The “family homes” built by Barratt Homes can’t be very good: according to the house-builder, few of those that it will be building at Cane Hill in Coulsdon will accommodate any children.
Apparently to avoid having to provide a school on the site, Barratt appears to be taking the expression “family planning” to new levels.
Another lip-service exercise in public consultation is taking place today and tomorrow in Coulsdon, where Barratt together with subsidiary brand Ward Homes is laying out its development plans for the former site of the old Cane Hill Hospital.
Under a scheme announced by London Mayor Boris Johnson last year, Barratt effectively gets to develop a publicly owned site, valued at around £250 million, without having to pay much until after the houses are built and sold off.
And now it has emerged that, with connivance from Croydon Council and Boris, Barratt do not intend making provision for the schooling of any of the children living in this large new housing estate. Sorry, “community”.
The public relations and publicity for the Cane Hill project is being handled by the ubiquitous White Label PR company, who got round to launching the website for the multi-million pound development on Tuesday this week. So that’ll give the public plenty of notice of the consultation, then, won’t it?
“Residents are being encouraged to have their say on plans to develop Cane Hill at a consultation event being held at Coulsdon Methodist Church on Friday, May 10 (10am to 7pm) and Saturday, May 11 (10am to 3pm),” the official website states.
A spokesman for Barratt and Ward Homes is quoted as saying, “We aim to create a sustainable community on this prominent site that fits in with the surrounding landscape.”
OK. So let’s do some simple sums about how “sustainable” such a “community” might be.
The plans are for 99 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 551 two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom houses; up to 25 new homes converted from existing buildings (including using the old hospital’s chapel); and some commercial facilities.
That’s a total of 675 homes. It seems that Barratt are expecting many of the new home-owners to be child-less. Or maybe they foresee a visit from some latter-day Pied Piper or child-catcher figure to lure the pesky kids away?
The shortage of school places throughout Croydon is well-known, with leaders at the Town Hall describing the situation as a “crisis” when they seek to justify building on greenfield sites elsewhere in the borough.
Yet here in Coulsdon, on a brownfield site where hundreds of new houses – many of them “family homes” – are to be built at considerable profit for the developers, no space is being provided for a school.
The shiny new White Label website explains that “The development is expected to generate around 162 primary school children and 60 secondary school children. These children will occur across the phased development programme of 5 years and therefore will not occur all at once.”
So: 675 homes. But just 222 children. And not “all at once”, either. Does that really add up?
According to White Label, “… the borough’s Education Team have been planning for this increased capacity and as a result, the site does not generate a need for a new Primary School (420 pupils as a 2 Form Entry).”
A Community Infrastructure Levy – CIL – of “around £9 million” will be contributed from the development towards Croydon’s school expansion plan. But that’s chicken feed compared to the value of land provided to Barratt for the Cane Hill development, and the potential profits the company might expect to rake in from flogging houses, rather than providing an important public building such as a school – even a one-form entry primary.
Looks like Croydon Council, together with London Mayor Boris Johnson, has come down on the side of the big-business property developers again, rather than the existing local residents of Coulsdon, or the new neighbours that will be moving into Cane Hill Park. With their children.
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