Parking problems see businesses quit Coulsdon town centre

Businesses are quitting Coulsdon, as trade has dropped off by as much as 50 per cent because of what residents and businesses  are describing as the “shambles” of the traffic and parking chaos created by on-going council works and developments in their usually busy town centre.

The writing's on the banner for Croydon Council

The writing’s on the banner for Croydon Council

The closure of the Lion Green car park in July; a new Aldi opening in the town centre, with a new junction; a block of more than 80 flats opening up by the stations with parking spaces for just 40 vehicles; Cane Hill and its 660 new homes due to open next year…

It seems that Coulsdon is caught at the centre of a “perfect storm” of traffic and planning problems all at the same time, and it is driving away customers, and traders.

“The council departments operate in silos,” one long-standing resident told Inside Croydon. “Planning doesn’t seem to discuss the matters with roads and traffic, and no one has bothered speaking to the people in education about schools and the traffic they attract. And it is the residents who end up having to live with the consequences.”

It is also a significant example of how Croydon’s two political parties and the elected councillors are jointly failing the borough, while council officials, in the powerful traffic and planning departments, continue to implement schemes which no locals appear to want.

“The current plans were dreamt up by the previous regime,” says another Coulsdon local, a member of one of the residents’ associations. “Now they’re trying to pretend it was nothing to do with them, and are blaming it on the current mob. They’re no better, though, because having opposed the car park closure and the traffic plans when they were not in power, now they are in power, they are happily carrying on with the work.

“It’s all very 1984.”

Lion Green car park, which used to provide parking for many visitors to Coulsdon, was closed by the council in July, ostensibly to begin building work on a new Waitrose supermarket and GPs’ surgery to service the Cane Hill housing estate which Barratt’s are building just outside Coulsdon. Apart from a Portakabin and a few test bore holes, nothing appears to have moved on since then, apart from causing parking problems in the town.

The only "Ambition" shown in central Coulsdon has been to inconvenience as many people as possible for the four months since the closure of the Lion Green car park

The only “Ambition” shown in central Coulsdon has been to inconvenience as many people as possible for the four months since the closure of the Lion Green car park

“I’ve seen fights over parking spaces,” said our first resident. “People just can’t come in to shop, visit a restaurant, anything… There are cars parked up on pavements, on double-yellow lines.

“Businesses are saying that their takings are down by 20 per cent, or as much as 50 per cent in some cases.”

Frames, the snooker hall, is having particular problems as a major venue for Surrey league pool tournaments – visiting players have no where to leave their cars. Electrical wholesalers QVS have packed up and left a clear sign for all to see of their reasons. Whichers, the long-established family-run firm of financial advisers with offices on a busy junction of the Brighton Road, are understood to be considering moving, as are solicitors McMillan Williams.

A local shop owner told Inside Croydon: “Footfall has really dropped and has really affected our business in what should be the busiest time of the year. My customers have said they are avoiding Coulsdon now and go to places like Banstead instead.

“One of the nail bars has lost 50 per cent of its customers. The newsagents no longer have the morning trade from commuters. I have had a couple of customers recently where I have had to drop items into their cars while they are waiting at the lights because there is no parking.

“I’ve heard that a meeting is planned with the council, but they do not seem to be listening about the risk to the local shops.”

Another vehicle goes over the middle of the roundabout at Coulsdon's new "enhanced junction"

Another vehicle goes over the middle of the roundabout at Coulsdon’s new “enhanced junction”

The resident told us, “The Aldi appears to have caused chaos on the roundabout with traffic stopping and waiting on the roundabout, or junction – drivers are never quite sure what it is supposed to be. I heard a council employee call it ‘an enhanced junction’, whatever that’s supposed to mean. It certainly doesn’t enhance the traffic flow.

“Aldi have applied to change the parking rules to allow only their own customers to park there.

“People are still stopping outside Tesco and parking on the double yellow lines outside. And meanwhile, Lion Green car park has been empty since July… there’s talk that it’s because they are waiting on the results from some archaeological tests.

“All in all, it’s a major shambles.”

And Coulsdon, while important, is only a district centre. Imagine what central Croydon might be like when the council begins to oversee work there, as the Whitgift Centre development begins, Wellesley Road is subject to extensive closures and building work starts at the Fairfield Halls. The Coulsdon experience hardly inspires confidence.

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About insidecroydon

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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to Parking problems see businesses quit Coulsdon town centre

  1. davidjl2014 says:

    That local shop keeper just about sums it all up. He/she has heard there’s a meeting planned with the Council but “they do not seem to be listening” Oh, they’re listening alright, but they are hearing things that they don’t want to hear. However, these people have an agenda, and they will stick to it come hell or high water, even if it’s proven so outrageously wrong at a later date. Stuff the Ratepayers of Croydon who pay their inflated wages and expenses. The Council knows best. Only 18 months in, and Brother Newman is heading to be remembered for leading the worst Croydon Council in living memory.

    • Thing is, this situation was created during the previous political administration. It matters not who we elect democratically, the council officials carry on implementing whatever schemes they devise, seemingly in perpetuity.

      That’s where the chasm of unaccountability really lies.

  2. davidjl2014 says:

    No, the chasm of unaccountability, as you so eloquent put it, relies entirely upon those elected. Democratically, such decisions of previous administrations can and have been reversed at local and national levels on many occasions. Check your history.

    • In theory, of course you’d expect policy decisions to be reversed. In practice, and in judging the performance at Croydon Town Hall, this is not the case.

      That you are unable to cite a single example to support your assertion tends towards supporting the view that it is the paid council officials, particularly the six-figure salaried “directors”, who determine borough policy, and the local elections are mere window-dressing.

  3. Steve, it pains me to say so, but I think you are wrong.
    You say that local elections are mere window-dressing.
    At least with window dressing, although all gussied up, you get some indication of what is actually in the shop. With our local elections,you rightly say, you don’t. They are much more akin to the sales pitches of itinerant snake-oil salesmen or to the emission promises of a VW consultant.

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