Woodside residents given fortnight to review Oasis plans

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Residents in Woodside have just received a special Christmas present – more than 2,000 pages of planning proposals for the Oasis Arena Academy, all to be reviewed and commented on by December 25. Not surprising that FRANCES FEARON is not feeling very festive

Christmas turkeyFor the residents of Woodside, Christmas is cancelled.

Two years ago, Woodside residents were told by Croydon Council official Pip Hesketh that they were privileged. For Croydon Council was going to build a new Academy on the tiny Ryelands site. Weren’t we honoured?

It was akin to offering a Christmas turkey to a vegetarian.

So after two years of secretly planning, measuring and fudging, Croydon Council has finally released the plans for the Academy at Arena, and very entertaining some of it is, too.

Residents have no technical expertise, no architects, solicitors, groundworks experts, mathematical modellers or other specialists to help them plough through the 17 reports with a total of 2,078 pages, plus the 27 drawings included in the planning application. And plough through them we must, for there are inaccuracies.

The traffic assessment alone is 1,303 pages long. We have been given until to Christmas Day – barely a fortnight – to lodge any objections. Croydon Council has had two years to work on its plans, and all done at public expense. From our Council Tax.

Residents were graciously offered a sneak preview of the monstrous behemoth a few days before the plans were published.

What they want to build is a utilitarian block, budget building that will tower over their Victorian terraced houses, changing one resident’s view over the South Norwood Country Park to a view of a brick wall with an overlooking window (no doubt giving pupils a glimpse into someone’s private life during boring lessons).

Throughout the year, pupils will also enjoy a magnificent view over the gardens of local residents. The lovely manicured walk to Arena tram stop seen in earlier plans has gone. There is a larger car park, but with fewer car parking space and no spaces for coaches.

Council leader Tony 'Father Christmas' Newman has managed to meet Simon Cowell as many times has he has met with his Woodside residents to discuss the Arena Academy plans

Council leader Tony ‘Father Christmas’ Newman has managed to meet Simon Cowell as many times as he has met with his Woodside residents to discuss the Arena Academy plans

Is this a Christmas magical illusion? No. To make this larger car park with fewer car parking spaces, Croydon Council intends to help themselves to Metropolitan Open Land, thank you very much.

And, while they are at it, the council wants to plonk a multi-use games area there as well, in order that they may fulfill government guidelines for the building of secondary schools, you see.

The elves who magicked the parking and travel assessments seem to have forgotten that we have cars, or perhaps they are assuming that, like Santa’s sledge, we can park them on our roofs when there are no spaces available. The school car park is now to serve both the Academy and users of the sports Arena. Except there are now fewer car parking spaces.

So how will they manage that?

Well, there will be the “No car” days for teachers, presumably when they will considerately park their cars in local roads instead…

And where do all the coaches go now? There were 20 at one of the events staged at the Arena last year. We counted them all out and we counted them all back again. Even with the teachers’ “No car” days, the manoeuvring space for coaches in the (larger) car park will tax even the most experienced driver.

This week, residents finally got their wish to meet their elusive Woodside councillors: Father Tony Christmas, Paul “Snowman” Scott, and Faithful Hamida Elf. Hooray! We were all very excited! Would there be presents?

Well, at last, council leader Tony Newman agreed to represent the residents. Bit late now, Father Tony Christmas, but graciously we said thank you.

Oh, and by the way, Paul Scott – who was previously a governor of an Oasis school – admits he has only read “some” of the many documents. And he refuses to read the 1,303 page traffic assessment. Paul Scott is the chairman of the planning committee, after all, but he is also our local councillor.

And a very happy Christmas to you Croydon Council. Bah! Humbug!

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3 Responses to Woodside residents given fortnight to review Oasis plans

  1. KristianCyc says:

    Having looked at the traffic analysis document (so just 1 of 47 docs) I’m very sympathetic. Would take me weeks to go through in detail, but I just don’t have that sort of time on my hands (who does?!).

    I think the council is probably leaving itself vulnerable to judicial review due to such a short timescale for consultation on such a major project. It’s hard not to conclude that they are counting on the residents of woodside being unable to get organised enough to take on that venture.

    A lot of the problems here come down to concerns about motor traffic, not surprising since the current situation is already problematic. Yet I was struck reading the document that the estimated number of people travelling to the school by car was 10% of the total (assuming no improvements to transport infrastructure). Such huge problems caused by a transport mode delivering so few people to their destination should raise eyebrows.

  2. I’m personally more concerned that a formerly secular school is being handed over to a religious group.

    Local schools should be welcoming for all local children – not catering for particular belief systems. Is there any room for objection on those grounds?

    • You could certainly object, though since the previous council administration signed a contract with Oasis to provide it with a school in the area, it would suggest that the whole consultation process is, in any case, a foregone conclusion.

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