Village fears as council bites into cherished conservation area

There is a growing suspicion, and some fear, among residents living in the close-knit community of Addington Village that council plans to alter the boundaries of the long-established conservation area are because of some deep ulterior motive to allow more development in their green corner of one of the most historic parts of the borough.

Croydon Council last month began a consultation on its proposals, which include significant extension of the conservation area to include Addington Palace itself and much of the surrounding parkland and golf course, something to which few, if anyone, has any objections.

But it was at a public meeting in the village hall a fortnight ago that serious questions arose about the council’s agenda for removing three parcels of land from a conservation area which has existed since 1973, and dropping the word “village” from the conservation area’s planning title.

With trust in the council’s planning department across the borough at an all-time low, the residents’ association for Addington Village has mobilised to contest many of the proposed changes ahead of the end of the consultation period on May 30.

Views of St Mary’s, Croydon’s oldest building, could be comprised if the council allowed development in what has been a conservation area

For planning purposes, conservation areas are usually considered for their overall impact, so any nibbling away at existing protected areas has to be done with caution.

Addington Village is a particularly sensitive area, as it includes the oldest public building in Croydon,  the Norman-era church of St Mary’s, which dates to 1080.

There are three areas which the council wants to withdraw from the protections of the conservation area:

a) Addington Village Road west end including police station and tail green land all the way to the closed end of Addington Village Road in front of the Addington Park.
b) Boundary Way far end covering seven 1970s four-bed homes up towards the top of this ridge. Only this part of Boundary Way is in the conservation zone.
c) Addington Village Road east end 1970s smaller houses opposite Addington Village cricket ground and then eastwards to include tail land close to rural setting of pathway that runs along the spring line of the ridge.

This includes the Kent Gate Way petrol station (hardly a prime feature for a conservation area), but also the nearby police station. Given the pressures on the Met Police’s budgets in the past decade, which has seen it selling off dozens of neighbourhood police stations, the removal of conservation area status here would green-light potential for redevelopment, allowing the Met to sell the site, and for the community to kiss goodbye to their local police station.

The council’s map of what’s in, and what’s out of the Addington Village conservation area

The other changes proposed would potentially compromise views of the Palace and Addington Park (which was previously part of the palace grounds), thereby undermining the inclusion of the Palace in the re-configured conservation area.

Charles Marriott is vice-chair of the Addington Village residents’ association, having moved to the area in the 1970s, buying his house “off-plan” in a conservation area.

“What has got the backs up of a huge majority of people in the village is that the council propose dropping the word ‘village’ in context of a revised conservation area name which has existed for many many years. Why? There appears to be no sound reason, unless there is something afoot that we as residents haven’t been told about.

“The council planning department has a poor record in allowing dubious development to take place in areas like our next door neighbours in Shirley, for example.

“There is a deep suspicion amongst residents that there is an ulterior motive behind the proposed removal of certain small areas. Removal from the conservation area will have ramifications and open up the real prospect of development that would alter the very character of the village and the green space immediately surrounding these houses.”

Marriott recalls that when buying his family home 40 years ago, the building of the houses in the conservation area as laid out by the council in 1973 was only allowed provided that they met stringent conditions, such as being designed in a style sympathetic with the new Vicarage (next to St Mary’s), and used the same brick, roof tiles and building materials to be in keeping with the overall village appearance.

Some of the well-kept 1970s houses in Addington Village are to be removed from the conservation area, while others remain

Some of the houses sit opposite the village cricket ground, where the game has been played since the 1700s.

“These properties are extremely desirable precisely because they have been meticulously maintained over the last 40 years,” Marriott told Inside Croydon.

“So it is not surprising that those of us who have lived here for that many years and invested a significant amount of time, care and money in the supposedly ‘safe’ knowledge that our properties are protected by stringent conservation regulations, that the current council should come along in 2019 and suggest that our homes are of ‘neutral’ status (not contributing nor detracting historically to the village), and that they want to remove them from the conservation boundary leaving us vulnerable to greedy developers.”

Marriott points out that while the council has “taken a view” of the homes where he lives, similar houses known as The Paddocks at the bottom of Spout Hill, which were built at the same time by the same builders in exactly the same style, will remain in the conservation area.

This seeming arbitrary decision by the council’s planning department just “adds further insult to injury”, according to Marriott. “These houses have also been designated as of ‘neutral’ status but are not being removed. So where is the consistency in this proposal?

“It is not difficult to see why there is an enormous feeling of betrayal to have a proposal that will cast those of us that live at the end of Addington Village Road aside in a whim.

The site of the old village pond, currently maintained by the police, will be freed up for development if removed from the conservation area

“It does not help protect and preserve Addington Village but rather it exposes it to the almost certain erosion of this lovely corner of Croydon.”

Residents suspect that the reason for the removal of the three relatively small areas from the conservation area is because they offer good access points to the east, west and north of the Village. All three are in cul de sacs. “It is not difficult to see why we have drawn certain conclusions as to a possible underlying motive for proposing such changes,” Marriott said.

“It just does not make sense. As residents we can only hope that the strength of feeling and objections to certain aspects of this proposal are listened to and that specific parts of the proposal that really affect the village are modified.”

Of course, it is not so long ago that the council cabinet member responsible for housing, Alison Butler, was making reassuring noises that changes in status of dozens of the borough’s parks and open spaces would make no difference to the planning protections in place to prevent unwelcome over-development. Since when, the council has managed to sell-off packets of green to its own housing company to build on.

Helen Pollard, the Conservative councillor for Addington Village, attended the consultation meeting and was alarmed at the implications of the proposed removal of conservation area status from parts of her ward.

“I think it appropriate to review the Addington Village Conservation Area and I welcome the inclusion of Addington Palace and the park,” she said.

“However, I am concerned about the removal of three areas from the Conservation Area.  There is a strong suspicion that these areas are being removed in order to allow large-scale developments in this beautiful village, and the erosion of the Green Belt. The removal of the word ‘Village’ from the name is a retrograde step.”


About insidecroydon

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
This entry was posted in Addington, Addington Residents' Association, Community associations, Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Environment, Helen Pollard, Planning, Selsdon & Ballards and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Village fears as council bites into cherished conservation area

  1. derekthrower says:

    Addington Village which must be the only place in the country where the Police Force maintain the site of the village pond. No doubt the residents decry the public sector undertaking tasks completely unrelated to their function anywhere else in the Borough. It must be why the Police Station is hardly ever open since they are out cutting the grass. When there is so much pressure to find any land for development the argument to not build here because we are privileged is very weak indeed. Further with the Petrol Station, tawdry Harvester and constant heavy road traffic the area is not quite the rural idyll which is being made out here, but don’t worry most of the residents have enough garden to hide behind.

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  2. Lewis White says:

    The proposed removal of the term “Village” from the name of the Conservation area seems very wrong, as this clearly is the historic old village of Addington, as opposed to nearby New Addington.
    Old Addington does have a distinct, compact identity associated with a village – a church, pub, the village green and cricket, and a collection of houses separated from the rest of Croydon by steep wooded slopes and open lands of Addington Place and the farmlands that still lie along the valley between Old and New Addington.

    What a shame that the village pond was filled in at some time. It would be nice to get it back.

    It seems odd that suburban 1970’s housing of no special architectural merit was included in the original conservation area, how ever beautifully maintained by the lucky residents, who clearly care about the village as well as their own gardens and homes.

    One very good thing about the wide grassed verges and landscaped areas on the South East side of the village is that they act as a pollution barrier between the residential area of the village, and the busy, polluted main road. I myself drove along this road a few weeks back, and marvelled at the abundant nature of the tree planting and the green-ness of the whole roadside area, which must be maintained by someone– I assume by the Council (other than the ex pond area ) . It would be terrible to lose this wonderful green girdle, both in terms of the effective pollution barrier, and the beauty of the grass and trees.

    Yet my intuitive feeling, having looked at the village at various times over the years, is that the whole village area and its setting needs a design review, which would indicate possible sites for appropriate new development. The petrol station might be one such place, although it must have the loveliest setting of any petrol station in London.

    It would be good to get the residents and planners together, with a body like the Town and Country Planning Association, to co-operate in such a design review.

    Sadly, UK planning is not as good as Germany on such initiatives, but a few years back, the council engaged meaningfully with Coulsdon residents in respect of the Cane Hill Redevelopment, which has turned out very well.

    UK Planning in my view needs to engage with residents in a meaningful way , but residents need to eschew nimbyism, and be prepared to be open to change, and planners need to listen.

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    • >>>
      It seems odd that suburban 1970’s housing of no special architectural merit was included in the original conservation area, how ever beautifully maintained by the lucky residents, who clearly care about the village as well as their own gardens and homes.
      <<<

      As was explained in the piece, the conservation area status was used in the 1970s to ensure that the houses were built to a particular scale and standard, using only approved materials. They may not be from the 1770s, but nor do they mar buildings from the 1080s.

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  3. Lewis White says:

    Just used the ever-useful Google Street View to do a virtual drive-through of the area, and also had a look at the council’s website and its proposals for revising and expanding the conservation area.

    It seems , with regard to the existing Conservation area, that most of the big area of 1970’s housing in Boundary Way was never included in the conservation area.. For some reason, just the land at the top end of this cul de sac was included, but this pocket of land has clearly been redeveloped for some mock-Georgian houses which to me seem of less architectural merit than the adjacent 1970’s homes in Boundary Way that are not in the conservation area. It does seem logical to me to now amend the conservation area boundary to exclude this isolated area of houses that are invisible from the rest of the conservation area.

    Streetview shows the Conservation area as a whole to be a delightful area of a very rural character, with not only the unique Church, but also a range of cottages including a row flint and stone cottages that could well have stepped out of picture post card village in the Hampshire Downs, plus the former Forge, Farmyard buildings (thankfully, rescued and converted in the fairly recent past)., plus a row of semi-detached council houses, which are dubbed “farm workers’ cottages. Quaint and straight from “The Archers”, the latter are not of any architectural merit, but a delightful example of once modern homes on big plots capable of growing vegetables to maintain a family. I can see the importance of keeping these dwellings “in” the conservation area, as proposed.

    I also 100% see the rationale behind adding the Palace and Golfd course, and the intertesting clusters of old buildings within this zone , to the Conservation area.

    The resulting new Conservation area would be half —18th Century landscape parkland, and half, — the old Village.
    A such, maybe a better name for the revised designated area would be “Addington Village and Palace Conservation Area. That would describe its unique quality. A twin. Well worthy of celebration and protection

    When it comes to the proposed omission of the petrol station and adjacent police station zone from the revised conservation area, I really think that the proposed “omission” of these areas needs to be re-thought. . While it is true that at present, the petrol station and warehouse-like police station are not of conservation architectural quality as buildings, strategically –their SITE is very, very important to the well-being of the conservation area as they are very close to the church. Thus, if these sites are redeveloped –which obviously will take place within the coming decade as the sites are big and underused) , the replacement buildings that go on these sites is will have a huge impact on the setting of the church, on the approach to the village section of Conservation area , and on the view of the proposed palace and Parkland extension to the Conservation area.

    if one looks at the proposed map of the combined existing (Village) and proposed ( Palace and Park) conservation area, the Police station and Petrol station area is also an illogical big bite out of the logical proposed Southern boundary of the revised Conservation area, which follows the main road..

    Why omit this key area of land now?. To keep this area IN the existing or revised Conservation area would certainly not preclude redeveloping it with far better buildings, which could be modern in design, but sympathetic in materials to the time-honoured materials of brick and stone that characterise the Village and the Palace and its satellite buildings and walls.

    Whilst I will be supporting the key proposed extension of the Conservation area to include Palace and Parklands, I will be asking the council to keep the better planning controls of Conservation area status, on this key area of land, to ensure that redevelopment is in full keeping with the adjacent Church and environs.

    I would urge Inside Croydon readers to look carefully at the Croydon Council planning website to look at the proposals, Full details are available at

    https://www.croydon.gov.uk/planningandregeneration/framework/conservation

    Comments seem to have to be made by completing the “representation form” available at the bottom of that web page.

    Representations must be received by the council by midnight Thursday 30 May 2019.

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