Fighting the Threat of Overdevelopment
One of the best things about the southern part of our Borough – and especially Kenley – is the beautiful greenery we have. Although we are technically in a
London Borough, much of our neighbourhood has a rural or semi-rural feel to it. I like that a lot. It makes it a very nice place to live.
I am worried that this is coming under threat from over-development. Croydon Council, which following the recent council elections remains Labour-run, has been granting inappropriate planning applications in many parts of our Borough. The most egregious example of this is the 17 floor Purley skyscraper. Thankfully, I was able to persuade the Secretary of State to “Call in” this project, which can be done for large schemes. The matter will now be decided by a Planning Inspector following the public hearings in January. But countless very poor smaller schemes are also being frequently consented by the Council. These often involve the demolition of family housing and replacement by ugly blocks of flats, which are out of keeping with the local area.
I have recently objected to such schemes on Welcomes Road and Uplands Road. There is currently an application for a scheme of 15 flats in Cullesden Road which I have also objected to as well. If we destroy family housing and replace it with flats, not only will families not have suitable homes but the character of our area will change. It is shocking that the council gives consent unthinkingly to these developments. It has emboldened opportunistic developers,who are now actively targeting Croydon because they know the council will not protect us. Developers have even written to me at my own house in Coulsdon twice trying to buy it!
I am determined to resist this trend. For very large applications, I can seek to have them called in. For smaller applications, we must fight them one by one. I am hoping that the council will eventually start to listen.
Of course, we do need more housing. While Kenley is suitable for family homes, we need flats too. Kenley is not, in my view, suitable for lots of flats but Croydon town centre certainly is. The town centre already has numerous tall buildings and pre-existing transport infrastructure. It is already a dense urban environment where building tall buildings is appropriate.
There are also many derelict buildings that should be bought back into use as flats in Croydon town centre – the Royal Mail building next to East Croydon station and the old Nestlé building to name just two. It is shocking that the council has failed to get these huge buildings redeveloped, which would create hundreds of homes.
The story is the same across London. There a former water works site in Enfield which could take 10,000 homes but Sadiq Khan has failed to get it developed. He has also failed to develop other huge brown-field sites at Old Oak Common in Acton and Barking Riverside. The brown-field sites are there, and crying out to be developed.
I am determined to make sure homes get built in the right places like Croydon town centre. That is why I have supported the Westfield shopping scheme (which I hope will finally start in about 10 months’ time) which also includes 985 new homes. But I will campaign against developments where they will damage the character of local neighbourhoods – including green belt sites and in areas like Kenley.
I will keep fighting to protect Kenley and other parts of our neighbourhood like it, while making sure we build home in the right places like Croydon Town Centre.