Planning chair: This is why I want to concrete over Croydon

EXCLUSIVE: Inside Croydon asked Paul Scott, the Labour council’s chair of the planning committee, to confirm that he had told a public meeting “There isn’t anywhere in Croydon with detached houses where we wouldn’t allow semi-detached houses.” Scott defied party orders not to speak to this website by replying with a lengthy justification for his remarks

Did you spill me beer? A phrase Paul Scott has never been heard to mutter when running Croydon’s planning committee with a iron fist

“We have a massive housing crisis in Croydon, across London and throughout much of the south-east. In Croydon alone we have many thousands of families living in overcrowded conditions, over 2,000 families in temporary accommodation and hundreds of homeless people. The situation will only get worse if we don’t build many more homes over the coming years.

“The increasing need is demonstrated by massive growth in the number of children in the borough and the increase in the number of schools throughout Croydon to accommodate them. These youngsters will be needing homes of their own all to soon. Local residents are also living longer, further increasing the demand for homes.

“Our new local plan for Croydon recognises the need for a massive growth in homes. It identifies the need for an additional 33,000 new homes over the next 20 years. Even that will not be enough to meet the full demand that is anticipated.

“Only about a third of those homes will fit into Croydon’s town centre in towers and other high-density housing. Approximately a further third can be accommodated on what are typically known as brown field sites, replacing old factories and sharing sites with shops and businesses. The remaining third will need to be accommodated within the already developed residential suburban areas. Our public parks and community open spaces, and the green belt, remains protected from development.

“Only one desperately needed new state funded secondary school is proposed in the Green Belt, where it will join a series of private schools including the Royal Russell. Despite this the overall amount of Green Belt land in Croydon has been increased.

“So yes, many of the new homes that the local community needs over the coming years will be developed through the replacement of existing large homes with, for example, pairs of semi-detached houses or small blocks of flats. Others will be converted. This is likely to continue to happen in those areas with large houses sitting on large plots of land, in exactly the same way as it has always done. Park Hill is a very good local example of this.

“However, every planning application will be decided on its own merits of course. Family homes smaller than 130m² will be protected from loss or conversion. The impact on neighbours and parking for example will be carefully considered.

“National, London and local Croydon planning policy is all very much focused upon the presumption in favour of building the new homes that the current and future generations clearly need. It is in that context that I make my decisions on the planning committee, along with a predisposition shared by many colleagues that building the homes that local people need is the right thing to do.”

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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
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4 Responses to Planning chair: This is why I want to concrete over Croydon

  1. Yes, Cllr Scott has repeatedly said we need more homes in Croydon. In fact, I think he mentions it at every planning committee meeting. I don’t think that is the issue. I think it is the lack of consultation and the suitability of some of the proposals that are upsetting residents.

    Of ten planning applications that have been proposed or approved by the planning committee in the Riddlesdown/Kenley area in the last fifteen months, NONE have been built. If there is an urgent need for more homes why is planning permission being awarded to a developer who in the case of two of the developments puts the sites up for sale after receiving the planning permission? Both sites remain unsold and have now been on the market for at least seven months. I assume if another developer were to buy the sites they wouldn’t necessarily want to implement the previous developer’s plans so we could be looking at new planning applications. How do these delays solve the housing crisis?

  2. Lewis White says:

    Interesting points here…… maybe we need some modification nationally to the planning system to penalise the selling-on of a site with extant planning permission, maybe something like “build it when awarded permission within 3 years, or lose the permission for 6 years”. However, might this just result in more derelict sites remaining derelict for longer?

    Is there a planner or developer out there who could enlighten us on this ?

    With regard to the number of new homes needed, and to take pressure off already very densely developed Croydon, I can’t help thinking that we really need some further but sensitive expansion of towns just outside the M25, like Westerham, Oxted, Edenbridge, Redhill, Leatherhead, with new “garden suburbs” — green environments with homes, trees, open spaces like village greens, and amenities . And also proportional additions to villages, many of which are fossilised and without a shop, pub or school. Don’t swamp a village with too much development at once, but give it new life and a range of new accommodation for locals and incomers too. Some are just stuck in a limbo. Dead !

    Without the greening, it really will be just concreting over the fields, with densely packed little boxes, just like the 1920`s, which would be totally destructive of the precious open countryside.

    Renewal of suburban towns like Sutton, Caterham and suburbs like Belmont and Warlingham is ongoing, and results in many more homes being created in lieu of existing large Victorian houses on big plots. The results of this renewal have been generally attractive, with thousands of well designed new homes (typically flats in 5 storey blocks) of modern or traditional style built over the last 30 years.

    It`s important to be honest— without private sector property developers, nothing would ever have happened to renew these places on the scale achieved.

    Hopefully, a future government will allow councils too, to recommence public sector development without having to do this undercover.

  3. Charles Calvin says:

    Cllr Scott citing a pan-London ‘housing crisis’ as the reason we should all put up with the decisions and antics of Croydon’s Planning Committee under his Chairmanship should not be believed or countenanced.

    This is not an accurate picture and should not be used as the excuse for sub-standard Planning at local level and the consequential long-term harm it will cause this borough.

    I am angered that Scott believes people might believe him.

    His simplistic and repeated reference to “massive demand” and “massive growth in population” are not issues that require the direct response of our Planning Committee, or more specifically the reason to chuck away good sustainable planning practice.

    We do not look to the Chair of our Planning Committee to dispense the bitter pill nor do we need some kind of reverse Robin Hood derivative forcing through consent after consent without balanced discussion or listening to Croydon residents.

    Scott talks about 33,000 housing units and how, in his opinion, it might be distributed in 11,000 unit chunks in different parts of the borough – central, brown-field and Purley gardens. This is fag-packet socio-politics and equates to Scott giving consent to 120 housing units at every single fortnightly Croydon Council Planning Committee meeting for the next 20 years.

    Its rubbish.

    I don’t begrudge Scott his opinions but I do object to his manipulation and cohering of Planning Committee outcomes to suit his own “Wolfie Smith” world view.

    The majority of ‘intensification’ Consents that sees larger houses converted or bulldozed to make way for flats in quiet suburban streets do not get built. They do not materialise. But they do become part of growing micro-economy of developers who are land-banking and dealing in ‘consented’ sites.

    I know of sites that have exchanged hands three or four times and during this period they’ve been back to Croydon Planning to add units or increase the size (and value) of the development. During the whole, period nobody had any real intent to develop this site (despite Cllr Scott naively thinking so).

    It’s like sort of bitcoin mania and Scott is playing right into it.

    Croydon Council Planning Committee’s rejection of good planning practice and wholesale dismissal of the opinion of residents is doing little more that fueling speculation in the property market that adds to house price rises, not shortage of supply.

    When the “fuel” of private capital, mortgage credit and cash from the bank of Mum and Dad is supplemented by government subsidies and tax breaks, house prices rise.

    What Scott doesn’t understand is that building more houses on the scale he is advocating is not the answer.

    House prices won’t fall until the tide of cash flowing into the market abates, for example by tightening mortgage credit, or shrinking the pool of buy-to-let investors. This may already be starting to happen as real incomes continue to fall, the Bank of England toughens up buy-to-let mortgages, and stamp duty rises are phased in for second properties.

    Then factor in the impact of Brexit and an aging population and you’ll see the Scott was not only off message on housing he was off-message by a country-mile on schools too.

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