Say 'No' to further retail at Bell Green



Seems there is (was) an argument both ways in 2009 by Lewisham and the Sydenham Society

  1. The Council has designated the site as “unsuitable for residential because of contamination”. The Sydenham Society believes that acceptable methods of building houses on contaminated brownfield sites are now available and has argued that this is also an alternative method of regenerating this site. The latest Phase III proposals now show that the Council is prepared to depart from the adopted UDP designation.


I guess the question is who would be responsible for the costly remediation of the land. The council in order to increase the attractiveness of the property? Or the developer who may find the high cost unworkable?


Depends on how much you spend decontaminating any site. Some £5-6m on Bell Green to cover it with tarmac and retail sheds.

Housing on the Greenwich site built on, at about the same time, had some £65m of remediation spent on it.


The government has made money available for brownfield remediation in the past. Would be unlikely to get it if the council wasn’t really pushing for residential development though.


In the case of the retail park at Bell Green in 1994 and the Greenwich Village housing a couple of years later, it was the developers who paid. They were making enough profit - they could afford it.

Anyone objecting to the proposed plans should be sending their objections in this weekend - deadline next Tuesday, 17 April. Email to giving reasons as to why they object - name and address of objectors should be included.

Or, being fair-minded, anyone in favour can also let planners know their opinions as to why they consider this site should be made over to more retail.


As a resident of Cranston Road, I’m a bit puzzled as to where this plague of HGVs affecting Houston Road comes from or goes to. We very rarely get HGVs up here, just the occasional mid-weight truck and some Clarke’s coaches on weekends.

I also find the ‘Council experts say the land is unsuitable for residential property owing to contamination’ ‘They’re wrong! It can be remediated dead easily! I know this because, er, um, I believe it!’ to be a bit off, to be honest.




Another Cranston resident here - I have to agree with @Baboonery in that I don’t see any HGVs on our road. Well no artics - just, as said, the occasional large lorry, coach or training bus…


The Forest Hill Society objection can now be viewed online.


I am assuming that all members of the Forest Hill Society do not shop or visit the Bell Green retail Area? They will obviously boycott any future shops should they be built.
Of course they will be happy to fund maintenance of the Gas Holders and relieve others of any such commitment. Members who own or manage companies will create jobs (even low level) to match those that their objection if successful will deny. Seems to me that pure objection with no alternative solution or suggestion is just negativity.


The proposed use of the site is against Lewisham’s planning policy (and national guidelines). The Forest Hill Society agrees with the council that additional A1 food retail is not what is needed on this site - and the existing empty supermarket in Sydenham is where additonal food retail is best located.

As with all planning applications, speculative alternative uses are not regarded as reasons for refusal, so no such proposals have been included in the objection. But just because somebody can propose a use does not necessarily mean that it is either right for the location or the best use of the site.

You are welcome to write in to support the application if you feel that it is really the best use of the site. The good news is that the planning department will base their decision on existing policy and planning law, not on the whims of a business or a purely NIMBY attitude (which I do not believe applies in this case).

Out of interest did you actually read the objection in full before making your comment?


In my opinion if the site within Sydenham was appropriate for a supermarket then perhaps the last two occupants would have been successful?
Whilst planning rules are valid in some cases they are made in general and not for individual locations.(i have experience dealing with Dept of Environment, CPRE, MAFF as well as council planning policy)

I did read through the objections and do not agree that the gas holders represent some enhancement to the area, however, like my comments that is my opinion.
I have been supportive of changes to FH parking facilities to help promote activity and improve the experience. The facilities that will be ncluded in the proposals do not conflict with any individual retailers and may introduce more competitive pricing for foodstuffs.

I believe the traffic problems for the area have more to do with lack of investment in the South Circular and surrounding road’s, as well as a general lack of infrastructure for public transport in SE London.

I also disagree that providing an alternative plan is not required, merely objecting without it leaves the decision to be yes or no. Whereas an alternative may gather more support and if the council is to serve its ratepayers then it may achieve a result you support. Status quo is never the answer.


Bugdens closed because the chain went bankrupt, not because of a specific failing of the store. Previously the store has been passed from one chain to another as part of mergers and diversification. I believe that Aldi could make that site work well and would provide competition and increased footfall to the high street in Sydenham.

The planning rules in this case are both national guidelines and highly specific site allocations following detailed discussion during planning application, judicial review, and council planning consultations. There is a justified concern that out of centre developments harm town centres by reducing footfall rather than simply by competing with existing businesses.

If you want alternatives then a number appear in this thread. The site could be used for housing and other types of retail or something fun - like a cinema, ice rink, or trampoline park - something that we don’t have already within a mile of the site.

Aldi specifically excluded residential from above their shop in this planning application (according to my discussion with the developer). The lack of inclusion of more housing and development of only a single storey demonstrates a lack of imagination regarding the potential uses of this site. But none of these arguments are relevant to the planning process as the council do need to make a yes or no decision - there is no alternative choice that they may recommend beyond the ideas contained in the core strategy and site allocations report.


I didn’t realise that the site contamination extended to the river Pool. Does this mean that the Ravensbourne is affected too and so Deptford Creek and Thames? If so, there is more to this than a contaminated Bell Green site.


Maybe contaminated, but kingfishers haven’t objected


Well quite. So just how bad is this contamination and what is the risk that impacts residential rather than commercial?


Successful companies don’t go Bankrupt?

Disagree councils can exercise variations, if a cinema, ice rink, bowling alley was viable operators would be clamouring to open. Indeed if a cinema was profitable then the Capitol would have been snapped up by now.

As stated we are all entitled to an opinion and I have expressed mine, we choose to differ and I respect that. Yours is not going to change and neither is mine so we will have to wait for the final decision.


Bell green is a retail park and that’s that it won’t be pretty but it will and should extend and it will, it’s a dine deal and it’s the only usage which makes sense. I am supporting that the traffic situation needs to be sorted but the kind of development which is already down there will be extended, let’s move on you can’t polish a turd as they say and why should you, its convenient its practical and it is a fone deal no matter how many objections, how can you stop a area earmarked to be a retail park to become a retail park , Sydenham and forest hill society are 19 years to lateand while I am wholeheartedly support the forest hill society great work generally it’s a dead end in my openion


It is not inevitable that the development of the remainder of the site also has to be retail park. I’d rather it was developed than not, but the nature of the development is not yet a done deal.

When you say it is ‘earmarked’ to be a retail park, what do you mean?


Mean that this is the last stage to be developed and there is actually a retailer to take it in in this case Aldi so I don’t really understand what the fuss is about, I doubt that anybody would
Like to live above an Aldi should the request for flats come into play with a lovely view of a car park, those retail parks exist all around London and I would be interested if anyone from this forum ever been to the memorial home, I just think the focus is ill judged while the Sydenham society should focus about the high street and I doubt the postcode is se23 down there therefore is a bit of a non starter but I leave it now and ditch back and see, maybe we end up with a lovely park down there nobody is interested to use