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
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.
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).
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 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.”
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