Tears in Love Lane as developer ‘parks his tanks’ in play area

KEN LEE reports on a troubling move in the battle for a community garden in Woodside, and the challenge it represents to the promises made by council leader Tony Newman

Using a shipping container, the Mayfair-based property developers have effectively ‘parked their tanks’ in the Love Lane garden

The community in South Norwood and Woodside was left reeling this morning, after heartless property speculators carried out their threats and plonked a shipping container on the children’s play area in the Love Lane garden.

Inside Croydon reported last month on how the Love Lane community garden had been lovingly created out of a scrap of wasteland beside the tram lines, over the course of nearly five years’ hard work by neighbours and friends, transforming it into a suburban oasis of flowers pots, fruit trees, vegetable patches and kids’ climbing frames and toys.

This latest bullying gesture by the landowners, Mayfair-based Global Acquisitions Group, could prove to be a real test of the council leadership’s commitment to defending and protecting the borough’s green spaces from development.

“They’ve used a shipping container,” one local said, almost in tears at the sight. “But this is them parking their tanks on our lawns.”

Love Lane is, in part, in the ward represented by Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour-run council.

Last month Newman repeated what he called “a 100 per cent guarantee” that he would protect the play space and that the landowners would not be able to build on the land.

This morning, Newman turned up at Love Lane to see what damage had been caused to the play area and gardeners’ sheds and equipment.

Locals who were at the gardens report that Newman sought to turn the situation into some kind of photo-op – though not by using a professional, paid photographer, but by getting residents to take pictures of him beside the container.

Tony Newman this morning sought to make political capital out of a crisis in the Love Lane gardens. His previous “100% guarantee” to protect the play area is looking like empty rhetoric

The resulting virtue-signalling tweet, rather than enhancing Newman’s reputation as a man of “actions, not words”, probably only served to expose his previous promises as mere bluster and empty rhetoric.

When Newman was unable to get in contact with Paul Scott, his ward colleague and the de facto chair of the council planning committee, he left the locals to get on with matters themselves and headed off for the Town Hall.

According to locals in the gardens this morning, Newman told them, “I’m not sure if there’s anything we can do about it.”

The landowners had written to residents living near the gardens in July, giving them a deadline date of August 5 to clear a section of the land, they said because it needed to be fenced off because Transport for London needed access to it for tram network works.

TfL denied all knowledge of this when contacted.

This is what Love Lane looked like before it was transformed by local residents…

Their lies found out, the landowners then agreed not to move on to their land until after they had been able to have a meeting with Newman and Scott.

That meeting has yet to happen, but the property speculators appear intent on forcing the community off the garden which they have so lovingly created from what the developers had allowed to become a patch of toxic, derelict wasteland.

The owners do not have planning permission to build on the land, and Scott has said that, for once, he will look to block any applications to build on the land, which was previously part of playing fields.

Neighbours have obtained Asset of Community Value status for the gardens, which means that should the landowner ever wish to sell the property, they will need to give first refusal to the community group.

… and this is how Love Lane looked, at least until the landowners plonked their shipping container on the site

And that would be at the basic land value price, not the value it might have with planning permission.

This morning’s “pre-emptive strike” by the landowners appears to have done little lasting damage, with equipment and pots having mostly been moved up the green from where the shipping container has been placed.

But the area’s small stage, used for kids’ concerts and other events, has been blocked by the container and may not be retrievable.

Emma Hope-Fitch, one of the organisers of the gardens, was the guest on our latest podcast, Under The Flyover.

She explained about the hard work and community bonding that the transformation work had achieved, how what was once aa local no-go-zone for children had become a much-appreciated play space, and how she hoped that, with the help of the council and local councillors, the existential threat from the landowners might be seen off.

You can get a taster of that interview here:

To access the interview in full, please click here for more information.

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 Paul Scott, South Norwood, TfL, Tony Newman, Tramlink, Woodside and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tears in Love Lane as developer ‘parks his tanks’ in play area

  1. Ah!!! Our caring, sharing, effective, adorable council. Don’t you just venerate them? They really love their constituents and the good folk of the borough. Its enough to bring a tear ( crocodile, of course, like theirs) to one’e eye.

  2. George Wright says:

    What a massive piece of hypocrisy from the Glorious Leader! How can he be glad-handing and photo-oppping, supporting a precious small green space in Woodside at the same time as producing a Borough wide map identifying where developers can exploit small green (and public) spaces? These spaces are so small that economics will dictate that any new buildings will only be for wealthy buyers, even with the history of Croydon selling off land at peppercorn prices.

    When will Newman and his ilk stop looking at public need down the wrong of a telescope? People in cities need room to breath, to relax and to enjoy nature. We had a history of village greens and duck ponds, now we scarcely see the skyline because of tower blocks nor feel the grass under our feet because of concrete.

    A new direction isn’t easy but our elected representatives need to start putting public health in front of developers wealth and get away from vote grabbing in their wards, which ought to fool no one..

  3. Couldn’t agree more! Our Councillors need to remember that they are there to assure the health and welfare of a living community and not simply to enforce policies that are only partly driven by government demands. The discretionary leeway is enormous but Laurel and Hardy, or Don Antonio and his Consigliere (take your choice, both apt) have decided to use it simply to promote their own policies and interests and not in the interest of the community at all. Shameful.

Leave a Reply