Going Mental: Is 55-storey tower just getting a name change?

Doubts remain over the viability of the Mental Tower beside East Croydon station, proposed as Britain’s tallest residential block at 55 storeys, but casting a shadow for more than half a mile over the existing low-rise homes of Addiscombe, while described by its supporters as “a once in a lifetime opportunity”.

The architects’ impression of the Menta Tower – note how the pedestrian bridge at the foot of the tower features

Scepticism has run deep about the real intentions of Menta, the developers, even since before Croydon Council’s planning committee somewhat supinely rubber-stamped the development’s application. The developers do not appear to have any serious financial backing for the scheme from major bankers.

Local MP, Gavin Barwell, lodged an objection and even suggested that the developers might sell on the site at a significant profit once it had planning permission.

Those doubts have increased since the developers failed to pony up the £2 million contribution that they agreed to provide towards the building of a link bridge across the railway lines to central Croydon and a second entrance for the station. Building of the “Bridge to Nowhere” continues, but it will not be completed on the site of Menta’s “prestige” development, “effectively making its intended use from Cherry Orchard Road defunct”, according to one senior figure at the Town Hall.

Rather than enforce any Section 106 agreement, under which Menta was supposed to deliver a modest (in the overall scheme of things) cash contribution to the cost of the bridge building, Croydon Council and Transport for London have stumped up the missing dosh themselves – public money, of course – to allow the work to continue.

If you check out the developers’ own website, you will see that the pedestrian bridge features prominently throughout, in pictures, in text and even in a video. It is an essential piece of public realm development from which the private developers benefit massively.

Boldly, the developers’ PR spinners speak about the “strategically important development” …  “set to anchor the East Croydon Masterplan… as well as major transport and infrastructure improvements”.

But it is telling that the developers’ website says nothing of their own intended contribution in delivering the bridge: “The development will integrate with a new station entrance funded by Network Rail and the Borough at an estimated investment of £20m and due for completion in 2014.”

The bridge has always been an essential part of the overall scheme. In 2010 the development’s architects, Make, said, “Our approach to the landscaping has been fundamental to the design, with 35 per cent of the area given over to the public realm. Significant improvements include the creation of Cherry Orchard Square, a new public space that connects Cherry Orchard Road with a new station entrance and a pedestrian bridge across the rail tracks.”

Work continues at East Croydon on the £20m pedestrian bridge, without the intended exit area on the Addiscombe side

Inside Croydon sought an update from Make on their plans, specifically the development of Cherry Orchard Square with its publicly funded pedestrian bridge linking to the other side of the railway tracks. What has changed? How were they integrating the public space into the scheme? And what of the bridge’s entrance?

Eventually, after three reminders, we were informed that the scheme was now called “Morello London” – Cherry Orchard Road, geddit? – and provided with the following statement:

“The development team is currently working towards the scheme’s delivery.  When implemented the proposals will lead to the lasting regeneration of the East Croydon area, creating new homes and new employment opportunities and a regional destination. We believe it will be one of the finest examples of high-rise living in the UK providing an internationally recognised symbol of place and purpose.”

None of our questions were addressed. Are you any the wiser? Nor us.

  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
  • Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Addiscombe West, Cherry Orchard Gardens, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, Housing, Menta Tower, Planning, Property and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Going Mental: Is 55-storey tower just getting a name change?

  1. Lies will catch up with Croydon Council.
    Sooner if the right people are chosen to lead the opposition party.
    I risk excommunication but it takes a big change to rebuild Croydon.
    One does not rebuild on sand.

  2. mraemiller says:

    Sometimes I think this is the story of Croydon. Developers and planners get richer and richer dreaming ever more absurd schemes … while the physical reality remains a void and as a result people avoid.

Leave a Reply