Spotlight on: Bromley

The Partridge pub in Bromley

The Partridge pub in Bromley - Credit: Archant

This Nort Kent thriving town with excellent shopping facilities is convenient for just about everything, and right now it’s undergoing an exciting transformation

Bromley has superb transport links to London, many acres of parks and public gardens, plus it’s on the edge of beautiful countryside and villages. There are great shopping facilities, it’s an extremely convenient place to live and it has a rich tapestry of history.

Modern Bromley’s huge redevelopment, approved since 2010, is currently underway, heralding the arrival of a new cinema, hotel complex and apartments, plus some sensational public areas.

The cyclist’s view

Spencer Harradine, coordinator of Bromley Cyclists

Bromley Cyclists (BCs) is a local group of the London Cycling Campaign and Spencer Harradine has just been shortlisted as a ‘Local Cycling Hero.’

The BCs hold regular ‘Wednesday Weekly Wanders’ locally, plus Saturday and Sunday rides which venture further afield and link up with other London cycling clubs. They welcome families and family groups and are especially keen to encourage youngsters in the joy of cycling.

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“What I love about cycling is that it’s a relatively cheap, environmentally friendly form of transport, it’s hugely enjoyable, keeps me healthy, and it’s a hobby I can share with my entire family,” says Spencer.

“It’s also a great way of meeting people and making new friends. Last year my whole family cycled to Amsterdam and back for our annual holiday. The advantages of cycling with a group are that it’s far more sociable than going solo.

“There are many roads in Bromley with cycle lanes and some parks with shared pedestrian and cycle access and we’re currently working to provide safe routes to schools and stations for cyclists.

“Bromley is a great place to live, on the edge of beautiful Kent countryside, yet just 20 minutes from London. It’s ideal for cycling out to nearby historical villages such as Downe, Keston and Petts Wood.”

Business view

Julie Leggatt, Project Manager for the Bromley Business Awards (BBA)

Bromley Business Awards (developed and organised by Prospects Services) rewards and celebrates the many dynamic and innovative businesses in the town.

Categories include: Best Small Business, Best Green Business, a Business Innovation Award and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Julie Leggatt says: “I love my job because it’s so varied. It’s very demanding but ultimately well worth it when I see the delight on the winners’ face. Every business has a great deal to be proud of, and our awards give recognition for all their hard work, and it is also useful for networking and increasing client bases.

“The 2012 winner was Chris Cary’s Collection (the family run textile recycling company), a massive asset to the borough, and our main sponsor is Biggin Hill Airport. I’d like to also mention The Warren, home of the Metropolitan Police (Hayes) Sports Club, where we hold our dinners.

“I like Bromley because it’s a lovely town, with good open green spaces and excellent restaurants. The redevelopment in Bromley South Central will be a massive advantage to the borough. It’s good for all ages, with good schools and facilities and close to fine open countryside.”

An artistic view

Ann Dyer, vice-chair of The Bromley Evening Decorative and Fine Arts Society (BEDFAS)

One of three local groups belonging to the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies, these societies aim to promote an appreciation and understanding of all aspects of the fine arts, including paintings, sculpture, architecture, furniture, porcelain, jewellery and music.

“The nine monthly lectures of BEDFAS cover a wider range of topics,” says Ann Dyer. “On 7 October the lecture will be on Giverny and Monet’s Collection of Japanese Prints and on 4 November ‘A child of Six could do it! – a cartoonist’s view of Modern Art.’ There are also visits to places of interest in London and coach trips, a supper evening and a summer lunch.

“Bromley is a pleasant part of Greater London, with a history going back to the Middle Ages, with historic houses and parks and a charter market.

“The Great Hall where BEDFAS meets is built on the land joining the former residence of the bishops of Rochester, and there are many choirs and orchestras in the borough, which give regular concerts.

“There are art exhibitions by local artists in the library and the Ripley Arts Centre and art clubs and classes. Bromley is within easy reach of wonderful countryside with stately homes and beautiful parkland.”

The educational view

Bernard Wilson, Chairman of Bromley U3A

Bromley U3A offers classes and activities for retired or semi-retired people in the area. You can choose from among 80-plus different study groups and classes are all run by volunteers, at minimal fees.

“I head the executive committee and chair committee meetings, write for our newsletter, and present speakers at our monthly general meetings,” explains Bernard Wilson.

“We have a thriving U3A with more than 1700 members and we offer a wide range of subjects, from gardening to philosophy, guitar playing to Italian conversation, history and art classes to personal finance, plus there’s a thriving computer club.

“Joining the U3A is an excellent way to meet new people. As well as the small home-based groups, there are a large number of meetings which attract plenty of members and these are always lively and chatty.

“I find Bromley a relaxed and friendly place, I especially like the Hayes side of Bromley, where you can enjoy watching the local football club. Nearby there is Norman Park, with its athletics track (important for me as a member of Blackheath and Bromley Harriers).

“We have a real gem in Bromley Little Theatre, and Bromley is a really good place to live – there’s plenty to do and it’s an active community.

Redevelopment plans

Adopted in 2010, the Bromley Town Centre Area Action Plan heralds big changes and both the two key schemes have begun and are due to be completed during 2014.

The Bromley South Central Scheme, at the Westmoreland car park site, comprises a £90m mixed use development, including a nine-screen cinema, restaurants, hotel, residential development and a new car park and a central landscaped public plaza.

The Bromley North Village scheme (£5.2m), covers Market Square, High Street North and East Street and includes an upgrade to the public space (improved pavements, carriageway, pedestrian crossings and lighting). New public art will be introduced and community spaces improved. n

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