Croydon has been celebrating the life of Tarsem Flora this week.
Tarsem, died on September 8, aged 79, having been diagnosed in February last year with prostate cancer.
He was a leading figure in the Purley community for five decades and ran a successful architecture practice in Croydon that conducted business across the globe. He was working at Flora Associates’ Tamworth Road office right up to this summer.
Tarsem was nine years old when his Sikh family had to flee to Kenya during the violence of Partition in India. Later, he travelled to England to study architecture at Durham University, before securing a Fulbright scholarship to further his studies in the United States.
That experience left him with an internationalist outlook in life that saw him marry outside both his religion and nationality. He celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with Visuni last year.
Tarsem, who was also an accomplished sculptor, painter and gave the benefit of his experience, expertise and writing for Inside Croydon, chaired the Purley and Woodcote Residents Association (PWRA) from 1982 to 2015.
There, he created a rather more positive attitude to development than is seen from most of Croydon’s residents’ associations, who typically oppose almost any change.
Tarsem was a backer of intensification of development in central Purley, a provision of extra housing that reduced pressure on backland development elsewhere in Purley and Woodcote, to the benefit of PWRA members.
He spoke at Croydon’s planning committee in favour of the Purley tower that was passed for development on the Baptist church site at Purley Cross. Purley and Woodcote Residents Association was the only local residents association not to oppose the proposal. The approval has subsequently been called in for review by the Secretary of State after lobbying by the local MP, who is opposed to the urgently needed new housing.
Tarsem also promoted good architectural practice as a council member of The Landscape Institute, National President of the Faculty of Building and as chairman of the RIBA Croydon, where he promoted exhibitions of good local Croydon practice over three decades.
In Purley, he long made the case for his detailed proposals for tackling the inherent risks of flooding in in the area. There are hopes that his aspirations will live on in their future adoption.
Flora Associates in Tamworth Road will continue to be run by Visuni Flora and Visuni and Tarsem’s son, Amritt, who is an architecture lecturer at Chelsea College.
Tarsem’s funeral was held on Tuesday. There will be another celebration of his life and works at 5pm on Saturday at the Namdhari Sikh Gurdwara in Leicester.
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