Officials in Fisher’s Folly, the council’s headquarters offices, are now so short-staffed that they are using Inside Croydon to check their official documents for them.
So it was yesterday, after this website highlighted that an application had been removed from the planning committee’s agenda “to be dealt with under delegated powers”, potentially denying an elected councillor from the affected ward from airing his objections at the meeting.
In the event, Waddon councillor Andrew Pelling was permitted to speak at last night’s planning meeting, though he still had a long wait, being called on the application to build five flats on the site of a disused electricity sub-station close to Waddon Station after 10.30pm, more than five hours into the marathon session.
After his long wait, Pelling wanted the planning committee to wait a bit longer, too, asking them to defer the application until after Transport for London’s delayed consultation on the Fiveways junctions improvements, which is now expected in the spring. Pelling says TfL’s proposals, an attempt to untangle the Gordian knot that is the traffic congestion on the Purley Way, will be a lot different from what has been shown before.
Pelling told the committee that his position was “pro-development”, but that he is worried that allowing one block of five flats to go ahead would shut down the council’s options for easing traffic flows into the town centre in preparation for when the Westfield supermall opens. It could also put at risk the nearby Waddon Hotel, one of the few heritage buildings which remain in the area.
Road widening options would be limited by the application, Pelling said, with TfL already conceding that they will drop a right turn from northbound traffic into Epsom Road because of lack of space on Epsom Road.
Paul Scott, the planning committee chair, did not seem overly concerned with the consequences of granting planning permission to the developer, even for just a handful of new homes. Labour councillor Scott is, of course, the partner of Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the council who has responsibility for delivering thousands of new homes in the borough.
It seems that Scott, from his position as planning committee chair, is determined to use his influence to push through as many housing schemes as possible, as quickly as possible, regardless of their merits or, indeed, the costs to the public purse.
Clearly, money’s no object for Scott, provided it is other people’s money. “TfL can always CPO the land if necessary,” Scott spoke from the chair last night, apparently relaxed that a lot more public money would have to be paid for a site which now has planning permission. The developer must be delighted.
Scott argued that the committee could not ask the developer to wait, especially with TfL having agreed to take just 5ft of the proposed development land and dropping their objection. A Croydon planning officer advised that no objections had been raised by the council’s own transport officers. As if they’d dare, with Councillor Scott to deal with…
In the event, the matter was put to a vote of the committee, with seven in favour – including one Tory councillor and Pelling’s Waddon colleague, Joy Prince – with three Tories voting against.
And the council’s little administrative error?
A council source said that the confusion over whether the matter was to be considered by the planning committee or not was a mistake, as it was another application, for the redevelopment of Norbury Police Station, which was taken off the agenda.
“The line stating ‘the following application has been withdrawn’ was erroneously placed above item 7.4 instead of 7.2 (Norbury Police Station),” an overworked and clearly anxious council official advised today. “The error was corrected 13:25 on Thursday 15 December.”
Or about an hour after they’d read it on Inside Croydon.
More coverage on recent planning issues:
- Nasty Party goes to war over church’s Purley tower block
- East Croydon’s Bridge to Nowhere won’t be finished until 2024
- Council’s £1m discount on flats secures planning permission
- MP Reed joins criticism of overdevelopment by Brick by Brick
- Croydon’s only independent news source, and based in the heart of the borough: 2.1 million page views 2014-2016
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