‘Absolute madness’: council eyes Green Belt for 6,000 homes

Remember all those solemn assurances from Alison Butler and Paul Scott that the Labour-run council will protect the borough’s precious green spaces? Guess what…

The wide open spaces of Riddlesdown: Croydon Council is considering removing Green Belt status from part of the land here, and at sites on Gravel Hill and New Addington

Town Hall papers ahead of next Monday’s cabinet meeting show that the council is seriously considering removing Green Belt protection from three large chunks of land in the south of the borough.

There is, of course, only ever one reason for removing Green Belt status from land, and that’s to concrete over it.

Three areas are being considered:

  • Borrowdale Drive/Mitchley Hill/Rectory Park (Riddlesdown)
  • Gravel Hill (behind Monks Hill)
  • Lodge Lane, near New Addington

The council report can be found by clicking here.

It all refers to a 280-page report compiled by consultants GL Hearn (download your very own copy here), which provides the rationale behind the demands placed on the council to deliver 46,040 homes in the borough by 2039, according to the Mayor’s London Plan. Nearly 30,000 of those homes will need to be built in the next decade.

Even under the council’s Option 1 proposal, which does not include using Green Belt, there is not a part of Croydon which will not have intensification of housing in the next 20 years

The council planning department’s report refers to three options, the first two of which rely on providing around one-third of the additional housing in central Croydon, and between 5,000 and 12,000 new homes along what they call “the Purley Way transformation area”.

But that still leaves around 20,000 further homes to be built, somewhere. And that’s where Option 3, or what might be called the Nuclear Option, comes in.

This requires the destruction of Green Belt land with what they call “urban expansions” of New Addington (3,300 more homes), Sanderstead (780 homes) and Selsdon (1,500 homes).

Two of the Green Belt sites being considered by the council for housing. The Gravel Hill site is under-used farmland, while Lodge Lane abuts New Addington

According to the council planners’ report, “This option has the potential to reduce the pressure for development on many of the borough’s existing suburbs. It is also easier to provide family homes on Green Belt sites than on intensification sites in suburban areas, or through redevelopment of Central Croydon and Purley Way and more affordable housing can be provided on Green Belt sites as their existing financial value is low.

“The Green Belt sites suggested already have good access to current utilities, public transport and local services and other areas of Green Belt could be improved and have better public access in compensation for the loss of some Green Belt land with little or no public access.”

There is no pressure to develop Green Belt land coming from City Hall.

As Croydon’s planners note: “… the emerging London Plan does not encourage the loss of Green Belt land for residential development. Although the Green Belt sites are the most sustainable sites (in terms of access to services and public transport), they are not the sites which would cause the least harm to the borough’s Green Belt if they were released. As such there would be harm to the borough’s Green Belt caused by this option.

“By releasing Green Belt for residential development it may make other parts of the borough, in particular Croydon Town Centre and Purley Way, less attractive places to develop, inadvertently increasing the pressure to redevelop the suburbs.”

The Sanderstead Residents’ Association, one of the borough’s largest and most active RAs, and their neighbours at the Riddlesdown Residents’ Association, are alerting their members to the threat to the Riddlesdown site.

The Riddlesdown plot of land that is under threat of losing its Green Belt status

The council is eyeing this piece of land, it seems because, once, nearly a century ago, the then landowner had prepared to sell it off and use it for housing. But that was before the introduction of Green Belt planning provision to prevent the very sort of urban sprawl which Croydon Council is currently considering.

According to the Sanderstead Residents’ Association, “The proposal to declassify this Riddlesdown area of Green Belt is absolute madness.

“While we need new homes (as opposed to conversion to flats), this would probably increase the housing stock of the local area by around 20 per cent, which I feel will have a life-changing effect on the local Riddlesdown and Sanderstead communities.”

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, Croydon Council, Environment, Housing, Mayor of London, New Addington, Planning, Purley Way, Sanderstead, Selsdon & Ballards and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to ‘Absolute madness’: council eyes Green Belt for 6,000 homes

  1. Chris Flynn says:

    If (and it’s a big if!) the development included improved local amenities (e.g. desireable local shops, improved provision of public transport to the area, recreational spaces etc.) would nearby existing residents be supportive of their area being improved? Rather than letting a housing developer cram in houses, make it a community to live in.

  2. ellemeo says:

    Absolutely disgusting. WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH GREEN SPACES. LEAVE OUR GREEN SPACES ALONE. You will get a riot on your hands if you touch all of fields along New Addington. Mark my words there will be a lot of protesting going on we need some place for family time for walking etc. What we do not need is 3000 plus new homes we do not have the room for more people what about buses, trams how is it going to cope. There is going to be lots and lots of angry people if this goes ahead think on.

    • Duncan Neish says:

      Not sure what you mean: London’t green belt is three times the area of the city itself (which itself is 50% green space) and New Addington, in particular, is almost surrounded by green space. Some of it isn’t very accessible but that’s a different matter.

      • Who’d have thought it… this comment was submitted from a protected blog, using a hotmail account from someone called Duncan Neish. And guess what, there’s a Duncan Neish who is employed as the policy officer for the National Housing Federation, the trade body representing housing associations, the owners of around 2.5million homes around the country.
        They’d probably like to build a few more, too, on virgin Green Belt – it’s cheaper than working on brownfield sites after all.

      • ellemeo says:

        Yes New Addington does have green space but this particular area the North Downs Fields. Is the only green space close to local residents. If you build all over it, where are people suppose to walk and be in the fresh air and with nature. Other then this green space the next closest space is a 20 minute walk. Not everyone drives it is just insane that you think you have the right to take away our precious piece of green land with not a thought for the very local people and the people that use it everyday.
        What should be done with this green space in my opinion is an area should be sectioned off into a children/young people allotment so that the children/young people that already live in New Addington can enjoy the out doors more. I know there is already an allotment in New Addington but the one that is already there is primarily used by adults. Which is without a doubt great. I just feel some good vegetables patches designed with children/young people in mind would be far more beneficial then 3000 plus homes,
        this way they can learn where food comes from how it is grown etc. The rest of North Downs fields should be kept green, kept as it is so all familes can enjoy the outdoors.
        Other green spaces in New Addington are extremely hilly not idea for elderly or very young to be walking on. In local Croydon magazines there is an article that encourages us to out and make the most of our green space how are we suppose to do this if its the one thing being taken away from us its just absurd it really is.

  3. Lewis White says:

    As a local resident with a superb view over the Green Belt ( Farthing Downs and Happy Valley– now a National nature reserve,and area of chalk downland landscape as beautiful as you can possibly find anywhere in the World) and as a retired Landscape Architect whose career choice stemmed from my love of the local Surrey Green Belt landscape, I have worked out my own thoughts about Green Belt over many years. The thoughts are still changing, a little, but I have reached some key conclusions at age 65!

    Once, perhaps until age 35, I was a “must keep all of the Green Belt for ever and ever” group.

    Over the subsequent years, I have realised that we need to treasure, and actively look after the Green Belt and also create real communities –not just building “housing”– for real people of all ages and incomes to live in, and that these places should be well-connected with villages and towns and with London, by rail and bus, as well as road. New Addington was plonked down many years ago on a bleak hillside to the South of the lovely Addington Village. It provided lots of houses, and factories, but is isolated, and suffers from this. Only recently did the tram give real connection. It also lacks variety in housing type, with lots of small houses of a similar design.

    There is a need in my opinion, to identify and conserve the best Green Belt, and in safeguarding and improving the rest. Oh–and expand the Green Belt to towns in the Midlands, North, East and West, which do not have a Green Belt, but are getting bigger as aresult of mediocre development of the “little boxes on the hillside” type. Barely a tree on site or in sight, in many cases. However, in some places, there is a clear potential to create new villages, and new towns– preferably on a garden village or garden surburb or Garden City basis– to expand villages to give them a critical mass of population to support a school , shop, pub and church) and expand towns in some cases– but only after making the most of all brownfield sites inside towns, and after renewal, which in many cases means demolishing houses on big sites, and redeveloping them with more houses and flats. Reigate between the staion and Reigate Hill has many such examples of good quality renewal.

    With regard to Croydon, my considered feeling is that there are indeed some green belt sites– not necessarily listed on the current sites list–which could allow good quality development for a range of people and incomes. A recent example which has redeveloped a long -derelict site is also in the view from my house. I can testify to the fact that it is well-designed, and sits well in the landscape. It is giving good homes for thousands of new residents. Key fields have been kept, which are farmed properly by the tenant farmer who has farmed the area for decades. The landscape views from Farthing Downs and Coulsdon West are little impacted. It has “affordable housing” and 2, 3 and 4 bed “Exec homes”. It is the Cane Hill redevelopment.

    So, at age 65, I passionately believe that we must create good communities for people to live in, and also look at the quaity of every part of the Green belt and , indeed, Metropolitan Open Land.

    We must look at redeveloping commercial areas like the Purley Way, but keep industry and commerce going too. We need a range of small and large premises for businesses of all sizes and types. Above all, we must not fall into the trap of the numbers game– just filling up sites and creating bad housing by filling up land. We need Town Planning, not Town Cramming. This is not to say that dense development is bad–it is often very good, in the hands of good clients, good developers and good architects and landscape designers.

    With regard to Croydon, I am relieved and heartened by the honesty of the Planners’ statement printed above in the Inside Croydon article: “… the emerging London Plan does not encourage the loss of Green Belt land for residential development. Although the Green Belt sites are the most sustainable sites (in terms of access to services and public transport), they are not the sites which would cause the least harm to the borough’s Green Belt if they were released. As such there would be harm to the borough’s Green Belt caused by this option.

    “By releasing Green Belt for residential development it may make other parts of the borough, in particular Croydon Town Centre and Purley Way, less attractive places to develop, inadvertently increasing the pressure to redevelop the suburbs.”

    Although I take issue that all these named green belt sites (shown in the IC article) are the most sustainable in transport and access to services terms) I am really heartened by the honesty of who ever wrote these words.

    These are honest, and totally unlike the kind of “weasel words” so often trotted out by “development professionals”, which are mealy-mouthed, cynical and often untrue statements that justify for example- declassification of green belt.

    I would want to see a far better landscape appraisal, as for example, the farmland to the S W side of Gravel Hill is really unspoiled and beautiful landscape. There are other obvious sites which are as well connected, but of lower quality, such as the Addiscombe / Elmers end golf range site.

    The “Development way forward” surely must be, in order– — Croydon Town Centre– long-derelict sites like Heath Clark School … and the golf range site– Purley way area– Purley Town Centre– and the incremental renewal of areas where large properties on large plots are sensitively redeveloped …….plus, in my view, the renewal of run-down areas such as those around Handcroft Road West Croydon and certain areas other parts of Croydon, such as the Brighton Road

    Finally, looking at the map of Old Town and West Croydon, I think it would make good sense to remove the Council depots and industrial areas that lie to the North side of Wandle Park, and redevelop these as housing. It would make a new neighbourhood right next to and linked by traffic free paths into this excellent but underused park , next to tram connections, just a short walk from the High Street. Parks and Public Open Space needs to be linked with people — for the sake of the heath of the people, and viability of the Open Space.

    I hope that the further development of Croydon is subject to real public input around the various communities of the borough, and informed by proper landscape and planning appraisals, and respectful discussion between Councillors, Town Planners, and Public, not carved up by the purveyors of weasel words, who really should not be listened to.

  4. jeremyanthonygill says:

    Let’s forget about the where, lets look at the why.

    In Paul Scott’s intro there seems to be no mention of why the target has increased so much in such a short period of time to 46,000. If I am correct it has increased by 40% over the original 2018 plan. That is a staggering increase in such a short period of time for no explanation. If this one is correct, why was the last one incorrect? With no explanation who knows?

    The background documents show three estimates for population growth in the same period. At present there are 400,000 of us lucky souls in Croydon. The three estimates for the increase are 31,000, 57,000 and 83,000. So with the highest population increase that is only 1.8 people per household. At the lowest increase that is – well you can do the maths – less than one of us per new dwelling. Again lots of charts but no explanations.

    Last, there is no context. Where in the intro is the current number of dwellings? Its 158,000 (according to CroydonObservatory – whoever you are – but thanks). Funny how Paul Scott forgets to tell us. So if I am correct 48,000 new dwellings is an one-third increase over current levels. If we have a climate emergency which is the first thing we are told in the document why are we planning to expand ourselves by so much?

    As a solicitor friend of mine always reminds me “questions need to be asked”

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