The owners of the old Purley Town Hall want to dig underneath it to create eight new flats.
The building, which has listed status, is home to around two dozen apartments already.
The development proposals, submitted in May by Herald Holdings, are thought not to be widely known – as a result of some of the initiatives from “Big” Eric Pickles when he was running the local government department in Whitehall, local planning authorities, such as Croydon Council, are no longer required to send letters to owners of neighbouring properties which might be affected by a development when it applies for planning permission. These days, the council gets by with a mere sheet attached to a lamp post near the property in question.
As a consequence, even some of the current residents living in the old Town Hall were unaware of what their landlords propose to do with the building.
One contacted Inside Croydon after happening on the notification almost by chance. “I only found out end of last week about this when I saw the note on the lamppost swinging in the wind and was curious what it said,” they said.
“After looking at the plans online, in my opinion this will ruin this beautiful building. Every day I admire the character of the building.
“Unfortunately nobody knows of this application to ruin this building as the freeholders have not contacted any of the residents and the only notice is a A4 bit of paper wrapped around a lamp post by Croydon Council.
“Croydon should be protecting its rich heritage and architecture.”
Other objectors have said of the proposals, “These planned building works will cause severe disruption, noise and affect the quality of life for all the residents. The excavation work may possibly cause structural problems to the building which could in turn affect the value of the existing properties.
“The proposed works will be of no benefit to the character of the building, in fact it could totally lose its character that attracted buyers in the first instance.”
The deadline for objections to create these eight flats for troglodytes is July 16.
The Grade II-listed building on the A23 Brighton Road was built in the colonial style and opened in 1930 as the offices for the then Purley and Coulsdon urban district council. With the local council reorganisation in 1965, it became the property of the London Borough of Croydon and was sold to developers, though it laid derelict for many years before being converted in 2012 into 23 flats, including some “affordable” properties which were initially operated under the Orbit Housing Association.
“The Old Town Hall is in my opinion a landmark building of historical and architectural importance to the whole of Purley,” the resident told Inside Croydon.
“It is a beautiful building, its Grade II-listed for a reason. If you own a listed building, you are a guardian of it, to preserve it.
“They plan to excavate under the building and make a huge basement area that they will make into flats. I’m guessing they realise that as it is a listed building, they cannot build on top of it so by going under they think it wont be as bad!” said the resident.
“They state that it will be ‘in keeping’ with the original design. But having chunks of it filled in with new brick just isn’t going to look right.”
The building sits in Coulsdon West ward, which has three Conservative councillors. Last month, they published an article entitled, “Is our built heritage safe with Labour?” Inside Croydon has not been able to find anywhere in which the councillors have spoken out to protect the built heritage of the old Purley Town Hall.
The local Tory MP, Chris Philp, has been quick to condemn other proposed developments in and around Purley which he considered to go against the “character” of the area. It will be interesting to see what position the self-made multi-millionaire, who has made much of his fortune by investing with private developers, takes over the plans for the future of this piece of local architectural heritage.
The planning application is No 15/02319/P & 15/02320/LB. Click here to visit the official council planning page for the proposals and post comments.
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