CROYDON COMMENTARY: East Croydon resident ROD DAVIES joins the debate about the over-development of the town centre, with a warning for the future
If the Greater London Authority is correct that Croydon needs to provide 40,000-plus homes in the future, and existing residents in what are currently the borough’s leafy suburbs object to any significant development in their areas, then there is little option but to construct a very densely populated town centre with little access to green space, unless everyone is willing to share the burden of providing space for housing.
Ultimately it is all about the choices we make.
However, in my opinion there is an additional factor that everyone appears to be missing. If this high-rise town centre is constructed to meet demand, we will have the potential for further division in the borough. Already there is a north~south split between Labour and Conservative-voting areas.
Once the town centre is developed, we will have another distinct community that will generate very high levels of Council Tax per hectare. It will have very little public realm to pay for and it will be very cheap to deliver public services to.
How long will it be until this community starts to object to subsidising the outer areas?
Consider the Menta-Redrow developments. I estimate that they will generate something in excess of 30 times the Council Tax per hectare than, say, Shirley and Sanderstead.
As this development occupies only a short stretch of Cherry Orchard Road, there will be few lampposts to pay for, their bins will be emptied swiftly from central points, and due to their proximity to the hospital, ambulances will easily hit performance targets.
Being next to the railway station and the town centre, the development doesn’t require an extensive network of suburban streets to be maintained. The list of differences goes on.
In my opinion, a dynamic will be created for a third geographical entity in Croydon that has none of the political allegiances to either the local Conservative or Labour Parties. It may well elect councillors as independents or from other parties (such as the Greens or LibDems) who could then hold the balance in any council.
They may well start asking some very difficult questions about where council income is raised and where it is spent, and that may lead to the outer suburban areas being faced with significant reductions in services.
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