BY CALUM FRASER firstname.lastname@example.org
Furious residents have slammed plans to build tower blocks in their town centre.
A development scheme that involves six high-rise buildings, going up to 13-storeys, on the site of the old Bexley town hall, was narrowly voted through at a planning committee.
Joseph Smith, who lives in Bexleyheath with his two daughters, made a plea to the councillors not to accept the Bellway scheme in its current form.
After the plans had been voted through, Mr Smith, 45, said: “I am absolutely devastated.
I’ve got two girls, 14 and 10. I moved to the borough 18 years ago to escape inner London tower blocks.
“It’s the beginning of the end now. It’s going to set a precedent for other developers to demand higher blocks.
“We would rather that the councillors would fight our corner and if the Mayor of London overturns it then so be it. “But they didn’t. It’s a done deal now.
My bedroom window will now be faced with a tower block.”
Bexleyheath resident Zoe Harris also made a plea to the council not to accept the planning application in its current form.
She said: “[There has been] no regard to pollution and potential detrimental effects on physical health.
I am concerned that an additional 518 residences will add more pollution to an already highly polluted area.”
More than 90 per cent of the units are one and two bedroom, with 22 per cent earmarked for affordable housing.
Of the 110 affordable homes, 81 will be delivered at social rent while 29 will be intermediate homes, which means they will be sold or let above social rent, but below market levels.
Labour Councillor Brenda Langstead called the level of affordable housing “pathetically low”.
The Slade Green and Northend representative said: “I fail to understand how a development of this size, with buildings of this height, cannot provide 35 per cent affordable that we expect.”
Conservative Councillor June Slaughter said: “It seems strange to me that a development of this size cannot support a higher level of affordable housing.”
The developers have submitted an independently verified viability assessment. In this, they say that 22 per cent of affordable housing is the most Bellway can afford.
A spokeswoman for Bexley council said: “When approving the Bellway development the planning committee had to be mindful of planning legislation and the Mayor’s suggested London Plan which favours even larger developments with no parking.
“There is a need for local housing in the borough with many Bexley residents and their families struggling to find good quality affordable accommodation, which is why the council is committed to providing more affordable homes, and has approved the 518 homes on the former civic offices site in Bexleyheath town centre.
“The scheme includes 110 affordable homes and commercial floor space. “The application will be the subject of a review by the Mayor of London, as is normal with a scheme of this size.”
A Bellway spokeswoman said: “Following a series of on-site consultation events, we received approval by the planning authority on June 14.
“Our detailed plans take into account feedback received from stakeholders and will of course be built in compliance with all existing building regulations.”
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