Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council, has given what he calls “a crystal clear” commitment to opposing any development of housing on Love Lane green.
Love Lane green is formed from former playing fields besides the tram lines in Woodside, the ward Newman represents as a councillor. The open space, after years of neglect and repeatedly failed planning applications from previous owners, has more recently been turned into a community gardens and play area by local residents. But new landowners want to build on the site.
It was standing room only at an “engagement meeting” (this was not a formal consultation, you understand) in a small room at the Stanley Halls last week, where the property developer who now owns the land presented initial, and deliberately vague, outline details of what he would like to do with the site.
Locals feel that the homes would squeeze the open space almost out of existence. “They propose to sandwich the remaining green behind their development running between it and the tram line,” they said.
Asked for his support by the community group which has tended and cared for the gardens, this weekend Newman wrote, “To be crystal clear, as a council and as your local councillor’s [sic] we will 100 per cent oppose any plans to build on the site, which is designated in our local plan quite rightly as ‘metropolitan open land’.”
One of the other “councillor’s” in Woodside referred to by Newman is Paul Scott, part of the Labour leader’s close clique which controls the council. Scott is the chair of the planning committee which would have to rule on any planning applications submitted for Love Lane. Scott’s partner is Newman’s deputy leader of the council, Alison Butler, whose cabinet brief is to deliver thousands of new homes in the borough.
One of the residents who attended last week’s meeting with the developers was, not surprisingly, unimpressed with the plans offered.
“They didn’t want to share the number of units they intend building,” the resident told Inside Croydon. “When pressed, they said just 14.
“We think this is an arbitrary figure that was used on the previous owners’ planning development. I understand that this used to be the most amount of homes that can be built before the developer is required to include social housing.
“Both the architect, Kevyan Lankarhani, and the owner, Nevyan Markov, attended. Both unfortunately were unwilling to see what the green has come to mean to local residents and described the area that the residents have cleared and used as a garden and play area as ‘unsightly’.
“When asking the residents what we wanted on the land several asked for the fence to be removed and that the whole of the site be returned to a green space for residents. No one in the room was positive about the proposed development.
“After being patronised by Mr Markov one too many times I put him absolutely straight on our aspirations for the land and that his drawings weren’t good enough, and that he should try harder next time. To which there was a round of applause. I’d say it was a success.”
Jane Avis, a councillor for the neighbouring South Norwood ward who attended the meeting, has donated some money from her ward budget to the Friends of Love Lane, and residents are planning a community meeting early in the new year which will address issues such as the continue use of their award-winning Play Street scheme and an application to have Love Lane green registered by the council as an Asset of Community Value.
Emma Hope-Fitch, of the Love Lane Project, has written to members of the community about last week’s meeting. In her email, she said, “I think it is fair to say that the consensus in the room was that this design is not good enough for our community.
“The consultants have not yet contacted Thames Water and seemed unaware of any plans that Transport for London had to extend the tramlink to Crystal Palace, although they are certain that TfL no longer want the site for sidings.
“There was no information on how many properties would be built and how the extra traffic and pollution would be dealt with.
“I made it clear that I, personally, do not want the land built on and that these plans were inadequate, as did others in the room. The developer and consultants plan to readdress their drawings and hold another workshop.”
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