Archived on 6/5/2022

Bell Green Rejection - Post Decision Commentary

24 Nov '17

This is an extract from on the regrettable decision made to reject the development.

"Lewisham officers commented on the local listing paper that they could nor recommend removing a “permitted development” entitlement from SGN which in normal circumstances would mean that SGN could in the course of normal operation, demolish redundant structures…

Officers reported this could potentially mean it would set precedent for other property owners to call for compensation is similar circumstances. Not least because there are no funds to compensate SGN to refrain from executing their permitted development right to demolish the frames of the gas holder.

The local listing does not prevent SGN from exercising their right to demolish.

Interestingly as I said earlier a more precise and realistic definition of the detrimental impact on the historic setting is defined by officers at 6.28 in their report:

6.28 The current condition of the application site is neither welcoming or conducive to the public use of the already developed areas of the gasworks site. The site is desolate, characterised by a scaffolding yard; a hardstand area for motorcycle training; an overgrown bowling green that has been unused for many years, unsightly galvanised steel fencing around the gasholders; and overgrown hardstand areas for which their only function is to provide access for SGN workers. It may therefore be argued that the site itself is detrimental to the eastern setting of Livesey Hall, and that the redevelopment as proposed would provide an opportunity to enhance the appearance of the site, and its relationship with Livesey Hall as a listed building."

24 Nov '17

Another from

"Not to mention the retention of a desolate site, characterised by a pile of post industrial cast iron scrap (not wanted by Heritage England - even for spares), a scaffolding yard; a hardstand area for motorcycle training; an overgrown bowling green that has been unused for many years, unsightly galvanised steel fencing around the gasholders; and overgrown hardstand areas for which their only function is to provide access for SGN workers and is a rubbish strewn rat infested hazard.

Sweet. The rats are big - historic tour parties will be interesting. Does anyone know how high they can jump ?

Has this been said before ?"

24 Nov '17

And a reflection on what the impact of the rejection is to the site’s real neighbours:

"Our faint hope lay in the potential for compromise in two significant points.

Whichever way the development went - the provision of additional parking to the rear of Livesey Hall for the exclusive use of their patrons is important. Whether that is 10,15 or 20 spaces, these spaces will ease parking and set down pressure on the streets around the hall on event days. For the meantime this will not happen.

Additionally to place double yellow lines all the way from the Selworthy Road/Perry Hill junction on the same side as the hall to the traffic lights at Perry Rise/Perry Hill junction and make this a seven day 24 hour no parking area with set down provision for the two homes affected by it. This would have the benefit of maximising the flow of two lanes of traffic for the entire distance (some 230 metres approx) from that junction to the lights.

Naturally the presence of the Bus Stop will mean occasional delays but the main impact will be that, particularly on Sundays when everyone believes parking restriction are not in play and bumper to bumper parking is the norm, there is a real choke point until you get to within approx 25 metres of the traffic lights.This compounds greatly the tail-back effect.

If this improvement can be implemented perhaps in conjunction with the SCOOT proposal the improvement for Perry Hill and Perry Rise could be significant.

As the development has been rejected, TfL/LB Lewisham would have to fund both this and the SCOOT proposal.

These concerns are substantially more relevant to those of us who dwell in the vicinity of the hall than the retention of the unloved pile behind it."

24 Nov '17

Hello @anon6jg and welcome to this community. I’m can see why not everyone would want these towers next-door, and I sympathise with your position, assuming you live close by and might have preferred the gas holders demolished and developed instead.

That said, I found your six posts (three here and three on the other topic) overwhelming and confusing. They lack their original context so it’s hard to know what’s going on. Maybe I’ll have more luck seeing both sides of the conversation on What is SCOOT, and SGN? Thank you for sharing, in any case.

There are some interesting points in there, and I wonder if anyone from the Forest hill or Sydenham societies will comment on the Bellingham representation question.

Thank you to @pattrembath and @Amanda_Sterling for making your points succinctly.

24 Nov '17


Thank you for the welcome - it is very well made.

And it cuts to the essence of why i have elected to repost here.

The terms SCOOT and SGN are core to understanding what is really happening in this debate.

And realities and issues were not debated in this forum.

SCOOT is a traffic light management system that improves flow of traffic.

SGN are Scotia Gas Networks - ultimate beneficial owners of the site and one of the anchor tenants in the development that has just been rejected.

Neighbourliness is everything - but the degree to which the real local issues were not discussed on this forum is astonishing.

Do visit - its a long and complex dialogue.

24 Nov '17

Thank you for the explanation of SCOOT and SGN - that makes things a lot clearer. I will check out’s discussion too.

This forum lacks the depth of discussion you’ll find on Sydenham Town Forum (I hope you don’t mind me mentioning your competition @anon3821395). Go to STF and I guarantee you’ll find plenty of sympathy with your position. There is a lot of discontent on STF regarding the councillors, the Sydenham Society and their associates. But to be honest it can be repetitive on that site, with the same people going round and round in circles endlessly chasing their own tails.

24 Nov '17


Thank you once more.

Have scrutinised STF. The real issues are also absent from that forum. This is not surprising as Bellingham ward residents do not consider themselves to be part of Sydenham and the historic name Lower Sydenham doesn’t have much currency either. .

I am a resident of Catford for 25+ years and my partner has lived here all her life. I write in because of a unique boundary that cuts across the back of my garden - loose - I know.

We are Bellingham ward residents - the Gas Works were a live entity when I first arrived; British Gas offices were still operative and the archway onto the site was still present. We have watched the redevelopment of this site through all its phases - both its successes and botched failures

We cannot understand why Sydenham Society, STF and FHSoc could anticipate that they could lead on key issues without consulting Bellingham ward residents.

And this latest rejection is a major botch.

24 Nov '17

No problem. I might be the scrappy upstart, but I’m hoping Sydenhamites will see both forums and judge them on their technology and positivity :wink:

24 Nov '17

Just to be clear - while the SydSoc and FHSoc have been campaigning and leading on these issues, is just a forum and our straw poll was for a bit of fun only. We certainly don’t pretend to lead on this issue at all.

From my personal PoV, I think I see both sides of the story and would want a big new Waitrose on the Bell Green site - for purely selfish reasons. I can see why locals would object to that, and also why they’d object to the gas holders remaining.

24 Nov '17

@anon3821395 - no problems at all with that and the straw poll was fun - we have exchanged on SE23 about that.

And nothing I have said impugns the integrity of this board or infers the board itself has lead on any of these matters. Oops revisited this and did say that - let me correct it and say the board itself did not lead on this.

As i have stated - the local issues which had the greatest impact on the real neighbours were not referred to in either of the societies’s submissions. The SydSoc leading on the local listing issue has real protocol issues for me as a Bellingham ward resident. I suspect we will return to that point.

24 Nov '17

I didn’t mean to judge, my apologies. Yes, this site does have the upper hand on both counts and I hope it grows.

28 Nov '17

And here is an image that is appearing on other forums and in the News Shopper today.

I can recognise some of the personnel in it. Additionally I can identify their respective roles in campaigning for this rejection.

But I do need a little more help, can anyone advise on how many are residents of Bellingham Ward.

Can only find one presence in the pic who co-incidentally is a member on @pattrembath.

Being of a balanced outlook I could not possibly comment on whether there is a mis-placed air of triumphalism present or not in the image. Could I be wrong ?

28 Nov '17

I don’t think it’s right to single out Pat, or anyone is it? It’s too late to change this now, I think we should just move on even if we don’t agree with what happened.

28 Nov '17

It is nonsensical to say that @pattrembath is being singled out.

This image has been posted on many sites before I commented.

The real neighbours of the gas holders have been denied significant benefit by this rejection.

The issue will move forward in any number of ways; SGN could demolish the gas holders as they still have the right to do; there may be an appeal and the rejection may be overturned; an alternative development could emerge and the benefits restored.

Patience is a virtue and the real neighbours have waited since 1993 (when the development was first promulgated along with a widening of the road bridge at Southend Lane) for the benefits to be delivered .

Some 24 years.

With a further delay brought about by people who have no accountability for their actions or for the impact on people with whom they have not consulted.

5 Feb '18

New funding update which is very relevant is published in News Shopper today.

A £20 million grant has been awarded to Lewisham Council by the Government to build new homes in Catford and Lewisham town centres.

The grant appears to be specific to town centre sites of which and of course Bell Green unfortunately is not one. So new funding may have been on the horizon at decision time but does not apply to this site.

5 Feb '18

But can I respectfully ask where were the people now posting on this site when the decisions were being taken? None of them attended the planning committee at the town hall, nor did any residents speak in favour of the scheme at the meeting. People had an opportunity to attend two consultation meetings; very few people turned up. And were you one of the over 200 people who attended an open meeting organised by the Sydenham Society at the Livesey Hall at which not a single person spoke in support of the scheme. (Over 1,000 leaflets advertising the meeting were circulated to local streets in advance of the meeting). The consultation by the applicant revealed that many more people were against the scheme than in favour. The only active and well-based group in the locality (These Streets Belong To Us) led the opposition to the scheme and spoke at the planning committee, supported by local ward councillors.

If you believe that the majority of those living close to the planning application approved of it please supply your proof.

5 Feb '18

Strident demand.

SydSoc has no writ to speak of for Bellingham Ward - and their track record along with that of the FHSoc is less than successful in their own area never mind mine.

For accuracy I attended the preliminary consultation meeting at the Livesey and recorded my views with the developers. And recorded them on

The actions that led to the Local Listing appear to have been led by a Sydenham Ward councillor and SydSoc. The authority acknowledges it did not follow its own procedures to advise neighbours that the listing was underway. Our own ward Councillor Allan Hall supported the process.

As to the meeting you refer to - I was out of London for a significant amount of time in 2017 dealing with a family illness and so therefore knew nothing of that meeting - nor indeed was I aware of the existence of the petition that has circa 650 signatories. In a straw poll none of my neighbours professed any knowledge either.

I have prepared an FOI for Lewisham inviting them to explain what checks were conducted on the validity of the petition.

Sydenham Society and Forest Hill Society acted without consulting Bellingham ward residents.

The Victorian Society and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society argued in a context where Heritage England had already declined to list the structures. The rush to get a local listing for the gas holders was incomprehensible on two fronts.

It is rendered meaningless as Lewisham has stated it has no funding to compensate Scotia Gas Networks to induce them to give up their permitted development rights to demolish. And that right remains with SGN still.

And secondly Lewisham’s own officers stated clearly that the existing site and its post industrial condition was of significant detriment to the historic setting of the site that is nationally listed - Livesey Hall.

However my credentials might be defined thus:

Can I see the ribs of the gas holders from my house - yes.

Are my privileges of enjoying freedom to park and set-down on Perry Hill (along with those on Selworthy, Lescombe, Priestfield and Perry Rise) diminished by the absence of parking on site for patrons of Livesey - yes - and very significantly so too.

And I live in Bellingham Ward - where SydSoc and FHSoc elected not to consult.

And it is clear from debate on Sydenham Town Forum that the view that SydSOC acts in a unilateral fashion where even the majority of Sydenham residents do not feel consulted or engaged. It betrays a pattern of behaviour that a majority of reasonable people feel is not transparent or open.

@Barry_Milton - perhaps you can share where you live.

5 Feb '18

Every single councillor at the planning committee voted against this proposal. Are they all in the pay of the Sydenham Society?

This proposal did not have local support. All of the streets surrounding the Savacentre site were leafleted including Bellingham. As I’ve said not a single local resident turned up to the planning meeting supporting the scheme.

The Sydenham Society only acts if local residents surrounding any planning application ask us to and we’ll continue to act in this fashion. Whether or not I happen to live close by is not relevant.

The proposal did not include parking on site for patrons of the Livesey Hall, so I’m very unsure of your claim that this proposal would stop parking in local streets. If anything it would increase parking in local streets.

5 Feb '18

The decision made by committee flies in the face of solid recommendations from its own officers.

It is contrary.

It is a major botch up.

However not once has there been any questions raised until now by you of any impropriety on any members part.

Views have been expressed that significant mistakes have been made. But in every point members and committees are entitled to make these types of decisions.

I have seen no inference in any forum or news article that uses the type of language you employ in your post.

It is my understanding that of the two committees who examined the planning and listing issues, there is only one member’s dissenting voice.

And for the avoidance of doubt the absence of a representative Bellingham body does not give licence to other societies to make representation without consultation.

Commenting on our area without consultation of ward residents is not only unrepresentative but has also damaged the potential delivery of local benefits immeasurably.

Phrases like unrepresentative, intrusive, invasive and non-transparent come to the fore.

Your are mistaken in that there was provision of parking spaces for the use of Livesey patrons in the proposal. Officers acknowledged their inclusion. Perhaps not enough but we get what we get. Most importantly it opened the rear elevation to the Hall and made it more accessible. I cannot quite grasp the meaning of your closing sentence.

Had representations to Bellingham residents been shaped in the form of do you want betterment of on-street parking by way of provision of parking to the rear of the hall for the Hall’s patrons and do you want improvement to traffic flows by the introduction of SCOOT measures - the answer would have been a resounding yes to both points.

But the long-distance, no-consultation societies did not even understand those questions – as you have ably demonstrated today.

5 Feb '18

These phrases are all entirely subjective and I don’t like to see repeated attacks on the Sydenham Society on this forum based on opinion and conjecture.

There’s plenty of that on the other forum - quite possibly a product of one or two members who have a history of complaint against the society and form a vocal minority. A very negative one, at that.

This forum will be a place where we can effect positive change in Sydenham.

That will not be achieved by back-biting retroactively against actions made (or not made) by societies whom Sydenham residents are free to join and influence.

5 Feb '18

The comments are entirely objective and supported by the evidence on the ground. None of these parties have introduced a single Bellingham resident who is in support of their case.

This poster’s stated determination to continue to behave in this unrepresentative fashion needs a firm rebuttal. For example there is no statement by the poster as to who in Bellingham “asked us” - and by that I assume that he means SydSOC…

5 Feb '18

It is your responsibility to create a Bellingham Society if you think Bellingham residents are under-represented in matters of local planning and development.

This forum will not be the soapbox for any individual that wishes to campaign against the Sydenham Society and its huge investment in representing the opinion of Sydenham residents.

You have made a lot of posts in this regard, and you have mixed statements of fact with statements that are subjective.

Adding more facts is very welcome.

However, please do not dominate this discussion with a hostile narrative towards a local society on the basis of your personal disagreement. There are other forums that welcome this. does not.

Let’s allow others to participate.

5 Feb '18

We have discussed the formation of Bellingham society elsewhere - but this is the first time you have postulated that I have any such personal responsibility. Irrespective of any rationale you attach to it. Any argument on the principle of the fact that the absence of a Bellingham society is an open invitation for others to inject themselves as representatives of a ward’s residents just cannot and does not hold water.

It is nonsensical to state that anyone is campaigning against SydSoc on this forum. The matter that is subject of a “campaign” is what is necessarily to be the right outcome for the completion of the Bell Green development. For which I have had an interest since 1993 - so no short term-ism on my part by wasting time on SydSoc’s problems.

You have no evidence for any hostile narrative here on re SydSoc. I have commended both societies in many of the fields in which they operate.

Then again you may have mistakenly included valid criticism of past actions - and from those we have to learn lessons to prevent their re-occurrence when the next proposal emerges.

I see your belated edit and the addition of the request to to allow others to participate.

You have my wholehearted concurrence on that point.

5 Feb '18

I live near the site and personally don’t think that we need another supermarket there. Sydenham already has a massive Sainsbury’s, two Lidls and a Tesco - do we really need an Aldi as well?

I’d also be concerned about the impact that this could have on pollution in the area. The Bell Green roundabout is already really congested, and with a primary school just next to the site, surely we should be trying to do everything possible to bring pollution levels down?

I personally like the look of the gas towers, I think they bring an interesting dimension to the local skyline. However I do appreciate that space is at a premium in the city and so if they are going to be demolished, then much needed housing would be a better option, in my opinion…

7 Feb '18

I live on the corner of Perry Rise and see the horror of Sports Direct and the road to the site in question looming large as i leave my house. I categorically do not want to see another supermarket because of the pollution and the fact there are already continuous traffic fumes and noise now.

What proof do you have that the majority of people of Bellingham think differently? Why did they not set up their own petition? It is definitely the case that some people have an issue with parking in the area becasue of the church and the Livesey Hall but that does not mean people are automatically in favour of more retail.

As for the Sydenham Society, the petition on change UK was originally started by a local Catford resident aginst more road pollution. Is the suggestion that those of us who live with in spitting distance of the site and greatly affected but not in Bellingham don’t get a say but those who might live in an area of Bellingham some distance away and completely unaffected by the change do get a say? How does that work?

8 Feb '18

Quite right! There are shades here too. I can see the gas holders from my upstairs window and I think they look great, and I’d love to see them remain, and I don’t really want an Aldi, but would not mind ‘the right kind of’ retail (but not sure what that is), or social housing. my son is at Little Elms Nursery, opposite Livesy Hall, so I’m against anything that gives us more traffic, but not necessarily against redevelopment per se.

12 Feb '18

I like the gasholders too. I hope someone has some vision for what can happen to the site.

13 Feb '18

I havent read through the endless threads. However wouldn’t it be good to have them developed into housing using the structure so it can still be visible?

These towers were shortlisted for New London Awards in 2015 recognising the best new and proposed architecture, planning and developments.

13 Feb '18

Sorry Teresa but this discussion has been had many times over with all of the plans/CGI of Kings X being posted countless times in other threads.The general consensus is Bell Green would not support the extremely high building costs of such a development.