‘Coulsdon was sentenced to be crucified last night’

Developers Barratt's somewhat idealised vision of the new Cane Hill village

Developers Barratt’s somewhat idealised vision of the new Cane Hill village

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.”

Croham councillor Jason Perry: cabinet member for planning, regeneration and transport. And with business interests in the building industry

Croham councillor Jason Perry: cabinet member for planning, regeneration and transport. And with business interests in the building industry

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.


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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 2014 council elections, 2015 General Election, Boris Johnson, Cane Hill, Chris Wright, Community associations, Coulsdon, Coulsdon East, Coulsdon West, Coulsdon West Residents' Association, Croydon South, East Coulsdon Residents' Association, Environment, Housing, Jason Perry, Mayor of London, Old Coulsdon Residents' Association, Parking, Planning, Property, Richard Ottaway MP and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to ‘Coulsdon was sentenced to be crucified last night’

  1. Yes, Tonight’s public meeting will indeed be interesting! I wonder if it’s too late to put up independent candidates for the local election.

    • mraemiller says:

      April 24 is the deadline for putting up candidates for the local elections.

      I still don’t see why this is such a big deal. There were people living at Cane Hill before. After they’ve built the new homes, there will be people living there again. How much bigger will the new development be compared to what was there before?

      For other people to care you have to convince them that you’re not all Nimbys. I don’t remember any big objections to the Caterham developments on the Barracks and St Lawrences sites. It isn’t like this is a people-free area that’s suddenly being filled – it’s a derelict area that’s being used for desperately needed new housing stock.

      We’re always told we need more housing stock but when some homes are actually built it seems all the homeowners nearby are being “crucified”.

      • Are you being more deliberately obtuse than usual?

        Cane Hill was a mental hospital, and asylum. Most of those interned there were not commuting from “executive homes” to jobs in London each day. Nor did many of them possess driving licences.

        It’s a cheap shot to declare residents who care about their neighbourhood as “Nimbys”, just because they require a better standard of planning of roads, sewage, schools and medical provision than is being insisted upon by the public authorities responsible for planning.

        No one, as far as we are aware, has said no to the houses proposed. But a large number of people, on both sides of the county boundary, have suggested that for 677 houses it might be a good idea if the developers provided more than 25 parking bays. Or that the developers ought to have to provide more than one road into their new village. Or even pay for a school to be built to serve the community created.

        The Mayor of London and Croydon Council have done none of those things.

        In whose interests are they acting?

  2. prometheus47 says:

    Has the residents association considered two other options?
    – Ask for zipcars to be provided so people don’t all need to own their individual cars. Requires much less parking space, popular option in Hackney
    – Ask for controlled parking zones on your own street to prevent overspill affecting your area

    Might be worth a try?

  3. John O'Brien says:

    Given that Purley was flooded by a bourne flowing from Coulsdon recently, one has to wonder whether this large estate of new houses will have sufficiently large sewage pipes to cope with increased volume of foul water.

  4. Have I understood your somewhat hysterical report correctly?

    A bunch of vociferous Coulsdon worthies have thrown their toys out of the pram, again, because Croydon Council has had the bare-faced audacity to call their bluff.

    There is plenty wrong with this Boris Johnson housing wheeze: the deferred purchase of the land; the minimal number of homes planned for the site; and the lack of medical facilities and additional school places.

    Personally I would prefer to see the ‘Metropolitan Land’ designation removed and an estate of the size and density of Forestdale or Park Hill built there instead.
    And I would like to see the estate managed by a Housing Association with lots of co-ownership tenancies offering a real opportunity for hard-working people on average wages to have a decent home.
    But the Tories have set their minds against homes for ordinary people anywhere in Croydon, as they have demonstrated so graphically elsewhere in the borough.
    Selfish Coulsdon residents have been raising objections to the development of the site for two decades or more. Until now they have succeeded in browbeating both Tory and Labour administrations.
    Let’s see if any of them has the bottle to put their money where their mouth is and risk the possible financial penalties of a judicial review.

  5. Paul Almeida says:

    It makes sense to have a deal to build schools, medical centre and other lacking services when you boost the population on an area. Coulsdon is a large area and more people in the right places would not be a problem but the lack of High Schools is a real problem as I’ve had to fight to get my son a place in the only local school a couple of years back. Its the only time I have contacted my local MP not that I ever got a reply.
    I’m sure Epsom had a new School built in return for building housing it makes sense!
    Have we been let down ? I’m not sure of the facts maybe a new school will be built with a medical centre and maybe proper urbanisation of the town.Plenty of parking in the new multi-story car park the developer will build to as they got the land for free! must be something in return? maybe its just the fortunate few that will benefit from the give a way of public land.

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