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
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.
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!
- Arena trams ‘most congested part of network’ says Councillor Bee
- Own goals galore scored on Croydon’s school playing fields
- Newman refuses to halt ‘bias’ on Arena academy ‘stitch-up’
- Is it time to park ill-considered plans for the Arena Academy?
- Arena Academy proposals look like a quart for a pint-sized plot
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema, ’71, Dec 11
- Mayor of Croydon’s charity Christmas dinner, Dec 12
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- Concert of Christmas music, St Luke’s, Woodside, Dec 13
- Opera Soiree at Whitgift School, Dec 14
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Spread Eagle’s Christmas Improv show, Dec 17
- David Lean Cinema, Northern Soul, Dec 18
- David Lean Cinema, Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, Dec 29
- David Lean Cinema, The Beat Beneath My Feet, Dec 30
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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