In 1969 the Council designated Brentham a Conservation Area and resolved to pay special attention to preserving and enhancing the character of the area. In addition, the Brentham Club building with its striking tower was listed as being of architectural and historic merit and a preservation order was served by the Greater London Council in 1972. In response to this movement in conservation, the Brentham Society was formed in 1970 as a residents' association, to make more widely known the facts about the conservation area to encourage the maintenance of its amenities.
That same year a planning application was made for a block of 13 flats in the grounds of Mount View, at the top of Brentham Way, just outside the conservation area. Because of its elevated site, the development would have blighted the southeast corner of the estate. Four years later, in 1974, there was an application to build further flats behind Holyoake Walk, in the heart of Brentham. In the event the Society did not have to mobilise resistance because the council rejected both applications out of hand.
One of the most protracted planning battles of the 1970s was also fought in the heart of the suburb, at the even more sensitive site of the sports fields of the Brentham Club. In 1968, before the conservation area designation, the Brentham Club had applied to build an indoor bowling green, only a few feet from the back gardens of the houses in Meadvale Road. After a five-year battle the Environment Secretary, Geoffrey Rippon, rejected the application in 1973. In 1972 the Borough Council took the opportunity of allocating 3.4 acres of the site to the rear of Neville and Brunswick Roads for a proposed housing development. However, the Department of the Environment refused to grant permission for a change of land use, and the land is still used for allotments today.
In 1975 Brentham was awarded Article 4 conservation-area status. During the 1960s many alterations had eroded Brentham's character - alterations to windows, doors and porches, small extensions, garages, car standing spaces, and walls and fences. The Article 4 designation meant that in future such alterations would not be permitted.
Nevertheless, in the late 1990s two major planning applications threatened the suburb in different ways. The first was the application to replace the church hall at St Barnabas. The plans for the proposed hall were at first not in keeping with the rest of the church architecture, but they were revised so that the new hall blended in with the architectural surroundings.
The second application was for developments at the Brentham Club. The plans included building hard tennis courts, an artificial hockey pitch and athletics track, a pavilion and an extension to the Grade II listed Clubhouse. Planning permission was refused because the plans contravened the council's Unitary Development Plan, and the development would have affected the building and environment of a listed building in an Article 4 conservation area.
Continued - Chronology
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