Property investor Philp comes up short on Purley ‘skyscraper’

Saffron SquareWe know that Chris Philp and Tim Pollard both read this website. So guys: Please take a look at the picture to the left. This is what people normally understand to be a “skyscraper”.

The picture shows what the towering tower at Saffron Square in West Croydon will look like when it is completed, “The centrepiece of the development… the impressive 43-storey tower, which will create a dominant focal point for the new Croydon skyline”, the developers gush.

Planning permission for Saffron Square’s tower, as well as the 55-storey Menta Tower skyscraper in Addiscombe and various other, developer-driven high-rise schemes in the northern part of the borough, were all granted during eight years of a Conservative-run Croydon Town Hall and under a Tory Mayor of London.

All protests from existing residents that such multi-million-pound schemes were in some way “inappropriate” for their neighbourhoods, or were aimed at overseas-based buy-to-let investors, rather than providing homes for local people, or that they represent over-development of certain parts of north and central Croydon, were waved aside – some might suggest somewhat arrogantly – by the then Tory council. It is worth remembering that most of Croydon’s Conservative councillors represent the south of the borough.

garden shedFor the avoidance of doubt, a skyscraper is usually defined as a very tall building. The clue’s in the name: it scrapes the sky.

More than 40 storeys is generally recognised as being a skyscraper. Less than that, pah…

To the right is a picture of a garden shed. This is not a skyscraper.

Coming from the leafy southern suburbs, a garden shed is something with which Tim Pollard, the leader of the local Tory group, ought to be familiar. After all, there will soon be a time when it will provide a suitable venue for a meeting of his local party membership.

And when Chris Philp has managed to spend a bit more time in Croydon, he, too, may come to know how essential such sheds are in the southern suburbia.

We offer this introduction to what is, and what is not, a skyscraper because in the past day or so, Messrs Philp and Pollard have shown that they are somewhat confused on the matter.

They have launched a petition against what they call a “skyscraper” in Purley. The building proposed is a mere 16 storeys tall. Pah…

Now, we appreciate that both Philp and Pollard may have been living very sheltered existences until now, but 16 storeys is by no one’s understanding what can fairly be described as a “skyscraper”.

At less than one-third of the proposed height of the Menta Tower which Pollard’s administration inflicted on the residents of Addiscombe with such enthusiasm, the Purley proposal barely qualifies as a tower block.


How the reduction in the building of council houses since Thatcher has directly influenced rising property prices

How the reduction in the building of council houses since Thatcher has directly influenced rising property prices. Whose interests have been served by such policies?

The objections raised by Pollard and Philp appear to be a piece of glorified nimby-ism: not in my backyard. While the Conservative-led government acknowledges that there is a housing crisis across London and the rest of the country (see the graph above if you want a nudge in the direction of why this might be), it appears that as far as Philp and Pollard are concerned, when it comes to providing 16 floors of new homes, including some social housing, they don’t want it on their patch. Such community mindedness.

Philp is a multi-millionaire who makes generous donations to the Tory Party. It has been suggested that this is what helped to secure his selection as the Conservative candidate for Croydon South, with its comfortably safe 16,000 majority. He failed to become an MP five years ago when he tried to challenge Labour veteran Glenda Jackson in Hampstead, and lost. Even today, there are some things which money cannot buy.

Philp made his millions by investing in… property developments. It seems he’s just not so keen on developments when he hasn’t got a stake in the action.


Yesterday, he sent an email to those unfortunate enough to be on his mailing list, in which the soon-to-be-MP showed that he is…

  • opposed to building social housing in his constituency; and
  • wants the hard-up council to refund a property developer with £2 million paid to provide  community improvements in the area

This is what Philp regards as a “compromise”.

Purley Cross: how would a 16-storey block be out of keeping with this?

Purley Cross and Tesco: how would a 16-storey block be out of keeping with this?

In his email, Philp claimed that, “The owner of the site, the local Baptist Church, wants to build a much smaller building which included community facilities.” Philp has been asked for evidence of this claim.

Philp’s prose renders him prone to ridicule, as he repeatedly refers to “the 16-floor skyscraper”. Pah.

Does he know what he’s talking about?

“I and other local campaigners…” Philp fails to state who these local campaigners might be, “…strongly believe that a 16 floor skyscraper is totally out of keeping with a town like Purley”.

Really? We realise that Philp was parachuted in to Croydon South for his selection, but has he never gazed upon the glorious vista that is Purley Cross and Tesco? But then, last week he even referred to Purley as a “market town”, so it is fair to say that his local knowledge is still a bit sketchy.

“There is a danger that other developers will later try to use it as a precedent to build other skyscrapers in the area,” Philp claims, again without offering any evidence for his scare-mongering.

“If the council drops its demands for the £2 million payment and the social housing…  then a much smaller building will be financially viable,” Philp wrote.

Philp and the Croydon Conservatives have their petition which, as well as objecting to the development, also allows respondents to show their support for a scheme which will provide much-needed social housing and £2 million-worth of community benefits for the people of Croydon.

The Tory petition is here. Do take part. You ought not have to provide your contact details (for the Tories’ latest data-scraping exercise) to register your view.

Of course, since the Tory petition is in the hands of the local Tories, there’s no knowing how fairly they might deal with the responses if they don’t chime with their own nimby agenda, so we encourage our loyal reader also to take part in our online poll, above.

Let’s see how many people really do agree with Pollard and Philp’s nimby-ist desire to refund millions of pounds to developers and deny some local nurses, firefighters or teachers the chance of moving into some really affordable, social housing in our borough.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, Addiscombe West, Business, Chris Philp MP, Croydon South, Environment, Housing, Menta Tower, Planning, Property, Purley, Tim Pollard and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Property investor Philp comes up short on Purley ‘skyscraper’

  1. davidcallam says:

    The site in question has been an eyesore, even by Purley Cross standards, for decades.

    Longer-standing residents will remember when it used to house a Sainsbury’s store. That was before the supermarket vacated it in favour of the now long closed premises beneath the multi-storey car park in the High Street.

    At last there is a proposal to make good use of the site.

    We need to ask whether the building will be 16 storeys at the Brighton Road boundary or on Russell Hill as there is a substantial fall to the site that would disguise a building’s height very well.

    In short, Mr Philp shows his ignorance of the area. Perhaps he was briefed by Richard Ottaway?

  2. Good grief, what’s all the fuss about?

    That part of Purley, the Not-the-Webb-Estate part, is hardly a place of scenic beauty and definitely not a World Heritage site as much as Master Philp, who is only a candidate and has no other official position, would have us believe it is.

    The centre of Purley, as far as there is one now, is a dreary drift of odd shops and cafes, charity shops, estate agents, more charity shops and a few restaurants. The proposed “skyscraper” can do nothing but good to the area. It will bring residents to enliven the local cafe scene, to use the smaller community shops and to make the survival of the swimming pool worthwhile. Purley needs people if it is to have any chance of surviving as anything but a conduit to Tesco’s and the station. The flats could do that.

  3. timbartell says:

    Mr Philp’s agent Jerry Mandering

  4. 16 stories will make it the biggest building for miles, possibly three times the nearest multi-story – the Royal Oak eyesore. Purley needs an antidote to Tesco’s – jobs, business regeneration and the rest, not just more residential. And you can be sure the building will be an eyesore

  5. John Newberry says:

    Having lived in Purley for decades, think that it is exciting that at least this complex facility will provide much needed community facilities for both the church and the locality, plus much needed housing and in the form of a Landmark building. Purley has needed regeneration for quite a while now and would hope that something can be agreed in the near future to allow this vision to succeed.

  6. It should be the locals who actually collaborate with the architects and builders to design buildings that are practical and beneficial to the local community. All i can see are massive residential developments that look hideously out of place with some housing estates resembling a by-gone eastern european development. Plain boring and badly designed. If we continue to allow a national construction framework policy we will see even more traffic, more badly designed housing, with little to no element of sustainability or vernacular design. The building therefore should be opposed.

  7. The enormous amount of flats that include ‘social housing’ schemes going up around Purley are ruining what used to be a great place – I have lived here for over 35 years! The arguments for cheap local housing for civil servants and firefighters etc are just ludicrous! Crime and dealing is highly visible on the streets where I live with my 2.4 children … This is a money making exercise from people who have no intention of dealing with the aftermath again … history folks … This will not only be an eyesore but it is being built on a point where two underground rivers meet … which are currently flooding the underpass at Tesco … you do the maths!

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