Our neighbourhoods are under attack. It’s time to fight back

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Aggressively acquisitive developers, operating mainly across the suburban southern parts of the borough, allied to a council planning department that seems to wave through most of their schemes for blocks of flats, is causing great distress for existing residents.
But as BRIAN WATSON, right, says, some have decided that they have put up with enough

If I stand at the end of my road in Purley, I can see 11 proposed and approved blocks of flats for development all within 300 or 400 yards. The most recently approved scheme is just the width of Higher Drive away.

We are having to put up with builders’ trucks blocking the road. Diversions are put in place, closing the road while mains power, sewers and water are put in place. Mud and chalk are smeared all over the carriageway.

Once on Higher Drive, the cars were allowed to park two wheels on the kerb, that kept the carriageway running relatively freely, but that luxury has been removed, rescinded by Croydon Council. We have been told that it is now a fineable offence to park two wheels on the kerb along the length of Higher Drive. Many residents are ignoring the new regulation. The result is chaotic!

Once all these flats are occupied, we’ll never be able to drive down Higher Drive, it will be congested constantly. At least, we are told, that the council is encouraging the use of bicycles for us, living on top of our steep hill (the clue’s in the name: Higher Drive).

We in the south of the borough find our letterboxes clattering to the sound of developers’ mailshots, to the point where it is verging on harassment. Indeed, we are aware that residents have been threatened by a developer over whether or not they object to their latest scheme for another block of flats.

The five-storey block of flats approved to replace three two-storey family houses on Higher Drive. The planning chair assured residents that they ‘would get  used to it in time’

“Don’t’ put up too much opposition to my proposals, or I’ll just put up a load of affordable housing on Highland Road, and nobody’s going to like that,” they were told.

My local residents’ association, the Foxley Residents’ Association, has decided to move to another tactic.

We’ve decided to persuade locals not to sell their homes to developers. Yes, it’s a long shot, but one that is definitely worth a try.

We’ve produced a flyer to go through the letterboxes of all those residents who have received appeals from developers to sell their homes. We hope that other RAs might want to distribute a similar message, too.

Our leaflet says, “Do you want to do business with the sort of people who threaten your neighbours? They’ll probably not think twice about stitching you up. They won’t stop until they shave every last penny off the price. Then they’ll conjure up all sorts of ‘issues’, locking you into a contract that will have you over a barrel, with no escape.

“The process has been known to take months and months, often it can take years…

“Please think twice about selling to a developer. We’d like to think that you’ve enjoyed living in the pleasant leafy suburbs south of Croydon, and we hope you’ll help us stop Councillor Scott and his planning regime lining the pockets of developers.”

That a Labour council sees fit to line the pockets of property developers is mind-boggling, but not when you know the desired destiny of Councillor Paul Scott. Scott’s hatred of the suburbs of the south of the borough and those who live there is the driving force behind the upheaval which is continuing to destroy Croydon’s leafy suburbs.

Beware: Foxley RA’s leaflet asking residents not to sell their homes to developers

Even the Mayor of London has cried foul at the “new homes” figures Scott and his cohorts are working to. The Mayor’s office has found Croydon’s figures unrealistic and has dramatically reduced the requirement but to no avail. We are told that the Mayor himself does not like the idea of bulldozing family homes at the rate Croydon Council is currently forcing on the residents in the south of the borough.

But then Scott believes he knows best, far better than the office of the Mayor of London, and Scott’s puppets continue to do his bidding with eager enthusiasm.

We believe the Democratically Elected Mayor of Croydon is a great idea, and it’s gathering speed, but, will it be fast enough to stop the destruction of our environment? The rate with which our locality is being pulled down around us is terrifying.

We are all being harassed by developers’ mailshots almost every week. Our residents’ association has written to many of the developers on behalf of residents. Their responses are usually patronising or rude, as they know they have the backing of Scott & Co. One developer told me, “The south of the borough of Croydon is being totally redeveloped and we are going to help the council do this. Change is good.”

And many of the RAs are under the misapprehension that the Democratically Elected Mayor is the answer to all of our problems. I think it’s a great idea, but the timescale to get the Mayor in place is far, far too long. By the time we get the Mayor, if we get the Mayor, Scott and his cronies will have destroyed the entire area.

We, residents across Croydon, need to act now and reject offers from developers, to try to save our neighbourhoods before they are destroyed forever.

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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
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11 Responses to Our neighbourhoods are under attack. It’s time to fight back

  1. I can understand Mr Watson’s concerns. However we have a housing crisis in London. One part of the answer has to be the building of more homes, and some of them will have to be flats. I believe the Mayor of London’s targets for new housing involve higher numbers than those of Croydon Council. Many of the new homes will be in Central Croydon and/or on brownfield sites, but all parts of the borough will need to play a part.

    This is not to say I condone the actions of developers who make threats. And any new development must be well planned. There needs to be the necessary infrastructure (schools, medical facilities, transport etc) to go with it. There should also in my view be a regional policy which builds the economies of parts of the UK outside London and the South-East, so that there is less pressure on housing in the capital.

    • David, with the greatest of respect, this is absolute tosh.
      This has nothing to do with solving the “housing crisis”, and everything to do with maximising profits for greedy developers, all ably assisted by the council’s planning department and certain councillors, who long ago forgot that they are here to work for and represent the people of this borough. You might like to speculate why that is – but while there are Croydon planning officers with undeclared family relationships with directors of development firms, and councillors failing to hold them to proper scrutiny, then the ill-served public are entitled to assume the basest of motives.

    • foxleyra says:

      David, do not be fooled by the Council’s rhetoric. The London Mayors housing target is actually considerably lower than the figure being paraded by the Croydon Council The Planning Inspectors for the London Plan have reduced the 10 year target for the total number of housing units across all London Boroughs from 245,730 to 119,250. For Croydon, they have reduced the 10 year target from ~30,000 to ~21,000, and, even more dramatically, have reduced the number of these new housing units in Croydon to come from so called ‘Windfall’ developments (currently being translated in Croydon as the destruction of family houses and the construction of blocks of flats with inadequate car parking) from 15,110 to 6,410 – a reduction of 8,700!.

  2. sebastiantillinger7694 says:

    A lot of people are reading local and London planning policy and rightfully pointing out where Cllr Paul Scott has politically ‘mugged’ the residents of this borough.

    Another aspect to this, which Scott does his very best to conceal, is his deep seated hatred of Croydon’s leafy, hilly suburbs. He hates it with all the passion of a grammar school boy who’s predisposed to socialism.

    Scott hates that the suburbs have fresh air, sunlight, roomy houses, green lawns and social advantages. He wants to change it so it’s advantages are diluted or better still, destroyed.

    He naively forgets the huge suburban expansion of British cities between the wars accommodated population growth and enabled people to buy homes at low prices. What gets Scott mixed up is the notion of the suburbs and those who live in them. The latter is Scott’s real target. And is the reason he can barely contain the ecstasy that envelopes him when he has casting vote to push through yet another flatted scheme on the site of a small detached house in Kenley or Purley.

    It’s a horrible sort of inverted snobbery, condescension and hostility that’s played out by Scott at every planning meeting, punctuated by the hollow mantra; ‘London has a housing crisis we all must respond to’. The only problem being Croydon’s response is grossly disproportionate and political driven by Cllr Scott.

  3. Chris Flynn says:

    “We are having to put up with builders’ trucks blocking the road. Diversions are put in place, closing the road while mains power, sewers and water are put in place.”
    I imagine there was a similar inconvenience when your house was built.

    “Mud and chalk are smeared all over the carriageway.”
    They will wash away.

    “Once all these flats are occupied, we’ll never be able to drive down Higher Drive, it will be congested constantly.”
    Massive exaggeration.

    ” find our letterboxes clattering to the sound of developers’ mailshots, to the point where it is verging on harassment”
    … so we’re going to add our own flyer. Fight fire with fire.

    “They’ll probably not think twice about stitching you up.”
    Nice use of “probably”.

    “They won’t stop until they shave every last penny off the price.”
    That’s what businesses often do.

    As proud residents of Croydon, why are we so against anyone else joining us here?

    • “I imagine there was a similar inconvenience when your house was built.”
      You “imagine”. You don’t know.

      “Massive exaggeration.”
      It really isn’t. You just don’t have any idea, though.

      You appear not to believe that money-grubbing property speculators and developers have been using aggressive techniques to push house-owners into making sales, or to deter residents from lodging planning complaints. We’re satisfied that the many versions of the same story that we have heard are entirely frank and honest.

      This is not about providing homes. This is about developers maximising their profits.

  4. derekthrower says:

    If you haven’t noticed “developers maximising their profits” is the method of choice of Central Government to produce housing. This is the Conservative Government’s method.. Scott and the Labour Council are implementing a system handed down to them. Their practice of implementing this system is the political part being complained about here and we can all complain about their competence to practice, but they are the scapegoat for the policies of Central Government. The Conservatives of the South of the Borough cling on to a belief that by simply removing Labour influence with an Elected Conservative Mayor they will suddenly change the rules of the game. It may have some small marginal influence with powerful vested interests to the Conservatives and effective emotive appeals. Yet they are clinging onto a fantasy and just cannot accept the implications of their own Government policies which are shortly going to even deregulate planning further and give Developers even more carte blanche to act as they wish. Scapegoating does not solve fundamental problems. The deflection of blame for this fundamental problem is going on here.

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