City & Country now has the go ahead to convert the stunning Sundridge Park Mansion into 22 new residential apartments, after it successfully appealed two separate planning applications that had been refused by Bromley Council.
Additionally, the Planning Inspector has awarded full costs associated with the appeals against Bromley Council, for unreasonable behaviour.
After acquiring the site in 2014, City & Country first submitted a planning application to convert the Mansion into 22 apartments in 2015, which despite an Officers’ Recommendation to approve, was refused at Committee. City & Country then worked with Officers to amend the proposal to try to achieve a consent, prior to Appeal to achieve a swifter result and to avoid the risks associated with the listed building being vacant, the costs of the Appeal and the associated waste of public money. This subsequent application for 20 apartments, which was again recommended for approval, was also refused in March 2017.
After the Appeal, which was held in May, the Planning Inspector swiftly allowed both Appeals, commending City & Country’s proposals for the unique site in the Decision Notice, stating “these are schemes of conversion and extension which have evolved from a thorough assessment of the significance of the building and meaningful engagement with relevant stakeholders. Both appeal schemes represent a commendable response to the challenges of bringing this very important heritage asset back into viable residential use’.
Helen Moore, Managing Director of City & Country, said:
“We are absolutely delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has allowed us to progress our plans for Sundridge Park Mansion. It is imperative that the future of such an historic and architecturally significant site, which after all is one of only eight Grade 1 listed buildings in Bromley, is secured for the benefit of current and future generations. This has been an unnecessarily long and arduous process and one which has not only put this stunning building at unnecessary risk, but has wasted public money in these times of austerity. The ultimate decision was delayed by local politics and the interests of a vociferous minority; with expert evidence from the likes of Historic England seemingly completely disregarded. This is why the Inspector awarded full costs against Bromley Council for unreasonable behaviour.
Moore, elaborated, “This is a fundamental flaw of the planning process, where decisions such as these are in the hands of local politicians rather than professional planners and experts. When dealing with nationally important heritage assets, delay is even more damaging to being able to successfully secure their viable future restoration.”
Grade I listed, Sundridge Park Mansion was designed by Sir John Nash, with the surrounding parkland designed by Humphry Repton – one of only four collaborations ever completed by the celebrated duo.
Dating back to 1200, the Sundridge Estate is a nationally significant heritage asset that has passed through the hands of English nobility, including the Bishop of Rochester.
Most recently used as a hotel and event facility, the Mansion owes its existence to Edward George Lind, who in 1792 set about greatly improving the estate, enlisting the help of Repton, who is often considered the successor to Capability Brown.
It famously received Repton’s “Red Book” treatment. To help potential clients visualise his ideas, Repton produced his “Red Books” although the Sundridge one is bound in navy, illustrated with annotated watercolours and overlays to show 'before' and 'after' views. Repton advised on the siting of Sundridge Mansion in his Red Book of 1793 and produced a layout for formal pleasure grounds to the east of the Mansion. Whilst much of the Nash-designed building exists in good state, sadly much of Repton’s landscape design has been lost over time.
The plans will now transform the majestic Mansion house into new apartments. Extensive landscaping will also take place, including woodland management and replanting, returning the gardens to their original design where possible.
The Mansion is largely split into two distinct sections, with 15 apartments planned for the historical Mansion and seven apartments in the newly built extension to the north. A new car park will be located to the rear of the building, removing the existing car park that obstructs the view of the Mansion; thereby enhancing its setting.