down traffic throughout the day.

Your ward councillors are keen that the scheme should be just the next step in a series of measures around the ward aimed at improving road safety and tackling acute parking and other traffic issues.

Hayes Farm Development Plans Allowed on Appeal

Last week the appeal inspector allowed the planning application to build nine houses on the site of the farmyard and stables at Hayes Street Farm. The application had been refused by the council last year after a campaign by local residents backed by the Hayes Village Association and your local councillors, but following a public inquiry – held at our suggestion – the inspector allowed the plans, noting that the site has been previously developed and that it he felt it was not detrimental to either the conservation areas or the openness of the Green Belt.

We know that many (though certainly not all) residents will be disappointed in the outcome, but there is little scope for the council to appeal this decision. The only available route would be a judicial review which can only be brought if the inspector has erred in law or the process was materially flawed. From our discussion so far with council officers, there appear to be no such grounds.

During the hearing the applicants had, wrongly, suggested that the Council had misled the inspector over Housing Land Supply – a point which the inspector later ruled was irrelevant. However, he still ultimately found in their favour.

We will now be watching closely should the applicants attempt to modify their plans, as well as being vigilant for any further deterioration of the remaining open farmland.

New Bid for Hayes Lane Flats Refused

stack_of_plans-639x852The plans for a block of flats at 143 Hayes Lane were refused by the council last week. After Cllr. Neil Reddin addressed a planning committee last Thursday night, two sets of plans – for blocks of nine and eight flats respectively – were turned down on a unanimous vote.

The grounds for refusal included traffic concerns, that the development was out of character and scale for the area and represented over-development of the site.

The developers now have six months to lodge an appeal against the refusal. If they do so, they will probably cite the government Planning Inspectorate’s controversial approval for flats next door at 145 Hayes Lane.

Hayes Farm Development Plans Refused

The plans to develop the farmyard at Hayes Street Farm have been turned down by the Council.

The refusal, made as a ‘delegated decision’ by planning officers, follows a flood of objections by local residents and us as your local councillors. In accordance with our request, the early refusal means the plans won’t need to go before a planning committee as they would have if officers had recommended approval.

The grounds for refusal are fairly comprehensive and include inappropriate development in, and loss of openness of, the Green Belt, loss of employment and commercial use, harm to the Hayes Village conservation area and setting of the Listed building.

It now remains to be seen whether Rookery Estates will appeal the decision, submit amended plans, or both. They have up to six months to lodge an appeal with Planning Inspectorate, but for now many residents will breathe a sigh of relief.

Another Month, Another Stuck HGV

Yesterday a large articulated lorry became stuck in Gates Green Road, and for most of the day, outside Wickham Common School. The driver seems to have realised too late that he was never going to fit down a country lane.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in the Wickham Common area. Previously a street tree was severely damaged by a lorry leading to the Council’s legal team pursuing the company responsible. Also, Layhams Road and North Pole Lane have  suffered from errant HGVs; a problem that appears to have been on the increase, partly because some haulage firms try to cut costs by using satellite navigation maps designed only for smaller vehicles.

The Council has previously worked with mapmakers to ensure that roads unsuitable for HGVs are marked as such in satnav data, but clearly more needs to be done. We are now taking the issue up with the Council’s highways officers, including improving the signage at vulnerable junctions such as Gates Green Road/Croydon Road, Kingsway and others.

Articulated lorry stuck in Gates Green Road 22/3/18 (Credit: Sam Wheatcroft, WCRA)

How You Can Help Fight The Potholes

Bromley Council has been given an extra £225,000 to tackle potholes after the recent – and this weekend, current – freezing conditions, and they want residents to let them know where the money needs spending.

The Council has already been dealing with hundreds of potholes after last month’s cold blast, and is in the middle of a longer term investment programme to catch up on the general resurfacing backlog. The extra cash from central government will help to top up the emergency repairs budget and get our roads back in shape for the spring.

Of course the Council’s own highway inspectors can’t be everywhere, so if you know of any damage that hasn’t yet been identified (it will normally have been marked out with spray paint) then let the council know – either using FixMyStreet or via the Council website, or just let us know in the comments.

Biggin Hill Airport To Cut Light Aircraft Activity

Biggin Hill Airport has informed its landlord Bromley Council that they are actively looking to reduce the overall volume of light aviation at the Airport.

They anticipate that light aviation movements will decline from approximately 35,000 movements annually to around 12,000.  In order to achieve this reduction, we understand that the Airport have now served notices to terminate the leases of the resident flying schools, with informal discussions going on for some time now, and with the Airport already having the agreement of nearby light aviation aerodromes, Redhill, Surrey and Damyns Hall Farm, Essex, to accept these businesses should they choose to relocate.

The Airport also said that this was a difficult decision for them to take given the longstanding nature of some of the training schools, but that they are no longer able to mix a high volume of light aviation with growing business aviation whilst maintaining high levels of customer service and all importantly, flight safety.

Credit: FreeImages.com/paul campbell

For the avoidance of doubt and for clarity, the Council has stressed that the Lease and the controls within it, including the Noise Action Plan, remain in place and are not affected by the Airport’s decision.

Residents living under existing light aircraft flight tracks, particularly in and around Keston, should notice the reduced volume of aircraft fairly quickly as the changes come into effect over the next 6 months or so with related training flights stopping.

In terms of overall movement numbers, the Airport envisage that in this time period aircraft movements will decline from around 50,000 movements per annum to somewhere around 30,000 movements per annum.

Green Light for Hayes Lane Flats

In a disappointing decision, the planning inspector has overruled Bromley Council and given approval to a block of eight flats to be built at 145 Hayes Lane.

The Council had refused permission for the plans last summer, but in allowing the developer’s appeal, the inspector reckoned that “… in an area with a mixed street scene where relatively substantial buildings are far from uncommon, the proposal would appear as sitting comfortably in its context and be of an appropriate scale. The proposal would not harm the character and appearance of the area.”

The proposals are in ‘outline’ form with most matters, such as design and scale, to be decided by way of a further application.

Road Resurfacing List Confirmed For 2018-19

Hilldown Road 02
Hilldown Road, set for resurfacing this coming year – and not a moment too soon!

The road resurfacing schedule for 2018/19 has been confirmed.

Roads for resurfacing are listed based on information such as technical inspections, input from residents (including the FixMyStreet website) and requests by us as your local councillors.

The roads on the list this year are:

Abbotsbury Road
Bourne Vale (part)
Cheriton Avenue
Courtlands Avenue
East Way
Five Elms Road
Hawthorndene Road
Hayes Gardens
Hayes Lane (part)
Hayesford Park Drive
Hilldown Road
Holland Close
Northbourne
Oakmead Avenue
Ridgeway
South Way
Westland Drive

Other roads outside but close to the ward:

Church Road (Bromley Common & Keston)
Jackass Lane (part) (Bromley Common & Keston)
Hayes Road (part) (Bromley Town)
Westmoreland Road (part) (Shortlands)

The full report, as presented to the Environment scrutiny committee is under item 6b here.

We don’t yet know precisely when each road will be done and there is always the chance of some slippage in the schedule if, for instance, we experience a hard winter when resources have to be diverted into emergency repairs elsewhere.

Occasionally some rescheduling may also take place as a result of the need to coordinate with utility companies if they have some planned (non-emergency) works of their own, to avoid a newly resurfaced road being dug up just months after it’s been laid. Similarly, non-emergency works requested by utilities shortly after a relaying will also usually be denied.

Serving Hayes, Coney Hall, West Wickham Common and Hayesford Park