Some of the last surviving buildings associated with Cane Hill Hospital, located in a conservation area in Coulsdon, are under threat of demolition – because a developer says that they “are not economically suited for the area”.
In this instance, the developer is one of the country’s largest housing associations, and they have given notice to existing tenants that they intend to demolish Well Cottages, which are located on a little-used road behind the Lion Green Road car park.
Optivo is a £306million-a-year turnover operation formed earlier this year from the merger of AmicusHorizon and Viridian Housing. They want to replace the elegant Victorian building, which at present could provide two family homes, with a three-storey block of nine flats covered in metal cladding.
Optivo has rejected the idea of reusing the existing building on the grounds that it would “not fulfil the number of units required for the proposal to be economically suited for the area”.
Well Cottages was built in the 1880s, and was originally part of the hospital laundry. This was based in the adjacent Well House, now known as Sovereign House, which is also scheduled for demolition. Nearby on Chipstead Valley Road are St Dunstan’s Cottages, which were built in 1884 to house married hospital staff.
Today, Well Cottages is included in the St Dunstan’s Cottages Local Area of Special Character due to the building’s historic character and association with the hospital laundry. Not that that appears to count for much with Optivo.
The planning application on the council’s website (click here) has already received nearly 100 objections to the destruction of another bit of the area’s history, to be replaced with a much less-appealling structure.
The application described the proposal as, “Demolition of existing buildings: erection of four-storey building comprising 6 x one bedroom and 3 x two bedroom flats: provision of associated parking, cycle and refuse storage and landscaping”.
Optivo have already had a council planning official file a report on the proposal. Given the council’s commitment to build more homes, seemingly at any costs, and without the building having the protection of any listed status, it seems very likely that the council will have no legal grounds on which to block the proposal.
Comments on the application must be submitted by August 15. At time of publication, there was nothing filed on the application which was obviously from any of the Coulsdon West ward’s three Tory councillors, nor from the MP, Chris Philp.
Optivo did not respond to Inside Croydon’s questions about the suitability, or lack of it, of their proposals, or why they did not opt to prepare the property for the open market and use those proceeds towards other sites more appropriate for their flats.
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