CROYDON COMMENTARY: Last week’s council planning meeting, the final one of 2016, was “a shameful night” for the borough, according to CHRIS MASSEY, a concerned local resident
The meeting of the council’s planning committee last week was a shameful night, as more development was passed on political grounds rather than on integrity and common sense. Councillors voted with their political peers rather than their conscience.
It seemed obvious to me from the start that their decisions had been made well in advance, to vote with their political party – Labour following the planning officials’ reports, Conservatives generally voting against because they are the “opposition” – and this was them just paying lip service to the process.
The development of a tower block in the centre of Purley was passed with all the Labour councillors on the committee voting in favour, citing that:
- Young people (all the new proposed occupiers apparently) do not own cars and so would have no need to worry about parking.
- It is a “landmark building” that Purley town centre needs and will regenerate the area. So regeneration equals building a 17-storey block of unaffordable flats it seems.
The other decision of the night to concern me was the authorisation of the destruction of a piece of the borough’s Victoria heritage, St Edmund’s Church by Wandle Park. This badly neglected building’s fate was sealed along much of the same lines of arguments as Purley, and coincidentally by the same councillors.
One councillor even stated that the new development was (ahem) “a beautiful-looking building” and was a fitting place for this housing block.
It was obvious that a few passed no comment when it was their chance to speak and voted because they were expected to follow their party nor their conscience.
The planning committee chair, Paul Scott, voiced his opinion I feel inappropriately. Surely that is not his role? He should be there to facilitate, conduct and moderate the proceedings, and not to interject and dismiss objections to the scheme. Perhaps as I’m new to this local council stuff I naively misunderstood his role.
I know that in the commercial world such behaviour would not be allowed. There is obviously a conflict of interest with the chair forcing his political agenda through this meeting. I was just amazed when I saw this happen!
Perhaps the public would have more faith in the process if all councillors at least had the dignity to say publicly that they do not approve of the developments in front of them, but will vote on what they are instructed to do so by their political party.
All in all, I felt that it was a bad day for Croydon but hey… it a very positive step for those with an agenda to redevelop the borough seemingly at any cost.
More coverage on recent planning issues:
- Nasty Party goes to war over church’s Purley tower block
- Victorian pub the Waddon Hotel put at risk by planning vote
- 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
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