I am deeply concerned about the Council’s appalling approach to planning. They are granting 95% of applications that go to planning committee, which are supposed to be the contentious applications. They intend a further 10,000 homes to be built in suburban areas of the borough by 2036. The council is targeting green areas with intensified building – which I strongly oppose.
The most obvious example of this is the 17 storey skyscraper that the Council has granted planning permission in Purley. This application is totally out of character with the area – most of Purley’s buildings are 3-5 storeys tall, but this skyscraper is planned to be 17 floors tall. It would be visible as far away as Farthing Down.
After successfully lobbying the Secretary of State, I was able to persuade him to call in this decision, and it is currently being reviewed by an independent planning inspector. We are still awaiting a final decision.
The Council is also planning to intensify development in areas that have traditionally been low-density. This includes South Croydon district centre and areas off Godstone Road in Kenley.
In many cases family homes are now being replaced with blocks of flats. This means sharp increases in population in previously quiet areas.
Unfortunately, the council does not seem to care about the impact that these changes will have on existing residents. I will continue to work with residents to strongly oppose the damaging applications that are being granted by the Council. I will be launching a campaign on this issue in the near future.
Furthermore, the necessary improvements in infrastructure, such as providing adequate numbers of GPs, are not taking place to accommodate the dramatic increase in population. There is already inadequate parking in the south, but the council regularly waves through applications for flats that provide parking for only a fraction of their residents.
I am not opposed to development of new homes. All of London is in urgent need of more homes for people to live in. Without this, the cost of renting and buying will continue to sky-rocket. However, homes should be built on suitable sites.
A neighbourhood that has pre-existing tall buildings is a suitable place for the Council to allow more tall buildings to be built. The Council should be prioritising building on brownfield sites – and not building on fields or green areas.
Croydon town centre is an ideal place for development. It has excellent transport links from East Croydon and tram services that make it highly desirable for young professionals. The town centre has many unused buildings that could be converted into flats, or replaced with tall buildings that would be entirely in keeping with the rest of the area, such as the Royal Mail site next to East Croydon station, or the old Nestle building. I want to see a Brownfield first policy.
By focusing on Brownfield first, the Council would be able to ensure that the borough meets the demand for housing, but also protect green areas and the historic character of our neighbourhoods. The Council should reexamine its priorities and put the concerns of residents first.