One of central Croydon’s few remaining Georgian buildings of note is under threat of being overshadowed by one of the latest pieces of “in-fill” overdevelopment by the council’s profit-hungry private housing company, Brick by Brick.
The council-backed developers are even accused of submitting deliberately misleading documents with the planning application, with images that appear to have missed out an entire storey of the proposed building.
Residents in Heathfield Gardens and Heathfield Road in South Croydon have been running a campaign to get the Croydon Council, as the local planning authority, to persuade Brick by Brick, the housing company which is wholly owned by Croydon Council, to review and amend a scheme which they say is “cramped and ugly”.
Locals claim that the proposals are not financially viable because of the £500,000 cost of moving an electricity sub-station close to the site.
They are also worried because the historic Boswell Cottage, a Grade II-listed building on the high road in South End, would be badly compromised by the new flats being built.
“Croydon has very few remaining Georgian buildings and it is unfortunate that Brick by Brick have so far refused to discuss alterations to their scheme,” James Sheridan, the owner of Boswell Cottage, told Inside Croydon.
“Brick by Brick is seeking to squeeze in a development of 20 homes on an adjoining site, part of the Heathfield Gardens Estate.”
Objections have been lodged on the council’s planning portal, and dozens of residents in Heathfield Gardens have signed a petition opposing the development. For all the difference that might make to the council-backed scheme.
“Block B will do considerable harm to the setting of my listed building,” Sheridan said. “Block B will be very close and one storey higher than the ridge height of Boswell Cottage, which will be towered over and affected by the three-storey section of the proposed Block B.”
Brick by Brick’s Block B will comprise seven flats and three houses, and will have 30 solar power panels on the roofs.
Sheridan says that the council’s planning application report “relies on a distorted and misleading CGI of the proposed scheme”.
Boswell Cottage is an elegant town house, believed to have been built in late 18th century, with a Georgian re-facing, as evidenced by the builders’ date engraving of 1765 on the front elevation.
“The main attraction of Boswell Cottage is the view of the original Georgian elevation from South End through the enclosed yard,” Sheridan said. “It is therefore very important that this view is not affected by a closely positioned, overbearing and inappropriate new development which harms the setting of the listed building.”
The Brick by Brick proposal is for 20 homes, none of which will have any car parking. The new build will be on the site of 16 existing garages. In a campaign leaflet, residents say, “The new residents will not be entitled to parking permits but they will still try to park on the estate and on Heathfield Road. There will be parking chaos.
“The proposed development is cramped and ugly with a density greater than normal standards.”
Campaigners say that 11 trees will be felled to make way for the new homes, “and the green spaces of Heathfield Gardens will be lost”.
But they say they feel unrepresented by their local MP: as the housing minister, Gavin Barwell seems unlikely to intervene on their behalf now to block a housing scheme, however ill-considered and badly planned it may be. In the neighbouring Croydon North constituency Steve Reed OBE, the area’s MP, has added his opposition to other Brick by Brick “in-fill” projects which he says represent unnecessary overdevelopment.
“The damage that they risk creating in this rush for development could last for decades and will affect existing and new residents,” one Heathfield Gardens local told Inside Croydon. “It will adversely affect our quality of life forever.”
They estimate that there could be high costs of clearing the site, including removing some of the invasive plant, Japanese knotweed, and to clean up the site of a former plating works. Moving an electricity substation serves the wider South End area could cost more than £500,000 alone.
The campaigners make familiar complaints about the council planners relying on misleading imagery for the scheme, and a lack of any meaningful consultation, as Brick by Brick bulldozes its way towards fulfilling the council’s house-building quota and making profits from selling off public land and property.
“There was no public consultation on the actual scheme that has been submitted. Meetings that were held were badly attended and the most recent plans were never produced,” the Heathfield campaigners say.
“Adjoining owners were not correctly consulted and there was little dialogue with Croydon Council’s development company.” Comments which are becoming a familiar theme to much of the council’s relentless drive to build through Brick by Brick.
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