New attractions, including model railway, approved for Hall Place, Bexley
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 November 2019
Ambitious plans to revamp Bexley's historic Hall Place have been given the green light, but not all councillors were a fan of the move - with one describing the planned design as "disgraceful".
Bexley's planning committee unanimously approved the council's own application, which includes building a 390m long model railway loop, a children's playground, a human sundial and a new covered seating area.
The attractions come with a new entry fee for the gardens, set at £4 for adults and £2 for children aged five to 16.
The work represents a £620k investment into Hall Place and its surroundings, which the council hopes will lead to a surge in visitor numbers as the authority grapples with the cost of running the site.
While councillors understood the need to make the council-run facility viable, several voiced concerns over how the new additions would fit in with the surrounding Grade 2 listed gardens.
"Overall I'm very much in favour of this, but I do have some concerns," Cllr John Davey (West Heath, Conservative) said.
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"The canopy (for the seating area) looks a bit rough, bearing in mind this is a listed building site… this is an iconic view across the river, at the moment there's no details showing what it's going to look like really.
"(It's) just a sketch, which I'm not at all happy about."
His views were echoed by Cllr Val Clark (Falconwood and Welling, Conservative) who sharply criticised the council's own designs for a lack of detail.
"I feel like we're being asked to do a lot of this on trust. Looking at the map up there I think it's disgraceful, if that's the best Bexley can produce we ought to be ashamed," she said.
"I would expect Bexley to put something forward that's a big more professional than this."
In response, a council officer stated the authority's heritage officer was satisfied that the bridge would have an acceptable impact on the area, while more detailed plans would be forthcoming.
It was an explanation councillors appeared to agree with, with the planning committee voting unanimously in favour.