Case Study: 518 new homes and 3,150sqm retail, London Borough of Bexley

Bexleyheath

Background

A major housebuilder sought approval for 518 homes alongside 3,150sqm of flexible commercial space on the site of the Former Civic Offices in Bexleyheath town centre.

Challenge

  • The site was an urban ‘off town centre’ location which had been derelict since 2012, and previous consented developments had failed to materialise.
  • There were widespread concerns about density, height and scale of the development, focussed on the inclusion of a 13 storey landmark building in the north western corner of the site.
  • The ward councillor and MP had stated their opposition to the scheme.

Solution

  • We compiled a comprehensive Political & Community Stakeholder Survey and identifed the elected members and community leaders who could impact the planning application.
  • We organised an initial two-day public exhibition, and invited over 1,800 residents, political stakeholders and journalists. Attendees filled in feedback forms, providing useful comments to help our client finalise the detail of the scheme before submission. We then held a second two-day public exhibition 3 weeks later, responding specifically to the points raised at the first exhibition.
  • Post-submission we held a further feedback session for residents who continued to be interested in the application, which generated 28 letters of support. We then encouraged these residents to ensure they submitted their letters of support to the Council’s official consultation.
  • We held individual meetings with important stakeholders including the MP, the Leader of the Council, the Assembly Member and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, and presented to Bexleyheath BID to secure support from local businesses.

Result

 After a lengthy debate at Bexley Borough Council Planning Committee, with 4 votes in favour and 4 votes against, the Chair of the Planning Committee used their casting vote to approve the scheme in June 2018.

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