As normality slowly begins its return, rightly or wrongly, so do the planning battles. The Planning Inspector will finally be looking at the metal fence Sainsbury’s erected, without planning permission, on the patch of land next to their petrol station in New Cross Gate. It was back in February 2019 when the fence went up, surprising neighbours and shoppers alike.
Any fence that is taller than one metre next to a public highway must receive planning permission before going up. This is because of public safety, what if the view of the road for pedestrians or drivers becomes restricted? We think this is a dangerous crossing for pedestrians due to a lack of lights and the fence doesn’t make it easier to see if any cars are looking to turn into the Sainsbury’s car park.
The patch of land actually falls within the Hatcham Conservation area which means there are restrictions on what could be built there. Essentially, developments must “enhance or preserve” the area. It’s hard to see how a metallic, pokey, daunting fence could contribute positively to the area. We know, we know, the advertising boards aren’t much to look at either but they came up long before we were around as a society. I think they went up before I even knew planning laws existed…
On Saturday, there was a small fire in the bushes enclosed by the fence. I think it must have been from a discarded cigarette, but because the fence was there residents couldn’t stop the spread of the fire but instead had to call the fire brigade. The crew from New Cross Fire station thankfully came within minutes. With the abnormally hot weather not stopping any time soon and a petrol station less than 30 metres away there needs to be a re-think of the fence to make it more accessible in case of similar emergencies.
Lewisham Council issued an enforcement notice for Sainsburys to take down the fence because:
“The development by virtue of its scale, siting, and design has resulted in substantial harm to the appearance of the surrounding environment and is considered to be a bulky and incongruous addition, dominating the street scene and detrimental to the Hatcham Conservation Area contrary to the NPPF (2018) Policies 7.4 and 7.8 of the London Plan (2016), DM Policies 30 and 36 of the Development Management Plan (2014), Core Strategy Policy 15 (2012) and the Hatcham Conservation Area Character Appraisal.”
Sainsbury’s have responded to the appeal by saying: “those matters have not occurred”.
Please respond to the Planning Inspectorate by 1/07/2020 with why you believe the fence should stay or go. It’s best if you refer to the council’s planning policies which they have cited above in your response. Quote reference APP/C5690/C/19/3230266 to ECAT@planninginspectorate.gov.uk Or you can respond on the Planning Inspectorate portal here
You can view the Hatcham Conservation Society’s response to the fence here (but please don’t copy and paste it for your response as it won’t have much weight). Individual responses are the most important in this case.