Croydon’s previous, Tory-led council administration – who have spent their first few months in opposition re-affirming their credentials for backing rich landlords over the interests of tenants’ rights – gave planning permission to a multi-millionaire developer to have “Poor Doors” in one of the most prestigious new builds in the borough.
The Morello development on Cherry Orchard Road, next to East Croydon Station (what was formerly known as the Menta site), is being developed by Redrow and is already offering two-bedroom flats for sale for an eye-watering £359,000.
But to keep the owners of these Yuppie flats a comfortable distance away from those in the handful of affordable homes being included in the new blocks, Redrow have embarked on a policy of “apartment apartheid”, with separate entrances for the different “classes” of property.
At another “prestige” development of a high-rise, high-cost flats – this positioned at the centre of a West Croydon traffic roundabout and called the IYLO, until renamed “The Island” – avoided the need for such Poor Doors by promising its customers, many of them buy-to-let property investors based in the Far East, that there would be no flats in the block occupied by anyone claiming benefits.
Such an option was not available to the Morello developers, who instead sought, and were granted by the previous Conservative council, permission for segregated entrances to their building.
A Guardian investigation in the summer found Poor Doors were on the increase in new builds in central London, when builders are required to include affordable homes in order to win planning permission. Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated.
Many new builds include communal areas which look as if they belong in a five-star hotel. Service charges to maintain these facilities are high, and a separate entrance means housing associations and their tenants do not face these extra costs.
However, separate entrances clearly risk creating divided communities, and in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has moved to prevent any new developments in Manhattan and other sought-after addresses from having segregated access.
Redrow have used Poor Doors at their development at No1 Commercial Street in Whitechapel, which has segregated entrances and services for social housing tenants and private owners. No1 Commercial Street has been subjected to rowdy demonstrations for the past three months.
According to Labour council cabinet member Paul Scott, “The Redrow scheme (which we opposed) does have the ‘Poor Door’ approach, although they are looking at moving all the affordable homes into a separate development next door.
“Given the circumstances that would probably be better though.
“Most housing associations prefer having separate entrances, lifts, stairs etc, otherwise their tenants get lumbered with huge service charges. But that certainly does not mean that their entrance should be stuck round the back or look like some kind of servants’ entrance.
“This is a big issue for us on the council now and we are actively seeking to make ‘Poor Doors’ a thing of the past in Croydon.”
Coming to Croydon
- The Goon Show, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 8-11
- Upper Norwood Library meeting, Oct 13
- David Lean Cinema: Grand Central, Oct 14
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- David Lean Cinema: Finding Vivian Maier, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- Purley War Memorial Hospital health fair, Oct 18
- David Lean Cinema: Mood Indigo, Oct 23
- This Was The World and I Was King, Spread Eagle, Oct 23-25
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, 2.30pm, Oct 25
- David Lean Cinema: Ilo Ilo, Oct 28
- CODA’s Wind In The Willows, Charles Cryer, Carshalton, Oct 29-Nov 1
- David Lean Cinema: Belle, Oct 30
- NHS free health fair, Central Parade, New Addington, Oct 31
- St Giles School opening morning, Nov 5
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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