Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Banking On Flats

There have been whisperings and rumours but this afternoon it appears confirmed that the owners of 2-4 Green Lane may have changed their mind and would rather build flats than a Mosque on the site - if they are indeed still the owners...

A full planning application was recently received by Sutton Council planning department, detailing plans to turn the building into 3 self-contained flats, or 5 if an additional floor extension could be added. The application can be seen on the council website although not all documents are expected to be available there until next week. Thanks to Cllr Hookway for passing this information on to me.

While this will be welcome news almost universally, it is an odd development for a building where the owners fought so hard to get something and then seem to want now to just let it go. Speculation has already begun that perhaps it's a ruse to build an extra floor and then revert to the Mosque application again in a larger building. Of course the application which was allowed on appeal was for a limited number of worshippers due to the well known local traffic and parking problems on which the original objections were based, so it is unlikely that this is the case, given that a larger Mosque would create no real advantage for them. However given the mysterious recent history of this building, anyone could be forgiven for thinking that nothing can really be 'considered off the table'.

While we're on wild speculations, perhaps other are wondering if they had planned for flats all along and the whole Mosque proposal was just a ruse to soften up the community so that when they finally proposed a three story block of flats we all throw our hands up and yell yes please, yes please!

It has also been noted that the plans do not seem to include any provision for car parking so that if any of the new flat owners have cars, they will be parked in the street nearby. So this still isn't an ideal plan. Of course many people in London don't have cars and if it so happens that if this goes ahead, all the new occupants also don't have cars, it would work out rather well. But there can never be any guarantee of that. As was pointed out during the Mosque appeal, Worcester Park may have good transport links, but some places are still reached far more easily by private vehicle. Public transport is only good when both the start point and the destination are served by good, interlinked transport links.

The applicant in this case is a Mr Danish Hanif, so not the original Mosque applicant. Perhaps the building was quietly sold?

Either way I think few would disagree that out of the present alternatives, this is easily the most favourable one for the community.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Final Appeal

Blog reader and occasional contributor Richard Johnson has started a campaign to save the last two 'original villas' in Central Road. He has sent me the following piece which I have chosen to post verbatim:

Proposed Replacement (Intended design superimposed over own photo and following the colour scheme indicated.)
Please send an objection to this planning application TODAY using the details and method below. [Friday 5th February is the last day of public consultation for this application] The superimposed drawing on the second photo shows the colours of the intended building, as indicated in the planning application: it's truly repulsive!

A while ago, I mentioned (on Facebook) that a planning application is seeking to demolish the only remaining residential houses in our high street. Since looking into both the current building and the planning application, it has become increasingly clear that this will be extremely detrimental to the Worcester Park community and our heritage for a number of reasons (below).

If you agree and feel motivated to stop this planning application, please send a very quick email of objection to the planning officer, by this very quick method. [And remember, you don't have to live in Worcester Park or even the London Borough of Sutton to object to this planning application - anyone can!]

Send an email copying the following subject line:

Copy and paste the below email addresses and send the email to two recipients (Sutton Planning and the Planning Officer):

All are welcome to copy and paste as many of these reasons for objection as you agree with and add any more of your own: 
Reasons for objection:

1. The Edwardian villas at 19-21 Central Road are the only remaining original residential properties, which once stretched along one half of the full length of Central Road - they are unique and losing them will be a huge loss to our and future generations' local heritage.

2. These Edwardian villas are excellent examples of their type, with the original structure and internal fittings still in place: According to the last tenants, there were no noted structural issues and inside, the original tiled fireplaces and plaster ceilings were still in place. Historic England (formerly English Heritage) have been notified (by myself, as a resident), and it was confirmed that they had never been informed of this building and have never had the opportunity of assessing its heritage value. [I am submitting a formal request for Historic England’s listing and protection of this building].

3. The proposed replacement is, by contrast, truly hideous, being twice the size and with external surfaces consisting of a multitude of clashing colours: brick red, blue/grey, yellow/brown and stained boards. [These colours have been added, following the colour key on the planning application]. Should this awful application be passed, the outcome for the area and the community will be hugely detrimental.

4. Central Road in Worcester Park already has an excess supply of 15-20 retail units at any time, with the recent additions lying empty and unable to find a tenant - it certainly doesn't need more empty retail units. The current building is an office with private rooms leading off a main reception area - this is something we are comparatively short of. The previous tenants and clients liked the environment and found it ideal for an office based business. Offices are reducing at a rapid rate.

5. Returning the building to use as a GP surgery: In just the next few months alone, there will around 500 extra residential family homes within 1 mile of this location and all those 1,500 residents will need a GP. We already have a nationwide, critical shortage of GPs with many local residents struggling to register or get an appointment. This building was a GP surgery and remains an ideal environment and location to meet this growing excess demand: the layout inside remains as it was then. There are 5,000 extra GPs in training, who will need a location for a practice and the current building is ideal. [NHS Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group have been informed of the details: It surprised me to learn that nobody within Sutton Council or at Councillor level bothers to notify Sutton CCG when buildings ideally suited as GP surgeries become available].

6. The Edwardian villas were once the GP surgery of Dr. Arthur Belilios, a locally and nationally much respected and esteemed doctor, who taught in the surrounding Boroughs and practiced here. He also authored a number of medical text books. His father, Dr. David Aaron Belilios had been a pioneer, campaigning for access to essential healthcare nationally, for all. To destroy this building would be the destruction of our heritage on many levels. David’s brother was also a doctor, based in Hong Kong. There, a school proudly took the family name. Meanwhile, here in Sutton, the only thing you’ll find on their former surgery is a planning notice to demolish it!

7. In Sutton, we have already lost much of our heritage. The entire Borough has barely 50 buildings listed with Historic England, which compares with well over 100 in Kingston and almost 400 in Epsom & Ewell. In Sutton, within Worcester Park, there is not even a single building listed. Because so much has already gone, this building is especially valuable and well loved.


Please submit an email to object to this planning application today, as this is the final day of planning consultation. And please include you name and address on the email, to verify that the objection is real. You can see the full planning application here:

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Vic House - Intruder Window

An intruder in Victoria House nearly injured a passer-by this afternoon after they threw an object through a top floor window narrowly missing a pedestrian below as he waited at the traffic lights to cross the London Road.

The object (left) is about 30cm long, weighs about half a kilogram and is thought to be a window opener. The glass from the smashed window showered the pavement near the wooden seat in front of the derelict building.

Shortly before the item was thrown, a person wearing a blue or black hooded jacket, who appeared to be adult because of their height, was seen through the window on the upper floor. The Police were called, interviewed the pedestrian and walked around the building but the blog understands they didn't enter the premises or make any arrests.

The picture at the top was taken at the weekend and shows the in tact window circled. The picture on the right taken today shows the same window now smashed.

Not So Secure

It looks as if the intruders are getting in and out down the alleyway between the Favourite Chicken shop and where Ladbrokes used to be.

Alan Plant, chair of the local Chapra residents association (Church Hill, Abbots, Priory Residents' Association) of which Church Hill Road runs along the back of Victoria House, had recently alerted the area's councillors and the police to the section of razor wire which had been cut and removed at the top of the wall here (behind the dumped car and other rubbish). At the time there was no ladder there, but when I went to take a look at the weekend, the ladder had been placed conveniently against the wall there. There is only a short drop on the other side to the vehicle ramp into the building.

In an email today to Home Group, the owners of the building Alan asked:
"Does someone need to get killed or seriously injured before you do something to rectify your security issues. Clearly there is no alarm or detection within the raised accommodation block or the response would have been actioned by yourselves and not the local public."
Waiting Waiting

Victoria House continues to exist, against the wishes of most members of the public, having been subject to several false starts when it looked as if it was going to be knocked down and replaced with something else.

A couple of years ago it looked as if the then owners, Stonegate Homes were going to replace it with this not unreasonable design on the left here. By most people's standards it was a great deal better than what is currently there, and at the ends of the day, no one is going to build anything unless they have a good chance of making some money by doing so. 

That was all scuppered when, after receiving planning permission for this design, Stonegate sold the property to Home Group, the current owners.

Home Group asked a number of agencies to submit new plans for a replacement building and selected one from Collective Architecture that local people could agree on. Unfortunately what they seem to agreed on was that this new design is awful and that the previous Stonegate plan was much better. The new design, revealed early last year (here on the right) is effectively three tower blocks. They said they wanted a gap to let the sunshine through but that means stark tower blocks instead of a more gently rising affair.

In a recent comment, blog reader Martin drew my attention to an interesting alternative design for Victoria House which made me realise that Home Group hadn't even selected the best design out of the ones they had been given.

This design on the left from ECD Architects is certainly a superior design to the 'three towers' one currently being foisted upon us.

I still prefer the Stonegate one but at least this one is better than the eyesore that is currently there. The same can't fully be said for the North Cheam towers design.

Martin told the blog:
"I think the ECD architects proposal does look a lot better than the previous one from Home Group (and the Stonegate 'approved' plans before that), especially if all the trees and greenery is actually included and maintained into maturity over the long term and not just for the initial artist impressions.
The tower section as shown at 12 floors is far too tall and overpowering for North Cheam crossroads but the later report from Paul Scully that I linked too on the blog does say Home Group have since reduced the height to a max of 10 storeys after the public lets hope they get on with it and demolish the existing eyesore ASAP!"
The blog understands that Home Group are putting the final polish on their planning application to submit to Sutton Council, after apparently 'listening' to local people. We shall see...

One thing is for sure - they certainly need to get their security sorted out on the existing site ASAP.

Emergency Off Manor Drive

For those wanting to know about all the emergency services around The Manor Drive near Avondale Avenue and Manor Way this morning, apparently there was a nasty accident bringing two fire engines, two ambulances and several police vehicles to the area at around 11am. The Air Ambulance was also needed and landed on the Parochial School's playing field.

It seems a wall had collapsed in a house that builders were working on and somebody underneath was crushed. Extent of injuries are not know as yet but it is hoped that the victim (and patient) will have been helped by the timely arrival of all the emergency vehicles.

The blog wishes them a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Snake Care

Have you lost your snake? Blog reader Renuka contacted me earlier today about the small colourful snake she found in Mortimer Crescent (off Grafton Road at the end of The Avenue) while on a run this morning.

She sent me this photo from the internet, adding:
"It is about the same size but with more white parts and the orange is paler. From what I can gauge from the internet, it is a baby corn snake that has probably hatched within the last few weeks . It is also very cute, and probably hungry. It does not seem to be too interested in dog food and I will not feed it small dead mammals."
So if you appear to have misplaced your snake, please make contact so we can help reunite you.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Go Slumming

I often get mail from people who are looking to promote something in Worcester. I guess they've done a search for Worcester Blogs or some such thing and put all the results in a database for mass emailings later on.

One recent one which came through was interesting none the less. It began:
"Dear Denz (sic), 
I wondered if you may be able to help me spread the word about a new BBC living history series in the Worcester area. We are hoping to find participants to take part in an experiment where modern day people will live for 3 weeks as Victorians did in 1870. Ideally, we would like to find families and couples whose ancestors may have struggled living in the poorest areas of Victorian Britain, who now lead a comfortable lifestyle and would like to take advantage of this unique opportunity. 
Given the nature of your website, The Worcester Park Blog, I wondered if you may have a mailing list of contacts or businesses in the area that you could pass some details along to?"
I felt it best to set the poor soul straight and so replied:
"Hi Laura, 
Thanks for your email, 
Worcester Park in on the London/Surrey border and nowhere near Worcester. If you wanted to change it to the Worcester Park area I'd be happy to help. 
All the best 
Surprisingly she replied back saying they "would be very interested in spreading the word around the London and Surrey areas. We are hoping to find people who have a connection to the East End of London or whose ancestors may have struggled in some of the poorer parts of Victorian Britain."

And so dear reader, an opportunity beckons for all those frustrated celebrities who wouldn't mind living like their ancestors did in the Victorian Slums. (They could set it in Victoria House - appropriately our very own slum!) Please see the poster here for more details - click on it for a larger version.

You can also visit the Wall To Wall (production company) website, email them or phone them on 0207 241 9228 if you are interested.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Jumbling Scouts

Those local Scouts are at it again. Their regular jumble sale is on again tomorrow afternoon, starting at 2:30pm (like it says in the pictures.)

There is normally lots of stuff to browse and buy - think of a charity shop having eaten magic beans - well you get my drift...

And all the profits go to help our local Scouts which has got to be a good thing!

So pop along and enjoy the afternoon browsing the brik-a-brack and munching the muffins.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Hair And Beauty

Changes in the high street continue to rumble on, this time in the beauty sector. Few could have failed to notice the grey curtains drawn across inside the front of Kims.

Regular readers will no doubt be glad to hear that the shop has not closed but is being renovated. The works started around two weeks ago and are about half way through so they are looking to open up with a brand spanking new look shop about half way through February.

Many will also have noticed another new beauty shop opening where the sadly lamented Mini Mart gave up the struggle after a mere two months, over two and a half years ago now. 

The new shop opened on the 16th January by Radhika who previously owned another such business but has relocated to the area. Hopefully this beauty shop will last a great deal longer than the previous occupants.

Surprisingly we certainly don't seem to have yet hit saturation point with hair and beauty shops in Central Road. So I'm sure this one will fit right in.

Make It Your Business

Last September saw the d├ębut Worcester Park Business Networking Event held at the Royal British Legion. The event received very good feedback and this coming Wednesday a second such event is being held - also at the RBL.

This idea is for local business people and stakeholders (a term I'll use here to mean people with some degree of influence and dependency in the area) to get together for an informal chat over a drink about the state of things in the area.

The event is being run by the Worcester Park Stakeholders Group, and generally organised by Cllr Richard Marston. It starts at 6pm and runs until around about 8pm.

So if you feel like having yak about business related things with people in a similar situation or people who may have some influence over those things - come along to the Business Networking Event on Wednesday.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Pound Shop Criminal

An ex-employee at Poundland was caught videoing customers at the cash register on his last day on the job. The cashier had placed his mobile phone on the shelf behind customers and set it to record the transactions as he served people on the Wednesday before last (6th January).

His plan was rumbled when when a customer noticed the phone on the shelf and asked if someone had left it there by mistake. The cashier said it was his but it was seen to be in video recording mode and the supervisor was called.

His explanation was that as it was his last day he had wanted to take a video of him working there as memorabilia. However customers weren't convinced and considered he might have been videoing them putting their pin numbers into the card payment machine so as to use the information for theft and other criminal activity at a later date.

The supervisor deleted the video he had taken although this unfortunately meant there was nothing to show the police who had been alerted but will nonetheless be carrying out an investigation in conjunction with Poundland management.

Meanwhile anyone who has shopped at Poundland on or prior to Wedneday 6th Januray is advised to check card accounts for any fraudulent transactions.