One of the council’s most senior executives has given a firm undertaking that, together with the borough’s wealthiest charity, a new home will be found for the Croydon Carers Support Centre which is currently based on George Street.
Permission was granted at the last planning committee meeting of 2019 for Taj Holdings Ltd, the owners of the building at 24-26 George Street, to redevelop their property, which extends along from No20 to No28, into two one-bed flats, six two-bed flats and one three-bed home.
The redevelopment of the terrace of Victorian buildings, opposite the former Allders site, will displace at least a dozen charity groups and support agencies who have used the Carers Centre for a range of activities and their daily administration, thanks to funding from the Whitgift Foundation.
At present, the centre has an open-plan area on the ground floor which is used by a wide range of groups for meetings and activities throughout the week, while the upper floors are used as offices.
There was barely a peep of opposition to the redevelopment plans from the councillors on the planning committee at the meeting on December 19 – Labour councillor Clive Fraser described the move as “unfortunate”, though those charities effectively facing eviction from what has been their home would regard the move as closer to devastating.
“The Carers’ Support Centre would no longer be a central hub for carer services, as it was set up to be by the Whitgift Foundation and Croydon Council,” was the view of the centre when it launched its campaign against the development last November.
Among those charities and support groups who are based at the Carers’ Support Centre or make use of its facilities are the JAGS Foundation, the anti-knife crime group; Parents In Partnership has its offices there; it is also used by the SEND information service, the South West London Law Centre, and the National Autistic Society.
But at the planning meeting, as the committee nodded through the flats scheme, Heather Cheesbrough, Croydon’s director of planning, gave an undertaking that the council, together with the Whitgift Foundation, will find new accommodation in the town centre for the support groups.
Cheesbrough said that she had had meetings with her council counterparts, the executive directors of adult services and executive director of regeneration, and had got their agreement to find a new home for the Carers Centre.
“There’s been a significant level of interest,” Cheesbrough said, “and a great deal of concern.” She added that relocating the Carers Centre is “an accommodation issue”.
The Carers Centre is subject to nine months’ notice from its landlords, and Cheesbrough told the planning committee that the relocation process could take “upwards of a year”.
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