Good evening Chair and Members of the Committee
My name is Annabel Sidney – I am the Chair of the Crystal Palace Triangle Planning Group and the Picture Palace Cinema Campaign.
May I thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity to speak.
I would begin by respectfully reminding the committee that just because the applicant has spent £1.25 million pounds, at risk, on a building without the correct planning permission, the committee should not feel under any pressure to approve.
The applicant repeatedly describes 25 Church Road as tired, redundant and inactive. We would point out that the building was in active use for commercial purposes until its purchase by the applicant in June this year.
The thousands of objections lodged with Bromley should not, as the applicant suggests, be distilled down to a simple argument of Cinema v Church. The objections focus on a much more fundamental issue. Namely the critical importance to the future regeneration of Crystal Palace and maintaining the vitality of our district centre by retaining this D2 building.
Were the application to be granted it would prevent the chance of a D2 operator opening here – depriving our area of employment opportunities, income for complementary businesses and also the creation of an anchor point to attract both footfall and new business to Church road.
An 18th D1 use by a non local congregation would have a catastrophic effect on an already fragile economy. If anything, the district centre needs more leisure uses not less to ensure the proper functioning of the economy.
The applicant is proposing a condition on restricting numbers. Such considerations would not meet the Officer’s reasons for refusal and would not achieve their purpose of restricting car attraction.
The Triangle already struggles to cope with traffic and parking, and comparative data from 4 other KICC sites demonstrates that car usage is consistently between 62 & 75% irrespective of location, PTALS, whether there are mini buses or green travel plans.
The applicant proposes a number of community uses which we note are in many cases aimed at promoting the applicant’s brand and generating income for the church. The irreparable harm to regeneration and vitality and unjustifiable increase in both traffic and parking would not be offset by these suggested uses.
Finally, the applicant has implied that the building could remain unoccupied falling into further disrepair if they are not given change of use.
This is outrageous.
KICC’s trustees are bound in law to manage charitable assets correctly. Leaving a property worth £1.25 million empty so it deteriorates would not meet the standards expected of the charity’s trustees.
Leaving the building empty is simply not an option for the KICC. They would need review whether to lease or sell the building to a D2 operator in the event that D1 use is refused.
KICC cannot let a valuable asset bought with charitable funds rot indefinitely and, in the unfortunate event that they do, the committee can rest assured that we would invite the Charity Commission to intervene.
For all of these reasons, we would respectfully request that the planning officer’s recommendation of outright refusal be followed.