Old Coulsdon residents ready for back-garden developers

As BARRATT HOLMES reports, the opening moves in the battle for your back gardens have just begun

Some back-garden developments are, let’s face it, just ugly

Croydon’s Tories really know no shame. Publicly, they are keen to try to score petty political points by claiming to be opposed to over-development through building on suburban back gardens, something suggested in the Mayor of London’s London Plan, published last week.

Yet these are the very same Croydon Tories who recently tried to make a fast buck – well, hundreds of thousands of fast bucks – by applying for planning permission to build some unprepossessing flats in the back garden of the Purley house which they own as use as their local party headquarters.

It was Labour councillors on the planning committee who put the kibosh on that thoroughly bad piece of development.

But the planning committee seems certain to face a spate of further planning applications to build  on the back lots of Croydon’s existing homes.

Prompted by Mayor Khan’s report, property speculators have this week been busy slipping letters out to residents in Old Coulsdon, seeking to get two or three home-owners in neighbouring properties along Chaldon Way, close to the Green Belt of Farthing Down, to agree to sell off parts of their gardens to create a plot big enough to build on.

One resident has this week described it as a “nightmare”.

“The offer is for me to sell part of my back garden or indeed the whole property for housing development,” they said. “A rep will be calling at addresses on Saturday.

“I wonder how many of my neighbours have had this letter and how many will succumb? The last time this happened everyone stuck together with a resounding no.”

But residents may not always have that option. According to figures in the London Plan, housing density in an area like Old Coulsdon may have to be increased by nearly eight times.

Local resident Pip Toogood has written, “If the new draft London Plan is adopted, London boroughs will be expected to optimise the density of new housing by developing at densities above those of the surrounding area.

“Croydon has been set a target of 29,490 new units over the next 10 years, of which more than half will be on small sites. In areas that are not close to a town centre or transport hub, these targets will be achieved via infill building on vacant or underused sites.

“Housing density targets vary depending on the Passenger Transport Access Level (PTAL), which is calculated based on the walking time to the public transport network, such as a bus stop, combined with service frequency.

“Current targets are based on the PTAL score combined with the number of habitable rooms in a dwelling. In Old Coulsdon, they vary from 35 units per hectare (u/ha) for family houses, to 95 u/ha for small flats.

“In future, housing densities will no longer be based on the number of rooms, but simply on the number of units. For most of Old Coulsdon, the target will be 110 u/ha, rising to 240 u/ha in areas close to Coulsdon Road and the Tudor Parade shops, where there are more bus stops.

“According to the proposals: ‘Loss of existing biodiversity or green space, as a result of small housing developments, should be mitigated through measures such as the installation of green roofs, the provision of landscaping that facilitates sustainable urban drainage, or off-site provision such as new street trees in order to achieve the principle of no net loss of overall green cover. Rainwater attenuation features should be incorporated to achieve greenfield run off rates’.”

To find your PTAL score, you can enter your postcode on this onlne tool.

You can read and comment on the Local Plan by clicking here.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Old Coulsdon residents ready for back-garden developers

  1. Let’s not forget what ex-Croydon Central MP, Gavin Barwell, said when, in January 2017, he was the Minister of State for Housing and Planning and the Minister for London.
    At a speech the borough’s top Tory gave that month to the UK Housing Delivery Summit, he told guests, including the Chief Executives of developers Barratt Development, London & Quadrant and Local Partnerships, that there were parts of the country where councils were “simply not releasing enough land to meet the level of need they’ve got for housing” and the government “needs to address that”.
    That was code for back yard development, a message not wasted on his local party who promptly engaged the services of the posh firm, Granit Chartered Architects Limited, of Porteous Place, SW4. By April, just three months later, they submitted a detailed planning application to build a couple of homes in the back yard of 36, Brighton Road, the Croydon Conservatives HQ. No doubt they were emboldened by Gavin’s assertion that the government would try to ensure that “when someone comes forward and proposes building homes that are desperately needed, that proposal doesn’t meet with political resistance at a local level. That’s a role for us in national government and also local politicians”.
    He added that breaking down this resistance would rely on “design, quality and infrastructure so it’s going in upfront… and also thinking about who those homes are going to go to because if people feel like their kids will get the homes, they’re more likely to support new housing”. It’s a shame the Save Shirley mob haven’t been given that message by their cynical Conservative councillors.
    A journalist from Inside Housing, the weekly trade publication that covers the United Kingdom’s social housing sector, asked Barwell what plans there were for the green belt, following newspaper reports about Conservative ministers with largely rural constituencies opposing development on the green belt. Barmy dodged that question, saying the policy was already “broadly in the right sort of place” and added the debate over how to get homes built should not focus on the “contentious issue of the green belt – there’s far more to it than that”.

    He did however commit to tackling development snags, saying the build-out of housing was slowed down by a range of issues, including infrastructure delays, the planning system, Section 106 agreements, planning conditions and utility companies. “There is far too much time, money and energy wasted on unnecessary conflict” in the planning system, he complained, “whether that be rows about what objectively assessed need is, or the rows about whether people have a five-year land supply”; “too many” schemes were going to appeal and being referred to ministers.

    His solution was that if the system were simplified, developers and communities would know where housing can be built then that will “do a lot to speed up development”.

    When London Assembly Tories or their Croydon counterparts complain about backyard and greenbelt development being rushed through, they need to be reminded that this is what their government wants to happen.

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