One of my photos

Broadfield House

May 21st, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 11 Comments · Politics

The Crawley Observer has a story about an application to turn Grade II listed Broadfield House into apartments.  Looking at the plans the proposal is to cram 12 apartments into the building, which will mean, I guess, that there is no obligation to include any affordable housing at all.   The publicity came about because a lady who used to live there was visiting the place and saw the planning notice stuck to a lamp post.

A spokesman for the council said:

It looks like four or five trees may have to be cut down to make way for a car park, but this is not a decision made by the council.

Eh?  This is surprising for two reasons.  Firstly its a surprise there are any trees there to be cut down after the recent butchery and ground-clearance related to work on the flood management side of the pond.  The other surprise is that the cutting down of trees is nothing to do with the council.   It may well be that the application is being made by the lessees of Broadfield House, a recruitment company, but the actual land owner that they lease the building from is… Crawley borough council, who also make the decision on the planning application.  If the council’s planning committee feel that losing trees is unacceptable they just turn down the application.   If the council generally don’t like the trees being lost they must have some influence as landowners. Saying it is not the council’s decision is just plain wrong.

Only a month ago the Tories listed as one of their promises to ‘fight unnecessary developments in Broadfield’.   Here we have a development of what will probably be ‘luxury’ flats: certainly not the affordable housing for key workers or youngsters that the area really needs.  Not only that, but the plans could involve losing some of the few trees which survived the recent work there.  Not only that, but access to the site seems to be from the A23, despite there being room to use Highwood Park as the access.

Back when the Highwood Park development was still at the design brief stage it was made very clear that there should not be access via the A23 for several reasons.  One was so that the new development would feel like part of Broadfield and not be isolated.  Mind you, it was also made very clear that there should be traffic calming on Woodmans Hill as a planning condition and that never happened since the developers wriggled out of their section 106 agreement.

Making a real mockery of the spokesman’s comments, the plans show that the development includes land that is not currently in the lease for the building.  That means that the whole thing can only go ahead if the council allow more of the current public area to be enclosed as part of the private development so whether the trees are worth keeping or not there is no way they can say it is not their decision.

No doubt the fabric of the building will be improved by re-development, but the whole place is going to be surrounded by a great big fence obscuring half of the facade.

So to sum it all up, there is an application to provide more housing of the type more likely to attract people into the town than to meet the needs of those already here, it will result in the loss of some more trees,  partially obscure the facade of the grade II listed building, remove (an admittedly) small part of the park from public use, and have no connection to the community of Broadfield as access will be from the A23.  No doubt there will be some financial benefit to the council as landowners, even if only for the agreement to enclose extra land.

It ticks all the boxes for ‘unnecessary development’  so I expect the three Broadfield Tory councillors, one of whom is part of the executive, to be fighting this energetically as they said in their (illegal) leaflets last month and if they cannot persuade the planning committee on June 2nd to turn it they should be persuading the council to not sell/transfer the land needed for the application.  I expect it in the same way as I expect West Ham to win the league next season.

Tags: ····

11 Comments so far ↓

  • Mr Mike

    looks like the application has been withdrawn

  • Skuds

    So it has. It didn’t say that last night – the power of the Internet eh? 🙂

  • skud's sister

    So, does that mean we are in for a good season next year then? Or are we still in airborne pig territory…

  • Shirley


    I was the lady who lived at Broadfield and I have had a letter today 6th October 2008 to say the plans are back on and that it is going to be converted afterall.

  • Our House

    […] to the recent comments box to the right of this page will have seen a comment from Shirley that the plans to turn Broadfield House into flats have been submitted to the council again.  The plans for conversion of the building and for […]

  • Louise Allen

    I am horrified at the plans for Broadfield House. It is just the way things are, people can “make a fast buck”. It is a beautiful house and they will wreck it. They did this to the lovely Dennis Hall round here, too.

    • Shirley

      I agree Louise. But I have heard that it may now become a school, which is a much better proposition. Can anyone tell me if this is correct?

  • Richard W.

    Correct Shirley. A “Free School”. I’ll give it 6 months, maybe even a year (if propped up with ‘Free Enterprise’ money).

  • Shirley

    Thanks Richard.

  • Skuds

    I don’t really like the sound of these plans. How much of the land around the house which is currently available to everybody (and a nature reserve?) will get given to the school for use as a playground? How much of the land will get tarmac on it to for car parking? How much funding will get diverted from other local schools for this experiment?

    Apart from anything else I’m still a bit suspicious of Montessori schools, the lack of any need for qualifications for teachers, and the general meaninglessness of the descrition Montessori anyway.

    Can’t the net effect of this on Broadfield as being anything other than negative.

  • Richard

    I smell a ‘Billingsgate aroma’ around the whole enterprise.

    Wasn’t there a Broadfield House Preservation Society or something – Alan Quirk (Con) was involved (if my memory serves me correctly)…not a good sign.

    Wasn’t there also the private utility Thames Water Authority/McQuarrie wanting to build a pipeline through the Park or something ?

    This ‘free school’ idea – one of eight nationwide apparently – has already been described as “divisive”….and I am always very suspicios when politicians use language like “free” – there are no ‘free lunches’…free market, free enterprise. There is nothing of the kind in the world of realpolitik.

    The whole thing looks extremely dodgy to me.