There was a mixture of dismay and outright anger among Coulsdon residents after last night’s strategic (ha!) planning meeting at the Town Hall saw six Tory councillors vote through the planning applications for Barratt to build 677 houses on the site of the former Cane Hill Hospital and for the council’s CCURV joint venture to build a supermarket and medical centre to service the new village on more public land that currently serves as a car park on Lion Green Road.
“Coulsdon was sentenced to be crucified last night,” one resident has written. “Democracy? No chance.”
A Facebook page, Save Coulsdon, has sprung up and there is a public meeting tonight organised to discuss possible further action, including the threat of yet another Judicial Review of the manner in which Croydon Council conducts its business.
The residents’ associations are generally in favour of the new homes in the Cane Hill development, which was originally brokered with Barratt by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who handed £250-million-worth of public land to the house-builders for free. But residents are deeply concerned at the lack of school places, adequate road exits from Cane Hill and overall parking provision.
At the council meeting last night, residents were each given just one minute each to speak, and while the committee’s Labour councillors voted against the unamended planning applications, the Conservative-run council duly backed big business and Boris to push the scheme through.
“It was sickening,” one resident who was at the meeting said. “The council officers that spoke were unbelievable.
“We have not been listened to from the start… Seems Boris is the law for Greater London.
“There are fundamental errors in the applications and due process has not been followed, many objectors now want to take this to Judicial Review.”
The vote at last night’s meeting was proposed by Jason Perry, a councillor for Croham who just happens to be the director of a building supplies company, and was seconded by Lynne Hale, who when not collecting her allowances as councillor for Sanderstead picks up more public money by working in the office of Westminster’s acknowledged expenses expert, “Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway, the Tory MP for Croydon South.
Croydon’s Conservatives appear to have alienated the well-organised and resourced residents’ associations in Coulsdon, as well as some groups in Chipstead and Banstead in Surrey. Richard Thurbon, the chairman of the Coulsdon West Residents’ Association, whose area encompasses Cane Hill, last night said that his organisation “will now no longer extend a [sic] invite or co-operate with those who have seeked [sic] to ignore the views of our residents”.
Thurbon described the planning decision as a “complete alienation of the Coulsdon Community”.
He said, “Residents will now realise they have been ignored.”
The controversial decision coming so close to forthcoming local elections might have created some problems in the two Coulsdon wards for the incumbent Tories and their new candidates who have been parachuted in to the usually safe Conservative wards. “Do yourselves a favour don’t vote Tory in the upcoming elections,” another resident wrote on Save Coulsdon. “Make sure they can’t keep doing this.”
Another resident said, “I am hoping an independent stands so I can vote for them. Last night was shocking.”
But with Thurbon’s residents’ association’s bluff about fielding candidates in May’s elections having already been called, voters may struggle to find any challengers around which their opposition can coalesce: Labour rates its chances in the south of the borough so poorly that they won’t even get round to naming their “paper candidates” until this weekend, while the LibDems’ reputation nationally may count against their candidates.
“People are never listened to,” one resident said. “It’s actually not worth voting at all.
“All of them are being paid expenses out of the public purse and now I read they don’t have to attend chambers for a few months. All the while central government seems intent on arse-kissing the larger developers and big business, hence it’s no surprise you weren’t represented.
Another concerned resident has written, “Sadly it was a battle you would never win as these untrained people… feel that they know best and only appear to represent the wishes of the central party rather than the mugs that trudged up to a dilapidated church hall in the rain and sadly voted for them.
“Don’t vote, don’t let them canvass you, boycott their ridiculous surgeries until they actually ask how best they can represent you and then we should set them objectives that they can be judged against or we find a way to throw them out.”
The young Tories who have been given the plum Coulsdon wards to give them a leg up on to the council, such as James Thompson, who will stand in Coulsdon East, and Mario Creatura, Gavin Barfwell’s gobby factotum, who stands in Coulsdon West, embraced the decision with undisguised glee, demonstrating how utterly out of touch they are with the people they want to represent.
“Excited by the council’s decision to approve the Cane Hill and Lion Green Road sites,” Thompson, a leading light in the Young Conservatives, Tweeted. “Coulsdon’s future is bright.”
Creatura, who is widely believed to be running the campaign for councillors in Croydon Central on behalf of Barfwell, the MP there, went public with this: “Plans approved tonight for 677 new homes on Cane Hill to kick start the much needed regeneration of Coulsdon.”
Gill Hickson, one of the LibDems standing in the elections next month, said, “I got to see democracy at work in Croydon Town Hall last night. Or did I?
“Despite overwhelming public opinion locally on both Cane Hill and Lion Green developments, we were subjected to a Disney-style cartoon of what the wonderful wonderland on the hill will look like. I kept expecting Bambi to frolic across the Green Belt.
“They showed Marlpit roundabout and Lion Green Road, but managed to air brush out all the traffic. They looked at both set of plans separately, when they are obviously entwined. Despite being elected to represent Coulsdon residents, the local councillors spoke in favour,” Hickson said.
Tonight’s public meeting could be very interesting.
- Council leader Fisher commits to paying for Cane Hill road
- Cane Hill road deal not enough to stop all residents’ objections
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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