Campaign gathers pace to keep Tesco off historic common

Hands Off Our Common – HOOC – the action group formed to block moves by supermarket multi-national Tesco building on Streatham Common, is meeting tonight to plan the next stage of its campaign.

The campaigning has been necessary because Tesco want to build a vast ice skating hall on the common, alongside Streatham High Road (A23) just north of Norbury, while they redevelop the old Silver Blades ice rink and the now closed Streatham pool site across the road.

The skating hall proposal from Tesco is supposed to be temporary, as the supermarket chain seeks to fulfil a Lambeth council planning requirement to maintain a skating facility while developing the vast site into a supermarket. The intention had been that, in return for receiving planning permission for its superstore, Tesco would develop the sports and leisure centre first.

Conservationists and locals fear that once the “temporary” skating hall is built on the common, Tesco may be allowed by the council to abandon plans for a more permanent structure, and an open space that has a history that goes back to the Domesday Book and was most recently established for public use under an Act of Parliament in 1878, will be irreparably damaged and lost.

Streatham Common is familiar to many in Croydon, and extends eastwards towards Beulah Hill and south through the Rookery to Norwood Grove, and provides part of a chain of public open space all the way through to Crystal Palace.

This area of Streatham Common has been in the charge of Lambeth Council only since 1971. Before that, it was a public open space administered by the old London County Council and then the Greater London Council.

Tonight’s HOOC open meeting takes place at The Greyhound pub, opposite Streatham Common, from 7.30pm.

Local residents have been outraged since Lambeth Council caved in to Tesco and granted permission to build on the common, after the supermarket threatened to walk away from this long-term development plan if they were not allowed to demolish all the buildings on the site in one money-saving move, rather than piecemeal.

HOOC’s website is also seeking support from the public with its online petition.

They outline their objections to the development on Streatham Common thus:

  • If it happens it will establish a precedent for the council to use our Streatham Common to build things they can’t put elsewhere regardless of what the community think about it. The danger that it won’t be ‘temporary’!
  • Streatham Common is Metropolitan Common Land, protected by Act of Parliament, and has been open land, free for the use of the residents of Streatham for over 1000 years!  It has been officially closed for “other use” only once in modern and medieval history, and that was to house officers and provide allotments for Dig-for-Victory during World War II.
  • In spite of all the above, because of the demands by a large developer, and because its own promise to the residents of Streatham to provide continuous ice skating is threatened by that developer, the council has chosen to designate the our Streatham Common to be the site of a ‘temporary’ ice rink.  HOOC vehemently opposes this and are organising to prevent it happening.

To sign the Hands Off Our Common petition and find out more about the campaign, please click here

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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