BARRATT HOLMES reports on a sudden climb down by one of the country’s largest housing associations
Under pressure from mounting public outrage and an MP’s petition, following reports on Inside Croydon, Optivo, the giant housing association, has today announced that it is withdrawing its planning application to demolish a pair of Victorian workers’ cottages in the centre of a Coulsdon conservation area.
Inside Croydon highlighted the plan last week, which would have seen an elderly couple forcibly moved from their home of nearly 40 years to make way for a block of nine flats in an ugly gold-clad structure which the local MP has described as better suited to Las Vegas.
Well Cottages, built in the 1880s, stand just behind where the Lion Green car park stands today. They are one of the last remaining buildings from the Cane Hill Hospital.
In a statement issued on behalf of the £306million-a-year turnover operation, Optivo said today, “We have had a considerable amount of feedback from the local community regarding Well Cottages.
“We have listened carefully to their concerns and have decided to withdraw the planning application at this time.
“Optivo is a not-for-profit housing association and we remain committed to meeting housing need with high-quality affordable homes.”
Croydon South MP Chris Philp, who is not usually noted for his radicalism, described Optivo’s decision as, “A result for people power.”
In addition to nearly 200 formal objections lodged on the council’s planning portal, Philp had collected more than 600 signatures on a petition in just 24 hours after Inside Croydon had highlighted the many short-comings of the process.
This included the housing association failing to advise its own tenants of the demolition plans for their home, and the suggestion from a planning professional and former chair of the council’s planning committee, that the council’s planning department had failed to fulfill its own legal duties with the posting of the planning notice.
Today’s announcement, of course, does not mean that Optivo might not return in six months’ time with another cunning plan for this prime piece of property. But perhaps next time around, they might actually bother to tell their own tenants first and listen to the community.
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