People Power I: The battle for Higher Drive

Local residents are mobilising on single issue subjects up and down Croydon. Ill-served by absentee MPs, such as Richard Ottaway, or by avaricious councillors who take on so many extra jobs that they have little time to properly represent their wards, residents are banding together for affirmative action.

Campaigning residents have plastered Higher Drive with more warning signs about the hospital development there

The frustration and disgust with the way in which they are handled has even seen some residents threaten civil disobedience unless action is taken in their interests.

Inside Croydon has charted the progress and successes of the parking campaigners and the save the libraries groups, the latter which still have something of a battle on their hands with a council which ignores its own consultation and then conducts secret meetings with profit-seeking American carpet-baggers keen to scoop up valuable publicly funded assets on the cheap.

What these groups have in common is that while they are broadly politically unaligned, many of them have a growing distrust and distaste for the unholy alliances between council officials on fat six-figure salaries, ambitious Establishment politicians and the local media, who appear oblivious to their reasonable causes and interests.

Over the weekend, we want to highlight some examples of how these ordinary people of Croydon are trying to mobilise in their own interests.

Our first example is the on-going battle for the future of Higher Drive in Purley over the building of a massive high dependency unit hospital in a residential area ill-served by public transport.

Local campaigners won a victory with the borough’s planning committee last month when the millionaire property developer had his application to build a secondary unit at 94 Higher Drive refused.

The developer has also been shown to have submitted letters of support for his application apparently from official NHS agencies and departments, but signed by people who don’t actually work there or who don’t actually support the development. The council’s planning department failed to check the veracity of the evidence submitted to it. Higher Drive residents want this investigated by the police.

Now, residents are concerned that Croydon Council is refusing to apply any enforcement action against the developer. Despite being refused planning permission at No94, the developer has continued building work on the site, where they have constructed a brick-built out-building within a few feet of the public footpath apparently to house a diesel generator and a hospital waste store.

  • The local fire brigade has said that placing a generator and hospital waste store together is “highly undesirable”, as “both are classified as high fire risks”. Further, the fire brigade says, “the situation is made worse in that they share an enclosure with a gas main and are located feet away from a public pavement”. It is also suspected that the local Environmental Health Officer was never consulted over the siting of these facilities.

Traffic chaos was caused on Higher Drive by road works connected with the development of a hospital on what was once a quiet residential street

Little wonder, then, that planning permission was refused by Croydon Council for such an ill-conceived structure. But the developer has carried on building, and now the council – which could order the demolition of the out-building – is refusing to take action. Residents accuse the council of collusion with this millionaire property developer.

This week, one of the residents has sent a letter to the council’s CEO, Jon “Proud to Serve” Rouse, and to the leader of the ruling Conservative group on the council, Mike Fisher. In the interests of openness and transparency, we publish here extracts from that letter:

Dear Mr Rouse and Mr Fisher,

We, the residents of Higher Drive and the surrounding area have just about had enough…

I live on Densham Drive, a cul de sac with its only entrance and exit barely 10 metres from the development. Not one of the residents of Densham Drive were consulted [by the council over this development]. Why? It’s starts to build a picture of collusion with this odious profit-from-patients developer.

We have discovered evidence of fraudulent support submitted by the developer… After we investigated further, that evidence is in fact an offence in law, it is criminal and we are taking this to the police.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Section 194 states that it is an offence to furnish false or misleading information or to withhold material information with intent to deceive. Section 193(7) enables Croydon Council to revoke, at any time, a certificate they may have issued as a result of such false or misleading information.

Indeed, in my correspondence with the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol it was stated, and I quote: “Nevertheless, if evidence came to light that there had in fact been an intention to deceive, that may be a civil matter the police would wish to investigate”.

There is so much about this whole episode that, to be honest, has a smell about it. So much that is grinding us all down, but we will not be walked over or treated unfairly any longer, we are certainly not giving up, we want answers and we certainly want serious action from the top.

There is a whole neighbourhood of Council Tax-payers who will resort to civil disobedience if necessary unless satisfactory action is taken.


About insidecroydon

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
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