“Poor Doors” show how town centre subsidises suburbs

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Having worked to establish a community organisation for East Croydon, ROD DAVIES finds it disappointing to find developers planning to introduce divisive “Apartment Apartheid” locally, and suggests further inequalities in which parts of the borough fund other areas

This news of segregated entrances is a disappointing development just as the East Croydon Community Group (now to be called ECCO) has just held a very inclusive and positive first public meeting last week.

What developers Redrow call the "Morello Quarter", their development at East Croydon which will have separate entrances for social housing and private residents

What developers Redrow call the “Morello Quarter”, their development at East Croydon which will have separate entrances for social housing and private residents

I can understand how it adds to the marketing to people abroad who have fixed ideas about social housing tenants, and who will never live in the properties themselves and want to ensure the best return on their investments.

But I find it disappointing because the last thing we need is any more division at a time when we are trying to come together and support each other to make the whole community better.

The problem is that land and property owners have a free hand to limit supply to the market by driving up asking prices and impeding development through planning consultation.

In addition the scope for responding to the desperate need for large quantities of social housing construction is severely limited by planning guidelines that restrict developments outside the centre of Croydon to nothing higher than three storeys. While this does preserve the 1920s and 1930s environments of the leafy streets, it means that there is inevitably an insufficient supply of space to provide decent housing for the poor (actually, the average person in Croydon today).

Further, it concentrates social problems into very small areas that lack the capacity to cope with them, and requires the residents in the areas adjacent to the high density developments and concentrated social housing to live with and accept enormous social change, unlike the majority of Croydon. Yet they receive no recompense for the impact.

A resident of central Croydon, whose life is blighted by all the exploitative private sector developments that are marketed abroad and the increasing density of occupation of rented houses by the economically marginal, might well ask what justification does Croydon Council spend any money in beautifying the outer areas when it can’t even keep the streets clean in the centre.

What is desperately needed in Croydon is a detailed analysis of how and on whom the council spends its funds in relation to the very different population density between the centre and the edges of the town, and the actual cost of delivering those services.

I rather suspect that we’d find that inner Croydon has been subsidising outer Croydon for decades and the imbalance is getting worse.

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7 Responses to “Poor Doors” show how town centre subsidises suburbs

  1. Oh for christs sake, spare us the pity. There are people who will be lined up for a brand new flat. So bloody what if they have a different door they need to use?

    They should be grateful that they have such a great opportunity. I certainly know I have never been that lucky.
    Oh and don’t forget the majority of those using the “posh” door will be paying council tax, whilst those using the “poor” doors are most likely to get free council tax.

    The very least that those who buy their flats deserve is there own dedicated entrance. I can guarantee you 100% that the “paid for” common areas will be kept far better that the “free” common areas. All an inconvenient truth for you, yet its a truth never the less.

    • For the avoidance of doubt, Hamilton is a supporter of the Winston McKenzie party.

      • Is it really necessary to refer to me by my surname? By all means disagree, but I think there is no need for rudeness.
        Of course it is the UKIP party that I am a supporter of. I feel no shame in that but clearly you feel its something that needs mentioning. A pretty typical response from someone who is clearly on the opposite side of my own beliefs.

        • Only a Kipper could contrive to take offence at being referred to by his given name.

          Interesting that you attempt to distance yourself from Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s candidate in Croydon North. Wonder why?

          But yes, if you spout spite and bile, laced with a heavy measure of deliberate misinformation, then it is a useful public service for our loyal reader to point out that you are one of Farage’s foot soldiers.

  2. I was discussing with a GP this weekend the problem of highly concentrated developments with no play space and proper urban planning for seniors and child development. He was very concerned about some of the areas in West Croydon and how the area is going to cope with even higher population levels.

  3. An interesting article, thank you.

    I think alot of opposition to high density development comes from what was built in the 1950s and 1960s. Much of this was poorly built and in some many has since been torn down. While I agree we should be building at high densities, I don’t think it needs to be tower blocks. As the Victorians proved, terraced housing can be both desirable, durable and high density.

    It will be interesting to see whether tower blocks being built now (both social and private) will last more than 30-35 years.

  4. davidcallam says:

    I agree with David Fell.

    In an early job I worked in Old People’s Welfare in inner London. We were regularly answering emergency calls from pensioners stuck in 10th-floor-plus flats where the cheap and nasty lift (just the one) fitted by the local authority had broken down, yet again.

    The problem was never the design of the building, always the cheese-paring approach of the council. Private developments often have a lift lobby with six or more lifts. If one breaks down its not a big problem.

    I also agree with David that terraced housing is high density. Too many authorities have given arty-farty architects a free-hand designing estates and then wonder why the houses are unpopular with tenants.

    I remember one estate where neither the emergency services, nor post or milk men knew where all the front doors were. We needed a large scale map to direct visiting social workers and would still receive panic phone calls from lost colleagues.

    As to Poor Doors, I dislike the discrimination intensely, but I recognise that we need to generate money from somewhere to subsidise the building of social housing. Government won’t make it available, since it is still Tory policy to encourage home ownership, whether people can afford it or not. Labour nationally seems to agree.

    Maybe we should allow town centre developers to maximise the value of their investments by excluding affordable flats and then demand substantial contributions from them under S106 which we can put towards the cost of building truly affordable homes elsewhere in the borough.

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