Council must accept ‘build anything, anywhere’ is not a policy

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Fewer than a hundred protestors turned up at the Town Hall last night in support of MP Chris Philp’s planning demo. The default position of the Labour group that controls the council was to dismiss their concerns by claiming that they are all ‘Nimbys’.
Here, Purley resident JACK GRIFFIN suggests that the council’s approach ‘veers between the inappropriate, unnecessary and, sometimes, incoherent’

Council leader Tony Newman says he is ‘proud’ to be building so many homes for the private market

While it may be inferred that Chris Philp & Co are seeking “a ban on building homes in south of the borough”, it is not what’s being called for (at least, not out loud).

I received the MP’s communication through my residents’ association and he asserts that the council “should not destroy any family homes until all the brownfield sites in the borough have been used”.

I agree that it is likely – even probable – that there are more brownfield sites in other parts of the borough than the south. Yet it is a leap to claim that is seeking “a ban on building homes in south of the borough”.

I could post his communication at length, but it’s a bit turgid really, yet it does move to address an important point about how Croydon’s approach to local planning veers between the inappropriate, unnecessary and, sometimes, incoherent.

I’m not a particular fan of Philp, although those I know on the Purley BID quite rate him. But, my gawd, he is an improvement on his predecessor, “Gottaway”.

And of course, the treatment of Toni Letts is appalling. She has my sympathy, and all efforts should be made to pursue “the phantom shitter of Selhurst”.

Last nights Town Hall demo, attended by fewer than a hundred protestors

Philp’s suggestion that we “have local ‘Area Planning Committees’ where you divide Croydon up into three areas (say, north, central and south) and only councillors that area sit on its planning committee and decide for smaller applications – say less than 50 units – in that area”, isn’t entirely terrible (although I could see it promoting NIMBYism) and perhaps worthy of exploration, if only to be able to dismiss it rationally.

Build anything, anywhere, is not a policy.

Nor, as a Croydon planning officer friend who went to Reigate and Banstead told me, is Reigate’s BANAANA approach: Bugger All Not At All Not Anywhere.

Perhaps a secondary issue here is, aside from Philp’s campaigning for the south of the borough in the face of Paul Scott’s destructivism, where are Labour MPs Sarah Jones and Steve Reed in sticking up for their end of the manor?

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14 Responses to Council must accept ‘build anything, anywhere’ is not a policy

  1. Stephen Pollard says:

    I was in attendance at the Town Hall yesterday evening and I don’t know how you can report “….less than 100 protesters turned up…” In many times of attending meeting at the Town Hall I have never seen so many protesters. The public gallery was totally full and every seat in the two overflow rooms in the Mayoral chambers were also taken with some protesters standing at the back. + a number of protesters outside the Town Hall were not even allowed in to the building. I would estimate the turn out to be more than 250. As I was seated in the far back of the Mayoral chamber, it was quite difficult to even see the TV screen which was placed quite low, so I went home and watched the Webcast on my laptop as a number of others did also.
    By the time that Chris Philp’s motion was discussed much later at the meeting it would not surprise me if many others had also left by then.

    • We did not report “less than”. We reported “fewer than”, which is grammatically correct.
      And as for your implied question, “I don’t know how you can…”, it was simple. We counted them.

  2. Stephen Pollard says:

    Even if your “counter” did count “… Fewer than 100 protesters…..” there could not have been any more anyway as the gallery and Mayoral chambers were totally full and all the seats were taken . My point is that by reporting “… Fewer than 100 protesters…..” implies that not many residents of Croydon do object to the Council’s planning policy, which I believe is not correct

    • Oh, I get it. We should ignore the facts, so that we can instead report what *you think* is the case. Genius!

      We have no doubt that there’s many residents who dislike and distrust the council’s planning “policy”. It is transparently a crock of shit, as Jack Griffin’s commentary demonstrates.

      But come the day of the planned protest, fewer than a hundred bothered to turn up.

      You might want to ignore that inconvenient truth, Stephen. We will not.

  3. Adrian Dennis says:

    I do not accept that there is no space for further development in the south of Croydon, as I have seen many suitable sites. The issue is whether the sites are appropriate and avoid unnecessary harm for the residential amenity of the location, and character of the area., The situation is far worse in north Croydon, especially the north east where ‘town cramming’ has been rife for decades.

    Not only has every possible building site been exploited, and amenity spaces and parking spaces been handed over to Brick by Brick, the planning system is constantly allowing tiny units in small overdeveloped sites, and doing away with the family-sized houses we desperately need.

    There is enormous pressure for houses in multi occupation (i.e. slums) and one bedroom or even one person dwellings.

    This is where I and Scottie disagree, as I believe tiny one bedroom units are not the solution to a housing crisis but are sub-standard and occupants grow out of them as soon as they move in. Certainly no room for visitors, a partner or family, just an isolated and cramped existence to remind one of their low status in life and lack of importance, according to the Council and developers.

  4. timbartell says:

    In my experience MPs do not do anything that doesn’t benefit themselves: one family in a big house are more likely to vote Tory .

  5. Christopher Leitch says:

    What is the point of producing and publishing a Local Plan if the Committee ignore their own policies?
    The Committee is out of control and accountable to no-one, apparently.
    The performances of councillors Letts and Scott at the meeting last night beggar belief. They treat the residents of Croydon with open contempt. I urge everyone to watch the webcast when it becomes available.
    Scott accused the Conservatives of filling the public gallery with stockbrokers from the south of the borough. What utter bellendery.
    I was there among nurses, teachers, carpenters, taxi drivers and so on.
    Letts went into meltdown when her allotted three minutes to speak had ended and she was cut off. Well, what goes around comes around. I’ve seen you do exactly the same in the Planning Committee. You deserved all you got from the members of the public in the gallery.

    • Paul Kozousek says:

      • Maybe they could re-run that old tv show “The Comedians”. It’s star would no doubt be our own Councillor Scott, not in Harry Hill’s league apart from the hair style. I have just noticed his brilliant opinion on the SPD2 “It will guide the development of high quality diverse homes helping to address the housing crisis while protecting character” – this from the man who consistently pushes through developments of anything but “diverse” homes and is creating the nightmare of an overcrowded Windy City as his contribution to Croydon life. All he has done is to drop brick by brick as far as Croydon residents are concerned. Whilst on the subject, I wish he would drop Brick by Brick as well!

  6. jackgriffin1933 says:

    Adrian makes the very good point about the type of development, rather than location and number.
    A nuanced point about the housing ‘shortage’ too complex for the soundbites of the MSM and the reductionist sloganeering of both major political parties is that we lack dwellings, not accommodation – i.e. bedrooms.

    Enough bedrooms have been built for everyone that needs one. The problem arises that many of these – in the last 20 years – are configured in, often speculative, two-bedroom flats. Which are fine for couples and/ or those wanting/ needing a lodger; but hopeless for anyone with more than two children; and others with more fractured family situations (carers for parents, kids at weekends etc).

    Planners, of course, love one- and two-bedroom flats, because they are targeted on delivering dwellings or units – not appropriate accommodation matched to the needs of the people. They also achieve density, lend themselves to anti-car policies and possibly tick – when councils, unlike Croydon, insist upon the inclusion – more affordable/ community housing boxes.

    I don’t want to infer from Philp’s missive anymore than I have: yet it is eminently arguable that – aside from vernacular and ‘character’ issues – replacing a four-bedroom house with four two-bedroom flats does nothing to alleviate the housing crisis for families.

    Yes: you add three more dwellings and four more bedrooms to the stock – planners go ‘yay’, residents go ‘nay’ – yet, as above, in configurations unsuited to much of the population, or the needs of the population.

    If you saw large single-house plots being replaced (yes, even in Purley) with two or three three- and four-bedroomed houses; there might be a deal less friction with the locals – and broader needs would be better met.

    The only problem with that is, currently, such houses are likely to enter the market at £500K+ and so remain out of reach for many people.

    How you resolve that is beyond me. A change of council wouldn’t even matter for the simple political and demographic dynamic of the borough.

    A Labour authority – as now – will do nothing to improve the south of the borough, or even happily shite on it, because you could put up a pint of milk for election round here and it would get in providing it’s sporting a blue rosette.

    Similarly, a Conservative council would probably let the north, north west and north east of Croydon go hang as – likewise – a tree stump bearing a red ribbon would always carry the day.

    Where Philp might be excused pleading a special interest for the south is in terms of neighbourhood ‘character’ – especially if you accept ‘suburban’/ stockbroker Tudor as a vernacular.

    Purley is indeed relatively leafy, yet much of the Addiscombes – both Lower and Upper – say, east of Havelock Road and Park Hill Road to the south; and south of Bingham Road – share many of the same types of locale; as does most of Shirley south of a line described by Glenthorne/ Woodmere Aves. Even the Webb Estate – as up-market as it gets – has a sibling in Bishops Walk.

    I tell ye: when growing up in Lower Addiscombe I had (Ashburton) primary school friends who lived on the green in Barnfield Avenue, and it was the poshest place on earth to a Parkview Road boy.

    And not so very different to where I live now; and I’m sure the residents of Barnfield’s ward – and many like – would also rail about the LBC allowing their streets to be infilled with blocks of flats.

    Which leads me back to an earlier point: why are Jones and Reed letting Philp take the lead in addressing one of the sorest points in Croydon as a whole; let alone councillors, in thrall to their stipends, power and/ or party, in allowing Scottism free rein?

    • >>>
      replacing a four-bedroom house with four two-bedroom flats does nothing to alleviate the housing crisis for families.

      No, but it allows developers to make some nice juicy profits.

      There is a planning crisis in this borough, in that the borough's planning department too often colludes with developers, to their financial advantage, and against the interests of existing residents.

      With the connivance of the planning department ("Oh, woe are we… we're powerless to do anything…"), streets are having individual, large family houses picked off, one-by-one, by greedy developers who turn them each into no more than nine dwellings (usually "fashionable, luxuty, executive apartments") of one- or two-bedrooms. Nine is the magic number: it means the developer does not have to factor in any affordable housing whatsoever. A planning committee member, Labour councillor Mohammad Ali, has described this as a "9-9-9" emergency.

      No affordable housing means that the flats built are only available to those who can get a mortgage for £300,000-plus (Jack: you low-balled the house price by at least 20 per cent, at current market rates, I reckon).

      The council is compounding this with their Brick by Brick scheme, under which not a single council home for social rent will be built in eight years. Brick by Brick is not even managing to meet the council-set target of 50 per cent affordable housing. In 2019, if they meet their completion dates (a big "if" for BxB), 71 per cent of the homes they build will be going for private sale or rent. Of the other 29 per cent, a good proportion are for "shared ownership", which is usually far from "affordable".

      Thing is, if the council used public money and public property to build social housing, delivering for the homeless, they would reduce the pressure on people to seek accommodation in the private sector.

      And what would that do for house prices in Croydon? And the developers profits?

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