Council-backed £800,000 flats cast a shadow over public park

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Amid the ludicrous claims that £800,000 yuppie apartments to be built on the site of former council offices at Taberner House are in any way “affordable”, LEWIS WHITE attended last week’s consultation session which also confirmed that developers have been assisted by the Labour council to make a land-grab on Queen’s Gardens

Only in architects' abstract drawings do 32-storey tower blocks cast no shadows

Architects’ abstract drawings don’t show 32-storey tower blocks casting shadow over the squeezed public park alongside

At last week’s consultation event, the landscape proposals gave me hope, with a children’s playground and their grown ups’ equivalent– a cafe pavilion–in the north-west corner, where they should get a good amount of sun all day.

The tower blocks are steel or concrete framed, and clad in an attractive brick, with high quality granite paving. Two have green roof gardens. The ground floor retail units will be substantially glazed, so that some daylight and views will come through the bottoms of each block. So far, so good.

My key concern is that there are four blocks in all, two of which trespass out well beyond the plot of Taberner House, so that they take land from the main body of the park.

They will undoubtedly cast a dark and cold shadow over a large area of the Gardens, particularly in the later lunchtime and afternoon.

Hub propose to create a gap between the blocks, so that sun will come down the gap at 1 pm for some time, so it should be better in this respect than the old Taberner House which was tall and wide.

I asked one of the Hub team where I would be able to see an accurate “sunlight shadowing drawing” so that I could see how much shadow would be cast over the gardens by the four blocks.

“Oh, sorry, we can’t display one, it’s not yet ready!” came the answer.

I went into full-on Victor Meldrew mode, and asked how on earth the public could be expected to understand the proposals if they are not shown key information?

What's the use of a public consultation if key pieces of information are withheld from the public?

Not Lewis White: What’s the use of a public consultation if key pieces of information are withheld from the public?

I asked another person the same question. “Sorry, it’s not on display, but we can show you a drawing.”

The drawing I saw was small-scale, and only gave shadow views for March and June. But what about the remaining 10 months of the year? Were the shadows going to be so extensive and all-covering that they had not dared to show how it would look in September and December? I fear so.

Consultations like this are undoubtedly helpful, and the people I met were uniformly very open, very pleasant and genuinely helpful, but if Hub could not bear to display the very drawing that is needed to show the shadow cast by their proposed blocks, for what it might show will happen to the sunbathers’ sunshine, then that is very wrong.

It just keeps the public in the dark.

Alison Butler: the Labour council cabinet member responsible for the Queen's Gardens deal with Hub

Alison Butler: the Labour council cabinet member responsible for the Queen’s Gardens deal with Hub

I was told by Hub that the plans all go online in a few days, so I hope that Inside Croydon readers will take a very good look and make up their own minds. I wonder if the plans will include that all-important, year-round shadow drawing?

There is much that is very good about the designs, both architectural and landscape, in my view, but Queen’s Gardens have a recreational value rendered much greater because of their location, the only park in central Croydon, and their green lawns, planting, and sunshine.

It will be a real shame if this is compromised. It is the sunlight that will make the gardens thrive, and lack of sunlight render the shadowed areas cold and unattractive for sitting.

There was no mention of the expected wind speeds and patterns round the blocks, but a model will be subjected to wind tunnel tests shortly, so I was told.

  • Lewis White is an experienced landscape architect who lives in the south of the borough

  • Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Environment, Housing, Planning, Queens Gardens, Taberner House and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Council-backed £800,000 flats cast a shadow over public park

  1. whitgiftavenue says:

    Thanks Lewis for this concise and well written report. Can I ask what the ‘planning use class’ of the gardens is and does it offer any hope of protection?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. veeanne2015 says:

    ‘Land-grab’ not as big as the CCURV (Croydon Council/Laing’s) plan for a 5 block square with gaps between the buildings taking up the Taberner House site and HALF the grassland area, with one block straddling the gardens just south of the central fountain, which was given planning permission by the former Conservative Council !

    English Heritage objected to the previous design for 32 storeys which was reduced to 30, but this one is 35 storeys. Have they been consulted on this, and what is their opinion on the alterations to the historic Victorian sunken gardens area, and what would be a very expensive alteration of the levels between that and the higher public open grassland ?

    Hopefully the details of the new plans will be put on the Internet soon, so that all those who were unable to attend the consultation evening can see what the current designs are, making this one more of a genuine consultation than the previous ones.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. sandilands02 says:

    Ideally the whole area should be the gardens- would instantly lift the whole area and make a grand vista for the boulevard .

    I’m sure they can build the blocks elsewhere.

    Like

  4. derekthrower says:

    An informative article about another fantasy development plan for Croydon. Whatever happened to the previous plan for the site and has the 50 storey Mental development by East Croydon Station received a silver bullet that no one has heard about? The article does appear to present a complete lack of conviction about any meaningful commencement of the development and just adds to the litany of empty propositions that have occurred for such a long time now.

    Like

  5. There really is absolutely no need for any more flats in the area. There is already an oversupply of flats, except for genuinely affordable ones, and with the likely soft implosion of the property market as Brexit bites bits out of the economy, the huge development planned around Westfield and all the current offices>homes projects there is already enough in the pipeline. A great garden would be a bold statement of the desire to make Croydon a decent place to live in rather than one totally ruined and run by visions of unlimited £££££££ everywhere.

    Like

  6. veeanne2015 says:

    Internet reference for Queen’s Gardens proposals –
    http://hubgroup.co.uk/projects/taberner-house/

    Like

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