Monday 9 May 2016

Patcham problems

In the northern wilds of the city battle lines are being drawn. In Old London Road, Patcham, immediately south of the conservation area, London developers McCarthy & Stone are proposing the demolition of 4 detached houses and their replacement by a large "assisted living" block of apartments. The planning application has not yet been submitted but, if the early proposals come to fruition it would mean that where at present about a dozen people live there would eventually be over 80.

The proposals

The environmental costs would be high. About fifty mature  trees , and most garden shrubbery would be lost. Proposed on-site parking is limited and the development would increase traffic in an already busy area with staff daily competing for the limited parking spaces in nearby, already congested, streets. The area has a flooding problem and to counter this the 3 storey building would be erected on a metre-high concrete platform which would result in it towering above neighbouring property and dominating the streetscape.

Some might argue that in the light of the country's housing needs these are costs that have to be paid and difficulties that have to be overcome or endured wherever the development. Yet a two-storey building of half the size could still make a useful contribution to housing without significantly damaging the  "peaceful suburb, full of leafy streets and large green spaces" that McCartney & Stone boasts of in its brochure.

Obviously maximising profit from the site is the prime concern of the developer. This makes it vital that plans such as these that substantially and suddenly change the essential character of a neighbourhood be subject to rigorous criticism. Without effective opposition the trend would inevitably be for greater densities, greater environmental degradation, wherever development is proposed.

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