It seems that Croydon Council’s strategy of ignoring the interests of local residents and businesses, and instead acting at the bidding of big business, has now been extended to the leafy, largely Conservative-supporting suburbs of Coulsdon.
Croydon’s Urban Regeneration Vehicle partnership with builders John Laing, in which the council hands over public buildings and land in return for half of the profits from the development – if they ever manage to make any profits – has seen the Tory-controlled council lob Lion Green Road car park into the pot, where CURV wants to build a medical centre (good) and 50,000 sq ft supermarket (dubious).
Local residents are unhappy about the car park scheme, which comes hard on the heels of the Cane Hill Hospital site effectively being given away to the house-builder Barratt to develop 650 new houses – but with little in the way of public amenities, such as a school for all the new children being brought up in the area.
With a 20 per cent increase in Coulsdon’s population of 10,000 through Cane Hill, you might have thought that Barratt might have been prevailed upon by public authorities to provide a doctor’s surgery within its development. But that might have reduced the builders’ profit margins.
So instead, that facility is being provided on a Croydon Council publicly-owned site nearby. How considerate of us.
Lion Green Road is likely to serve as an access route to Cane Hill, both for the heavy lorries expected during the building phase and for the resulting traffic from the mini-town being built on the site of the former asylum.
Factor-in the development of the supermarket on Lion Green Road (intended to provide the profit-making element for CURV), and the sort of traffic which that might attract, and the residents’ concerns seem well-founded.
Residents have set up their own website, calling for those opposed to the car park development to post their complaints before the council’s deadline next month.
One of the residents writes, “The Lion Green Road Car Park, gifted to the people of Coulsdon, the council believes would be better as a supermarket… Their developer believes that this would not add much traffic to the Lion Green road and surrounding areas. Guess they dont live here.”
Locals have been running a petition opposing elements of the scheme, but the council has confirmed that it will ignore more than 1,000 comments against its “Masterplan” (Ha! The irony). The council has informed Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, that it believes it has consulted properly.
Another Croydon Council consultation in which they ignore residents’ views and go ahead with whatever scheme they have cooked up with property developers, then?
With busy junctions at either end of Lion Green Road, with Chipstead Valley Road to the north and at the southern end, leading through to the A23 route to the M23 and M25, residents fear that the lives of pedestrians and cyclists will be at ever greater risk.
“This site is not in the town centre and does not follow London Planing Policy nor does it meet National Planning Policy,” according to the campaigners.
- To post your comment on the Coulsdon “plans”, visit the council website here. Deadline is August 12
- For more from the Save Coulsdon campaign, visit their website here
- Or visit the East Coulsdon Residents’ Association’s website, with its objections to the Masterplan, by clicking here
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- Riesco objections: Croydon Council’s squandering our heritage (insidecroydon.com)
- London housing crisis: should ‘affordable’ targets be reduced? (guardian.co.uk)
I don’t know whether this scheme is good, bad or indifferent. On the one hand, Croydon Council and its developer chums are involved. On the other, Waitrose are nobody’s fool and can be very exacting in their demands for good design and quality construction.
But I do know that Coulsdon residents have been complaining for 40 years or more. They have a reputation for whingeing about everything. Maybe they have cried wolf too often and now everyone in authority, rightly or wrongly, has stopped listening.