‘Apartment Apartheid’ arrives in Croydon via the back door

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.

How Redrow's Morello development is being marketed, with 2-bed flats selling for £350,000. And no "riff-raff"

How Redrow’s Morello development is being marketed, with 2-bed flats selling for £350,000. And no “riff-raff”

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.

Paul Scott: new council in Croydon opposes Poor Doors

Paul Scott: new council in Croydon opposes Poor Doors

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.”

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5 Responses to ‘Apartment Apartheid’ arrives in Croydon via the back door

  1. “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.”

    This is not the Socialist Republic of Croydon. Why should some pay market prices and the others pay less? Why do some people want affordable posh homes? I live in a terraced house paying £1100 mortgage (or not paying now and the bank want to sell it). Will I get an affordable posh flat?

    Can the housing associations afford the extra costs?

    Are you suggesting that housing associations should offer Yuppie lifestyle for less?

    • Rod Davies says:

      Allegedly your opening statement isn’t entirely true. There is (allegedly) a mixed development close to Park Hill Park, the Crown Courts and a hotel, where the social housing tenants have to contribute to a concierge service for the 25 Fl non-social housing tower block that they do not use at all.

      The poor will always pay for the rich – that’s how the rich stay rich!

      However I can acknowledge that I find it difficult to imagine that these mixed / joined private / social housing developments will be viable as the basic operation costs are beyond what the poor can afford. Without a total revision of planning permissions, backed up by punitive fines for developers who breach them, there is scant possibility that anyone with a combined household income of £75,000+ will be able to afford to live here. It may even provide a very strong argument for polygamy / polyandry where the monogamous marriage simply is no longer viable to be able to securely obtain and sustain a reasonable home and enjoy a family life.

      Alternatively we should bring back the workhouse and concentration camps for the salary challenged.

  2. KristianCyc says:

    Poor doors don’t create divided communities, they are merely a very visible manifestation of an already divided community. The problem is that society is becoming so unequal with the ever growing gap between the richest and poorest. Covering up the problem by banning poor doors doesn’t address the real (national) issue, but I haven’t seen any convincing ideas being put out there to address inequality.

  3. davidcallam says:

    I find myself agreeing substantially with both Patrick and Kristian.

    Politicians of all political stripes will raise almost any red herring to avoid addressing a problem for which they have no answer. Thousands of families on average wages cannot afford to buy or rent a decent home in Croydon, whichever entrance they use. Thousands more, who don’t have a job or the prospect of one, have no chance of qualifying for social housing because Tories and Labour alike have made sure there isn’t any to let.

    So the Tories support landlords in an attempt to scuttle an ill-thought out registration scheme while Labour obsess about “poor doors”.

    And the political elite wonder why voters up and down the country are turning in desperation to UKIP?

  4. Pingback: Menta-Redrow Social Housing Approach? | East Croydon community web site

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