Bromley Council has revealed plans to build flats on the former site of a charity, with the trust claiming it is now facing a rent increase of 240 per cent at its new offices.

Details of a project to deliver a new seven storey block of flats have been outlined for a car park site in Beckenham.

Planning documents from Rivington Street Studio, on behalf of Bromley Council, said all 35 flats in the project would be available for social rent.

All homes would reportedly have private balconies or terraces and the site would also include a shared residents’ garden with children’s play area.

Conservative Councillor Yvonne Bear, portfolio holder for renewal, recreation and housing for Bromley Council, said in a statement: “This new development in Beckenham will help bring forwards much-needed additional affordable housing as we continue to progress with our commitment to provide more Bromley homes for Bromley people.”

The site currently covers Lewis House, a small detached building which previously hosted Bromley Experts by Experience (X by X), a charity staffed by disabled people to support those living with disabilities.

Joanne Munn, CEO of the charity, said X by X originally held a tender from the council to operate in the building until the end of 2022, with the option to extend the contract by two years at that point.

However, Ms Munn said the council later went back on this offer in October 2022 and that the current contract could only be extended by one year instead of two.

She said she was told in March last year that disability services were to be taken back in-house to be provided by the council and that the charity had to move out of Lewis House by the end of the year.

The resident said she was ‘disgusted’ with the council when learning about the new housing scheme planned for the site.

Ms Munn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “I would like to say that X by X are very disappointed with the lack of transparency shown by Bromley Council on this issue, having repeatedly advised us since 2021 that there were no plans to build on the site of Lewis House itself… Is that the way to show respect to local residents and, specifically, to local disabled people who have used Lewis House for the past ten years?”

The current plans said the design for the project dates back to March 2022, and that Lewis House would be demolished as part of the scheme.

The charity CEO said council officers had previously assured her in 2021 that there was ‘no way’ the building would be knocked down.

She said the trust fully understood the pressures facing all local authorities to maximise affordable housing, but felt the council had acted in a dishonest way. X by X is reportedly now based on North Street in Bromley town centre.

Ms Munn said: “No mention is made of the fact that a small charity led and staffed by local disabled people has lost £38,000 per year of council commissioning and been evicted from our office ‘home’.

"No mention is made of the fact that we are now paying 240pc more rent, which we are struggling to afford, or that we have had to make a longstanding member of staff, one of the founding members, redundant.”

Bromley Council documents from a meeting in June 2021 said conversations to relocate X by X from Lewis House had begun, and that the authority was considering housing options for the site.

Another report from November 2022 said that the authority would save approximately £180,000 in maintenance fees for Lewis House if it were to be redeveloped for housing.

Council officers said in a report last month that the Lewis House site in Beckenham was part of a project to provide 1,000 new affordable homes across the borough.

They added that 691 new units out of this figure had been sourced through similar building projects and housing acquisition schemes.

A council spokesperson told the LDRS that the authority understood the charity’s disappointment but that no promise had ever been made by the council that the land was not a suitable site for social housing.

They said the council was going to run a much improved and upgraded service for local disabled people that they felt would be extremely respectful to people’s requirements.

The spokesperson said: “We are obviously sad to see anybody lose their job, or have to spend more money relocating, but in these straightened economic times the council simply has to ensure wider value for the wider taxpayer.

"This change will however see an improved service to our users and badly needed social housing for those currently waiting in temporary accommodation and both of those achievements are something to celebrate.”

They added: “There has never been any lack of clarity of our desire to improve our services for the borough’s most vulnerable residents when the opportunity presents itself either.”

A public consultation on the new homes on the site of Lewis House is scheduled on February 24, 27 and 28 in Beckenham Library. Views can also be submitted online until March 4.