Oh, how we laughed – not – when someone in the offices of the council’s unaccountable property speculators, Brick by Brick, decided to tweet a joke yesterday.
“This week we have been mainly painting hoardings…”, they said, apparently channeling The Fast Show.
Except Brick by Brick has been anything but, well, fast. The housing company, which is supposed to be delivering 1,000 new homes around the borough, has taken nearly three years and has yet to lay a single brick.
“We’re delighted to be starting to build out our first batch of 10 or so sites from this week. Look out for info locally from our development team and contractors, and contact us if you need any other info,” they offered, as if they have shown any concern for existing residents at all so far, with schemes being granted planning permission when legally required consultations had not been properly conducted.
The private company, established by a Labour council, is certainly not building any council homes.
As Inside Croydon revealed recently, they have already admitted that they will fall well short of their own target of delivering 50 per cent quasi-affordable homes.
In fact, Brick by Brick now plans to provide only 8 per cent of homes for affordable rent. The bulk of the rest, 64 per cent of what Brick by Brick builds, will go for private sale.
All this is thanks to public loans and £250million of public land and property being made available thanks to decisions steam-rollered through by council CEO Jo Negrini and husband and wife development tag team Alison Butler and Paul Scott, the Labour council cabinet member for housing and the chair of the planning committee.
Residents of existing social housing – many of them Labour Party supporters and members – who are seeing their local green spaces surrounded by Brick by Brick’s Croydon-purple hoardings are, as you might imagine, underwhelmed at the destruction of their neighbourhood, and without even the solace that it might be providing council housing.
“Brick by Brick have started erecting a compound on the green area next to Auckland Road,” our loyal reader said.
“So much for the efforts of the estate’s residents and local people to prevent the scarring of a well-designed estate which will have relatively low housing gain. The planning application to Croydon Council by Brick by Brick was opposed on conservation grounds and its poor design by many in the community, including the Norwood Society.
“We feel very sorry for the estate residents who will overlook this in the coming years (Croydon always takes ages to build anything!). To add insult to injury the boarding is painted in Croydon corporate colours rather than something that minimises the impact.
“All very depressing.”
And not a single council home to be built.
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It’s an odd time to start as the construction industry traditionally shuts down for at least two weeks over the Christmas period.
They haven’t started construction. They’ve put up some hoardings. It could be months yet…
I think the answer to that can be determined by checking when the next election is…
Having seen the “Brick by brick” proposals to build residential blocks on the long-derelict back portion of Coulsdon’s Lion Green car park site, I must say that I was impressed by the form and quality architectural and landscape design, but unconvinced by the awkward and inconvenient-to-use cul-de-sac concept design of the retained car park. A public car park needs to have a simple access and exit, and interior circulation layout that allows traffic to flow round, and for the drivers to find parking and exit a parking spot easily, — not encounter a a frustrating layout of dead ends.
The other problem here is that there is a need to keep enough public car park spaces for the parking needs of a regenerating Coulsdon. Once we build on a large area of the existing and former car park, we can’t magic up more parking elsewhere, so real thought is needed on this.
Local residents say keep 125 spaces– Brick by Brick currently propose 100.
I hope that an agreement can be reached on capacity, and that a much better car park layout is designed.
If that means fewer blocks and fewer flats, or maybe slightly taller blocks, so be it. Or maybe the design of the new development and the car park be tweaked.
Dig a big hole and put the car park in that. You can then build far more flats on top, or create a pleasant open space. Even quite small continental towns put their main car park underground, often under the main square. Why are we so keen on wasting valuable space on open air parking, or building hugely ugly multi-storey affairs?
As a local resident I am horrified by the whole project. Are the mature trees inside the hideous purple square not protected? Don’t the existing residents have a right to light outside their windows? Why put up that hoarding before Christmas in any case?