Croydon Council not only wants to bulldoze through Queen’s Gardens, but it is already bulldozing through its own planning policies to do so, as it conspires with its billionaire builder partners to make more than £100 million from building on public open space in the prime site in the centre of town.
The scheme is proposed by CCURV, the property speculation joint venture between Croydon Council and the builders John Laing.
They want to build five buildings on the site of the former council offices, next to the Croydon Flyover, including one 32-storey tower – half the height again of the existing Taberner House. And although previous proposals to build on to Queen’s Gardens have been rejected by the council’s planning committee, this time CCURV has come back wanting to use up even more of the precious open space.
At considerable public expense, CCURV has staged two poorly publicised (deliberately so?) and poorly attended public consultations, so there is little public awareness of what our council is trying to do to rescue the finances of its misconceived “urban regeneration vehicle”, which has so far failed to deliver either much in the way of regeneration or the millions of pounds of profit from public property which Mike Fisher, the leader of Croydon’s Tory-run council, and his then CEO, Jon Rouse, promised could be used to subsidise public services.
The proposals have been published on the council’s planning register, where the public can post its comments and objections until this Thursday, February 20. Anyone visiting the register will discover more than a thousand pages of documents, drawings and “artist’s impressions” of what is proposed on this landmark site, which stands across Fell Road from the new council offices in Fisher’s Folly and the Grade II-listed Town Hall.
The diagrams clearly show that, not satisfied with utilising the footprint of Taberner House, the council and Laing’s greedily want to build over almost half of Queen’s Gardens, all the way up to the fountain area.
But according to well-placed sources within the council, its own committee for conservation area planning approval has already rejected the scheme, dismissing it as “looking like as design from the Eastern Bloc”.
The developers propose a courtyard between the new buildings, claiming that this “inner amenity space”, including a playground, will in some way compensate for the loss of public open space in Queen’s Gardens.
But conservationists say that the courtyard will be in shadow cast by the surrounding buildings for much of the day, and that by being “within” the cordon created by the new buildings, the courtyard will be cut-off and will not be regarded as a public open space in the same way as the existing gardens.
The documents also reveal that, of the 420 apartments proposed in this massive development, provision is being made for just six three-bedroom affordable homes.
And so eager – or desperate – is our council and its partners to get on with the project, that even though the planning consultation has not finished, preparatory demolition work has begun on Taberner House, even though no approval has been granted for the designs. This runs counter to the council’s own, and usually strictly applied, rules.
Members of the conservation area committee fear that, although they have rejected the CCURV plan, the demolition work signals the council’s determination to ensure planning approval is granted.
- How we first reported the scheme last July: Council wants to build high-rise flats on Queen’s Gardens
- Click here to view the council’s planning register, the proposal documents or to make a comment or objection
Coming to Croydon
- Chinese New Year children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 18
- This War! St Gertrude’s Theatre group, Feb 19-22
- Welsh myths children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Warm and Well event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 22
- Croydon Male Voice Choir concert, Feb 22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Fairtrade Film night, Antenna Cafe, Haynes Lane, Feb 27
- Fairtrade event, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Fairtrade stall at Food Market, Haynes Lane, Mar 8
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- South Norwood Lakes Playground group workshop, Mar 25
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
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