Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Update on Catford Town Centre Plan and the Catford Bridge Tavern

It's a full Lewisham council meeting tonight - the first since February where the public have been able to ask questions. That's democracy in action for you. But anyway, that aside, it's a good opportunity to find out what the council have been up to on a whole range of issues. I asked a few questions, and have received written responses ahead of the meeting, which is nice and efficient and allows for planning of any supplementary questions I might want to ask. Unfortunately I can't attend the meeting, but that's another issue entirely.

I asked for an update on the plans for implementation of the borough-wide 20mph zone, and was told that detailed plans and a timetable will be submitted to mayor and cabinet in November. Watch this space.

Helpfully, the council also provide everyone else's questions and answers in one big document so I've been able to scan through those too. There were a lot of questions on the Leegate development and it seems the council plan to tackle these at a separate meeting, otherwise they'd never get through the rest of business tonight.

But, onto the main purpose of this post. I asked a question about what is happening to the Catford town centre plan (CTCLP) and how this plan relates to TfL's inner ring road plans or plans to put the south circular in a tunnel. Another questioner also asked about the Catford plan, and when it might be implemented (it was put on hold because of TfL's Roads Task Force (RTF) report). 

The council had decided that TfL's long-held plans to relocate the South Circular behind Laurence House were unlikely to proceed and so set out a new policy that committed the Council to work on the Catford plan on the basis that this wouldn't happen. However, the July 2013 RTF report appeared to put these proposals back on the table, thus jeopardising the Catford plan. The council say that as a result of the Mayor of London’s request it was concluded that there was merit in re-examining the original TfL A205 road improvement proposals and TfL agreed to undertake a study to investigate.  If, as a result of the study, TfL continued to support their original proposals or some other third way then significant modification of the CTCLP would be required. As the report was not expected until summer 2014 and then would need discussion and consideration, the Council concluded that the best option would be to withdraw the CTCLP from Examination.

An initial concept report has recently been received in draft from TfL which outlines the proposal. Lewisham Officers are currently reviewing the report and raising a number of queries and are seeking a meeting during September with TfL to receive further information to assist full consideration. The proposal focuses on Catford rather than the wider south circular, and the Council is not aware of any current work into the idea of running the south circular in a tunnel.

Work on the CTCLP is expected to resume with further work carried out once the results of the TfL review are evolved and worked through. Once the TfL review is worked through and work on the CTCLP resumes, the web pages will be updated with any new information and timeframes.

Another one to watch at this stage I think.

Another questioner asked about the Catford Bridge Tavern: "Will the Council use the full range of its formal powers and informal persuasion to ensure that the freeholders and leaseholders of the Catford Bridge Tavern restore the property to its use as a pub without further delay?"

This was their answer: The Council has already used its planning powers to put in place policy to protect viable local pubs. This is set out in the Development Management local plan. Government legislation on ‘permitted development’ means that a pub use can change to other town centre uses such as a shop, a bank, or a restaurant without the need to obtain planning permission. These details are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) and The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).The Council has a planning power known as an ‘Article 4 Direction’ that it can put in place with the Secretary of State’s agreement to remove the permitted development right. In the case of the Catford Bridge Tavern the Council has already placed an Article 4 Direction on the property so the owners cannot change the use to a shop or other use without first applying to the Council and obtaining planning permission.

In terms of informal persuasion the planning service encourages owners and developers to engage in pre application discussion on any proposals. To a large extent this relies on the owner or developer making contact but if the Council is advised of any proposal it will initiate its own contact. The Planning Service is preparing a questionnaire on community uses within pubs in Lewisham and as part of this work it proposes to contact the owners of the Catford Bridge Tavern to enquire about the latest situation and encourage the reuse as a pub.

Not exactly encouraging.... I personally feel that the council ought to be being much more pro-active in contacting people who might be interested in making this into a viable pub. I believe that Tesco are the owners. More pressure needs to be put on them to find a tenant to take this on. Given the current situation at the Catford Constitutional Club, maybe Antic would be interested. Although I think that, particularly as the dog track development starts in earnest, the town centre can easily support two high quality pubs! Seeing the CBT sitting empty does no good for anyone.

Want to find out more about what the council are up to for yourself? Ask a question or get to a meeting. They're going to be out and about around the borough so should be coming soon to a venue near you...