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 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.“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.”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.
- Inside Croydon Events: for dates and links to what’s happening in and around Croydon, updated daily, click here
Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014.
- Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 729,297 page views in 2014.
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org