Bell Green Gas Holders Demolition [Begun 7th January]



A planning application has been submitted for the demolition of the locally listed gas holders at Bell Green

2018: The Year in Review

Application by SGN (formerly Scotia Gas Networks)

Looks like the fight continues for those who wanted to conserve the gas holders.

Or maybe not - as the work is scheduled in a matter of days!


Good spot Michael.

It has been declared by Lewisham Planning Department that they intend to review and revise how commentaries on planning applications will be considered from any adjacent geographic Civic Society. This review will embrace considerations such as what weight will be given to such commentaries received from Civic Societies in these circumstances when the submission does not pertain to the Societies’ own wards or area.

It should be understood that significant resolve exists to ensure that the Planning Department is appraised of the absence of consultation with Bellingham Ward residents on previous applications.

In all and any circumstances It is to be hoped that in this occasion any Civic Societies, both FOHSoc and SydSoc, should they elect to comment, will do so in the context of having fully engaged with and consulted Bellingham Ward residents.

At first glance this appears to be solely a demolition proposal, upon which the previous botched and perverse local listing decision has little or no bearing or weight upon SGN’s rights to demolish. Planning Officers previously reported that Lewisham has no funds available to compensate SGN for costs related to the retention and maintenance of redundant structures.

Furthermore, at this stage there is no restoration of traffic and parking benefits embedded in the Kier development.

It remains to be seen that post demolition whether such benefits will be restored in a subsequent development proposal.

It is time that this post industrial age redundant scrap iron structure be demolished and removed.

I had written to request that the agents for the rejected application recommend to their client that the demolition should proceed.

It is viewed with a measure of irony that the proposed demolition will commence on 9 April 2018 and will be completed four days later.


Really sad. I was in Kings X the other day and saw what they did with the Gas Holders there and it reminded me of these. Hope a resolution can be found quick.


The Kings Cross development and the associated imagery has been quoted frequently in previous rounds of debate.

Difficulty is at £750k per housing unit at Kings Cross - affordable housing it does not make.

The scale and type of gas holder is also very different between the two sites.


Planning applications are always decided on merit not purely on the views of one amenity society or another. It is also right that the views of amenity societies should be placed in the context of their membership and proximity to the site. To base this purely on wards is at best a little petty but at worst quite destructive.

For example Southwark’s plans for the Honor Oak Rec are of interest to many members of the Forest Hill Society despite few of our members living in Southwark. It would be wrong for Southwark to dismiss the views of local residents because they live in the wrong borough, let alone the wrong ward.

In my opinion the same is true for Crystal Palace, the development of which could have a dramatic impact on a large area beyond Bromley borough. And the same is true for Bell Green which is acrodd the road from SE23 and the Forest Hill Society has many members who live around Perry Rise and Houston Road.

Of course it is even possible that some councillors would prefer that the Forest Hill Society is limited only to Forest Hill ward. That is not what members or residents understand by ‘Forest Hill’ and it is for members to define their area of interest, not an outside body or an individual.

But amenity societies can be helpful even outside their area. If it were not for somebody from Sydenham Society telling me about this planning application then none of us would have been aware of the application so that we can write in support or objection to this application.

It will be interesting to see how Lewisham deals with a request to demolish something that they locally listed so recently.



Both SydSoc and FOHsoc had significant over-reach embedded in in their commentaries on the final phase of development at Bell Green.

Neither body could state that their submissions included any consultation with Bellingham ward residents.

Lewisham has declared their position - they intend to review this type of cross-boundary submission, its relevance and how it is to be considered and weighted.

So if FOHSoc wants to submit a commentary - come discuss the matter with those of us who are residents in the ward - and then make your considerations known.


Hear hear, and thank goodness we have strong campaigning groups in this area with a social media reach that extends beyond arbitrarily-drawn boundaries.

The reality is that all civic societies need to think beyond their patch and club together where necessary to conserve what’s good (eg green space) and to fight decisions taken autocratically.


As I’ve said to you before, @jgdoherty on the many occasions you’ve posted about this issue - if Bellingham lacks a civic society of its own, then I’d suggest it’s up to its most outspoken member(s) to get one sorted, rather than launching protests against civil societies in neighbouring areas.


It should be noted that Lewisham Planning Officers had consulted with the developers, Kiers for almost a year and then wrote a report that recommended adoption of the proposal.

The planning sub-committee then, as it is properly entitled to do, rejected the application.

In the absence of merit.

In the absence of logic.

To the detriment of deliverable benefits for the immediate neighbours.

That’s before the wholly rushed-through and perverse application for a local listing led by the cohorts of SydSoc appeared on the horizon only days before the planning application was due for debate.

Naturally - but the only autocracy in evidence here were actions by societies outside the Bellingham ward who did not understand the basic principles of what benefits the development would deliver.


*in your opinion


You have repeated this point to one of redundancy and having zero meaningful impact.

The absence of a Bellingham ward society gives no ground to other societies to deliberate or pontificate without consultation.

And there is no attack on other societies - it is will be seen by reasonable people to be observations of their activities and pronouncements.


In my very humble opinion.

And that of most reasonable people.


I had a number of emails from members and discussions with local residents. Most of these felt that they would have been impacted in some way by the development across ward boundaries but very close to their homes. No doubt most, if not all, were from residents within Perry Vale ward. I was pleased to be able to support some of their concerns in the submission on behalf of the Forest Hill Society.

Submissions on behalf of Forest Hill Society are always made avaiable on our website and links are often posted on this forum.

It is for the council and councillors to make the final decision in line with planning regulations and their own policies. Failure to do so can result in the decision being referred to the planning inspector and, in extreme cases, may result in fines for the council.

If civic societies submit poor quality objections with little planning merit, then the council will reject them. I hope that this is a rare occurrence by the Forest Hill Society as we try our best to focus on real planning considerations when writing an objection, and tend to limit ourselves to planning applications which will have a material impact on our members or the wider community in Forest Hill.


As has been repetitiously pointed out to our neighbouring civic societies, no evidence of any consultation with Bellingham ward residents is presented in any form or at any forum.

Perry Vale is not Bellingham.

I repeat my offer - come consult with Bellingham ward members who are most directly impacted by the absence of the deliverable benefits of improved parking, set-down and traffic flow measures.

Only then will you have an authentic and presentable case that embraces all residents’ needs - and will stand up to scrutiny.


To be fair to you John I do understand your frustration, as Bell Green is in Bellingham - although the traffic implications of new development on the estate would markedly affect Perry Vale too.

I found this useful map this evening, in case anyone was wondering about the ward boundary:


Chris - thank you.

But I must encourage you not to think you understand how I feel - it is of no consequence.

Some frustration may exist about the decision made last time round - but that issue is behind us.

What must happen now is to follow an effective course of action that prevents a recurrence of the same flawed decisions and pontifications being made.

The matter of the rejection has been raised with all three ward members at the last Bellingham Assembly.

In moving forward, there is a lot to do.

I have a more detailed ward map where the boundaries are more visible - I will load it in the morning.


I would be happy to discuss the latest application with you but I think it would be wrong to consult with Bellingham residents and to claim that the Forest Hill Society represents them. If there are a number of residents in Perry Vale who reasonably feel that this would be detrimental to their lives, I think it is incumbent upon the local amenity society to represent their views rather than people in other areas. But first and foremost we try to object or support planning applications based on policies that exist at local, regional or national level. Occasionally this perspective may put us at odds with communities outside Forest Hill (e.g. people in Southwark who want to be buried in the Honor Oak Rec). It is unfortunate that some planning applications will benefit some at the expense of others, but fortunately we have a planning system that places a quasi-judicial role on local councillors from across the borough, not on amenity societies. And the planning inspector can overrule any refusal made by local councillors (interestingly there is no process for the planning inspector to overrule permission that has been granted - that would need to be done by the Secretary of State or by a judge).

Prior to the last Bell Green objection (2017) I attended two meetings where there were residents from Bellingham ward as well as other wards - one organised by the developer (pre-planning) and one organised by the Sydenham Society. Both seemed well attended and at both meetings I listened to the views of others. At neither meeting did there seem to be much desire for food retail to be built on the site.

I am always interested to hear different views about proposals, I don’t always agree with everybody and I don’t expect others to agree with me all the time. Gaining the widest perspective on a matter is helpful, which is why I post here rather than keeping the information to myself, when I know there are a variety of views - including your own. Had I not posted here you would not have known that you had an opportunity to express your views. I hope that residents of Bellingham, Perry Vale, and other areas take the opportunity to express their views to the council ( on the planning application, and I’m always happy to hear those views as well - you are welcome to contact me directly by email ( if you would like to take the discussion off-line.


When Bell Green was wasteland, I thought great - a perfect place for affordable homes or a park. But no. The council had to give us a drive-through MacDonalds and ghastly factory stores oh, and more traffic. All of which the community could do without. The gas works at least give the place character, and should remain. Indeed the structure would perfect roosting spot for Forest Hill’s green parrots.


It would be good to have more green space I agree.

On the other hand, the big Sainsbury, PC World and B&Q have been very very useful to me - especially with the ease of parking.

I’m also pleased McD’s exists - outside the town centre. Had a lovely Big Mac there last week :hamburger: