CROYDON COMMENTARY: The Labour MP for Croydon North and the leader of the Conservative opposition on the council have both complained about over-development in the borough. As residents in Upper Norwood begin a campaign against the council’s “infill” building on green spaces between their blocks of flats, ROD DAVIES suggests that they ought to have seen this coming
Presumably, the proposed development in Auckland Rise, Upper Norwood (as reported here by Inside Croydon last week) is in line with the Croydon Local Plan which everyone had the opportunity to comment on. If people didn’t care to read it and consider its impact upon their neighbourhood, then they have no one to blame but themselves.
Had the residents read the plan, they would have recognised that the entire document and its proposals were predicated on concentrating medium- to high-density development (more than two or three floors) into a limited number of specific areas in the town. Everywhere else was protected.
To strengthen the proposal strategy, the Local Plan is structured upon “Places” arrayed around the centre. In these “Places” the overwhelming area is protected from anything more than low-density development. The protected areas composed the majority of the borough, and thus they supported it. Consultation was structured according to the “Places”. This strategic approach ensured that the areas scheduled for medium- to high-density development were always a minority and there was no chance that these affected areas could band together in opposition to the proposals.
It was in this amazingly cynical approach that the council, then under the Conservatives, set about determining the future development of the town. But you have to credit the Tories, it was a very clever strategy to secure their votes at a time when UKIP were snapping at their heels.
By the time Labour took over at the Town Hall in 2014, it was really too late to re-do the Local Plan (there is a strict deadline), but they attempted to ameliorate it.
Basically, what Croydon has got now is a Local Plan that shapes the next decade’s development direction, constructed on protecting the majority from the impact of Croydon’s need for regeneration and the acute demand for housing in London.
No doubt the Conservatives thought it was a vote-winner, and the articulate Tory areas were reasonably happy with it.
It is time for all the medium- to high-density development areas to come together to present a united front to the council. If we can’t change the development plans, then we can at least get something substantial in return.
- Rod Davies is a resident of East Croydon who has written this column in a personal capacity
- Previous commentaries by Rod Davies: Town centre high-rise towers are building up divisions
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