Bexley Council is consulting on what the priorities should be for spending money obtained from developers who are given planning permissions. The deadline is 5p.m. Fri March 2nd. E-mail views to SP>firstname.lastname@example.org You may wish to draw on the following suggestions put forward by Bexley Natural Environment Forum. These are somewhat generic, so more proposals about specific local areas, particularly in the north of the Borough – which is being earmarked for most of the extra concrete – would be valuable. Left to its own devices the Council is likely to go for more ‘hard’ infrastructure, so we should argue in favour of enhanced green/blue infrastructure instead. Apologies for not flagging this up until close to the deadline.
Bexley Council’s call for comments is set out at the foot of this post, after the BNEF submission. This also covers an on-line survey option for responses.
Future state of Bexley … The Council wants ever more building in the Borough, including taller structures and denser arrangements, supported by more ‘infrastructure’ paid for by developer contributions. We need to argue for an emphasis on green/blue ‘infrastructure for wildlife, human well-being and sustainability.
Bexley Natural Environment Forum, the umbrella group for Friends of parks and open spaces and wildlife conservationists in the Borough.
Chris Rose, Vice-chair.
CiL spending – ‘infrastructure’ priorities response.
Over the past three years Bexley Council has approved building on substantial parts of several Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation and adjacent areas that on objective biodiversity grounds should have been within their boundaries. Bexley’s ‘growth strategy’ sets out plans to build on more SINCs, as well as other open spaces. Meanwhile the general environmental situation worsens, and there is a UK and global biodiversity crisis. At the same time we are recognising the physical and mental health benefits of open spaces and nature.
It is the contention of BNEF that the priority for spending CiL monies should therefore be on protecting and enhancing open spaces for wildlife, for ‘ecosystem service’ provision and health and well-being. Also on measures that will reduce resource use and improve self-reliance and resilience in an increasingly resource-constrained world. These should be implemented in such a way that the less well off are prioritised.
It should be noted that in seeking to improve sites for wildlife, BNEF is not agreeing that Bexley Council’s de facto policy of claiming to protect and enhance biodiversity whilst seeking to cram it into ever less space is either credible or acceptable.
– Money should be spent on implementing more of the Biodiversity Action Plan, which appears to be stalled and is now 2 years out of date. This should follow a review involving local wildlife experts and relevant Friends groups. This would include, for example, the heathland re-creation objective. [Relevant to many parts of the Borough].
– Work with local wildlife experts to identify and map ‘key habitat features’ in the Borough that fall outside of SINCs, but should be protected e.g. key House Sparrow roost hedges. [Relevant to many parts of the Borough].
– The proposal in the Parks and Open Spaces strategy to improve **at least** 15 of them for biodiversity should continue to be implemented, pushing well beyond 15. Some of this is as simple and cheap as cutting less grass and less often …. [Relevant to many parts of the Borough].
– Fund the existing plans for further River Shuttle enhancements/restoration.
– Contribute to the removal of the Vitbe Mill sluice on the River Cray and its replacement with a double rock weir (as proposed by the EA) in order to enable Eel (in serious conservation trouble) and Brown Trout to repopulate the river whilst retaining water levels below Maiden Lane and reducing flood risk. Fish ladders on the weir at Crayford Rough etc. are of little use unless this is done.
– The restoration of tree-planting funding is welcome, but this should be extended to hedges, especially in important areas for House Sparrows e.g. around the rest of the Erith School fields.
Consider establishing an orchard at Danson Park in the area to the left beyond the Crook Log entrance (opposite the tennis courts and leading to the bowling green) in order to recognise the fruit-growing heritage of the Borough up to the 1930s, and make better use of an under-utilised part of the park.
– Setting up mini-nurseries for native trees and shrubs in under-utilised parts of school fields, using locally-collected seed. This would provide a valuable educational resource as well.
– Produce materials encouraging people not to pave over gardens (increases localised heating, increases water run-off, reduces wildlife and damages the aesthetic qualities of the Borough) and, for example, to improve permeability for Hedgehogs and other ground-living wildlife. See:
This becomes even more important as Bexley Council promotes ‘densification’ and loss of ever more green space, including gardens. Those left should not be car parks.
Money should also be spent on taking enforcement action against those who, having paved over their garden, think that gives them the right to treat the grass verge outside as part of their private driveway, rather than the public asset it is.
[Relevant to many parts of the Borough, but particularly parts that are already more densely ‘developed’ and more grey and sterile].
– Community capacity-building – add wildlife conservation thinking and habitat management training to the horticultural training scheme that was recently instituted, since open spaces managed by Friends groups should be a key part of any biodiversity enhancement work (not just ‘tidying’ things up), and relevant know-how and skills could well be lacking.
– Run wildlife identification courses and develop the capacity to establish accurate distribution and Borough-wide **population size** data for BAP species so that planning decisions can properly assess whether proposals are consistent with Bexley’s ‘protecting and enhancing biodiversity’ and ‘protected and priority species’ policies. At present it is repeatedly being taken as read that there is no significant impact without any data being produced for a proper Borough level overview or an assessment of cumulative effects.
– Offer subsidised Swift and House Martin nest-boxes/cups to residents in/immediately around the known nesting aggregations, in order to enhance the relevant housing estates, increase engagement with nature and support declining species. [Relevant to several parts of the Borough, including the Chandler’s Drive/West Street area where open space is being sold off for ‘development’, also close to the Erith town centre scheme].
– Fund a demonstration zero-carbon/Passivhaus, car-free house or three in the Borough to push on beyond existing building standards. The existing ‘Core Strategy’ was supposed to identify a site or more for such developments, but nothing appears to have been done about this. Make part of it open to the public so they can see how to make their homes more energy efficient. [Target one of the north of the Borough development areas for this].
– Retrofit buildings with brown roofs to help offset loss of ground-level wildlife habitat and improve insulation.
– If legal (or set up an arms-length body), lease residential roofs, install solar and split the FiT payments with the residents.
– Pump-prime facilities for local re-use of recyclate. Help set up a wood recycling yard, for example. A recycling rate of just over 50% is not good enough. We should be creating local jobs as part of a plan to dramatically improve this.
– Remove excessive hard-surfacing and re-vegetate.
– Deploy (more) camera traps in known fly-tipping grot spots.
London Borough of Bexley
For Immediate Release
05 February 2018 / PR 10668
Help decide the infrastructure priorities in your area
From today (5 February), the Council is inviting local people to share their views on how to spend the Local Community Infrastructure Fund.
The fund is the local element of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), a charge developers pay to build in the borough. The Council must allocate 15% of the money raised towards improving infrastructure, such as schools and transport, which is needed to support new homes and businesses.
In comparison to other London boroughs, Bexley’s CIL charges are relatively low because development is generally more profitable in other parts of London.
Charging came into effect in April 2015 and since then £1.6 million has been collected, currently leaving £240,000 to spend on infrastructure improvements that are needed in areas being developed.
The fund is split between areas in the borough depending on the level of development. It will only be spent in an area once an appropriate level of funding has been collected.
It is used to provide, improve, replace, operate or maintain infrastructure, or on anything else affected by development demands. It can also be used to contribute towards schemes or strategic projects, normally funded by the wider CIL fund, that clearly benefit neighbourhoods affected by development.
Cllr Linda Bailey, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth, said: “We’ve already set out a list of suggested priorities, which include improving educational, sports, leisure and health facilities, enhancing open spaces, pavements and pathways, and improving public transport facilities and connections. But we really want to hear from our residents so that we can factor in what matters to them most, so please make sure you have your say.
The survey, which is also available online (www.bexley.gov.uk/communityinfrastructure), will be open until 5pm on Friday 2 March.
Alternatively residents can email SP>email@example.com or write to the Strategic Planning and Growth Team, London Borough of Bexley, Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath DA6 7AT.
A copy of the consultation can be viewed during normal office hours at the Civic Offices or at Bexley libraries.
Responses will be used to inform how the Council prioritises the spending of its local CIL. Details of CIL collection and spend is reported in the CIL Annual Monitoring Report, which is on the Council website.