Croydon Council’s hopes to begin road works in Surrey Street next month could be thrown into disarray because legal deeds prevent them moving the market traders into Exchange Square, as WALTER CRONXITE reports
Croydon Council is considering moving the fruit and veg stalls from Surrey Street into nearby Exchange Square for the duration of its proposed £1million road works and “improvements” – but they forgot to bother mentioning this to the managers of the flats which overlook the square.
It is the latest example of the council’s bungled “consultation” with residents, traders and other businesses over the regeneration of Surrey Street, Croydon’s 750-year-old marketplace. And it might yet scupper the council’s rushed plan, because Exchange Square, which includes the listed pumping station, is subject to legal deeds which could block any such move, even temporarily – something which the Town Hall’s lawyers ought to have known about.
A poorly publicised meeting last week saw the rejection of several key proposals put forward by Mark Watson, the “pound a croissant” Labour councillor and council cabinet member responsible for the lacklustre Sunday market and other half-baked proposals which have been imposed on the people who work, live and shop down the market.
It was at that meeting that the possibility was first aired publicly of decamping the weekly street market into Exchange Square while the resurfacing work goes ahead.
“That was the first we’d heard about it,” a director of the company which manages The Exchange for residents of the block of flats on Scarbrook Road told Inside Croydon.
In common with ward councillors and the management of the market pub, the Dog and Bull, representatives of The Exchange were barely considered when it came to inviting them to the council’s latest “consultation” meeting. “We were not invited to the meeting – though I got wind and attended,” the director said.
Exchange Square and the disused pumping station are among Croydon’s under-used gems, but no one – property owners, Guildhouse Rosepride, nor Croydon Council, the GLA or other agencies such as English Heritage – has yet come up with the finance nor a viable project to bring the empty properties into use, or bring the square to life on a long-term basis. When a £1million grant application was rejected last year, the latest plans were shelved.
The director of The Exchange told Inside Croydon, “We have covenants over Exchange Square and are keen to see it used well and looked after. Presently it seems a hang out for substance abusers, dog walkers who let their pets defecate everywhere and the odd yoof being cool and messing up the place.
“Relocating the market there even if temporarily would contravene the covenants. But as you might have guessed, the council has neither talked to us either nor did they invite us to the meeting.”
And having been at the meeting, the director said, “The plans look rushed and not well prepared. Just like the meeting. There was no model, no surveys completed, no confirmation what will happen.”
One resident living off Surrey Street, Sarah Wickens, together with a group of traders and neighbours are seeking help and support from others who have the long-term future of Surrey Street at heart, and they ask that they contact her initially at email@example.com.
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