WALTER CRONXITE reports on another foregone conclusion at the council’s planning committee, a decision which will blight development in the town centre until 2024, at least
Croydon’s pusillanimous planning committee, under the chairmanship of Paul “Five Hats” Scott, last night made a decision which will ensure the delay in completion of the pedestrian bridge at East Croydon Station until at least 2024 – more than a decade after most of the £22million structure was built.
The council planning sub-committee, by a 4-0 vote with a single abstention, opted to grant planning permission retrospectively to what a ward councillor has described as ““an eyesore, and an affront to local residents”, even though its owners plonked their “marketing suite” alongside the railway lines months ago, illegally, and without waiting for permission.
Inside Croydon’s nickname for the access bridge at the northern end of East Croydon Station, the “Bridge to Nowhere”, got another airing in the Town Hall last night. While it provides access to Dingwall Road, the exit to Cherry Orchard Road on the other side of the tracks remains closed, unfinished, four years since engineering work was mostly completed.
The bridge, paid for jointly by Network Rail, Transport for London and Croydon Council, might need a new nickname now: the Never Finished Bridge.
The bridge was supposed to have an exit on the Addiscombe side on land owned by Redrow Menta, where they are building a series of residential blocks. Somehow, someone in the legal departments of Network Rail, TfL or – surely not? – Croydon Council, failed to get a cast-iron undertaking from the developers that the bridge could be completed and the access route provided. And the developers have since effectively blocked even a temporary ramp from the bridge.
In 2011, despite objections from local Labour councillors and the Tory MP, Gavin Barwell, Menta was granted planning permission for their hideously over-tall 55-storey tower.
Then, they said publicly that it would be a five-year build. To this day, they have not even started work on the tower. And they reckon that they won’t start work on it for at least another couple of years, which is why they are using the site for their Portakabin “marketing suite”, or as local councillor Sean Fitzsimons calls it, “the world’s shortest skyscraper”.
Despite having the unpermitted bungalow development on the site for months, Croydon Council has failed to take any enforcement action against Menta Redrow – as they might do, say, if a resident built an extension on their home without planning permission; our council is acquiring a reputation for being ruthless with individual house-owners.
Last night, Scott, together with his fellow Labour councillor Humayun Kabir and Tory councillors Chris Wright and Sue Winborn, voted to wave the Menta bungalow through, as recommended by council planning officials. Of the planning sub-committee, only councillor Joy Prince abstained.
Not that this is a party political issue: the developers have been taking the piss out of the interests of local people, their elected representatives and the council for years, something which should be obvious whatever colour rosette you wear. Yet given an opportunity to enforce planning laws, Croydon’s craven council opted to do nothing against the wealthy and powerful owners of the site.
The councillors, having been advised by planning officials, caved in on the grounds that Menta claimed that they are not going to start on site for at least two years, and so the council couldn’t refuse to give temporary permission for this time.
“Sadly, planning permission for world’s smallest skyscraper granted tonight. Means Menta won’t deliver link to East Croydon Station until 2024,” Fitzsimons, who represents Addiscombe ward, tweeted from the meeting.
“Menta’s marketing suite means no proper link to the East Croydon ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ from Cherry Orchard Road for another seven years,” he added.
Today, Fitzsimons told Inside Croydon, “I was always expecting the application to be approved, but it was important to publicly shame Menta over their failure to deliver a link to the bridge. It was also a chance to rebuke officers and councillors for their support for 2011 planning application which was never deliverable.
“Instead, they have blighted this site and the ex-council owned Cherry Orchard Gardens sites for years, and for years to come.”
More coverage on recent planning issues:
- Council planners join with developer to block objections
- Council’s £1m discount on flats secures planning permission
- MP Reed joins criticism of overdevelopment by Brick by Brick
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