Another of Croydon’s long-established and much-loved community pubs is under threat of “redevelopment”, as builders seek new ways to get around the council’s Local Plan.
Residents in Shirley were shocked by the closure of the 150-year-old Sandrock on Upper Shirley Road. And some have been spurred into action since visiting an exhibition by developers Marshall Hurley, where they found plans for two unsightly blocks of flats in the pub’s car park.
“This would devastate our area,” one resident told Inside Croydon.
Residents’ concerns heightened when they learned that the vehicles belonging to residents of the 19 new flats are expected to access the highway not through the current entrance of the pub in Sandpits Road, but by coming in and out of the narrow cul de sac alongside called Sandrock Place.
The plans show just 16 car parking spaces, to cater for the residents of the flats and customers of the pub, which the developers claim they want to expand and re-open.
Residents are sceptical about the viability of any re-opened pub, which until recently had a large restaurant area and was a popular weekend stopping off point for walkers from Lloyd and Coombe parks, Croydon’s view point over London in the Addington Hills, and visitors to the nearby Shirley Windmill.
The Sandrock, built in 1867, has considerable history and a ghost, of a phantom preacher. At one point, a landlord installed a pulpit in the pub, which seemed to satisfy the preaching spirit, and the hauntings reduced.
The usually bustling pub was owned by Mitchell and Butlers, but was closed earlier this year after its sale to developers.
“Everyone realises that the re-opening of the pub will be a fiction, because there is no way it could be viable if customers would have to take pot luck in parking in the surrounding streets,” local David Percival said.
Opposition to the redevelopment plans has also identified that the developers intend to destroy at least 15 mature trees to facilitate the proposed flats, which Percival describes as “ugly blocks resembling a Sixties-style dystopia of design”.
Although no planning application has yet been made, there is already a petition in circulation widely signed by hundreds of residents opposed to the plans.
Croydon Council’s recently adopted Local Plan has a specific policy which is supposed to prevent the demolition or redevelopment of community pubs for profit-spinning flats. But that policy’s shortcomings have already been tested to breaking point, with developers finding ways around it, such as the Welcome Inn in Thornton Heath, where they put forward plans which would have kept open a much-reduced pub, hemmed in by their money-spinning flats.
Those proposals were refused by the council’s planning committee – against the recommendations of the council’s professional planning staff and the chair of the planning committee, Paul Scott, the architect of the flawed policy. It is expected that the Sandrock planning application will provide another test of the council’s policy.
Percival said, “If the council planners are so gullible as to allow the Sandrock scheme to go through, there is no doubt that within short order there will be an application for change of use of the pub to allow yet more flats, which are already beginning to change the area from a pleasant sylvan suburb of mixed housing types to a high-rise urban environment.”
Percival is co-ordinating the campaign to save the historic Sandrock pub, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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