Residents in Norbury have launched a fighting fund a possible challenge through the courts to a Brick by Brick housing scheme which, they maintain, will build on land over which there is a legally binding covenant which forbids development.
Other sites proposed in the loss-making council-owned house-builders drive to concrete over the borough have been quietly dropped after painstaking research by councillors have managed to unearth legal documents which the council’s planning team and Brick by Brick had previously overlooked.
But residents on Covington Way and Crescent Way fear that Brick by Brick are determined to bulldoze through their scheme on this site, regardless of any legal niceties.
At a council meeting earlier this month, Alison Butler, the two-house-owning Labour cabinet member for housing, dismissed concerns about the loss of a much-used community green space on Covington Way… because there is a park nearby.
Norwood Grove is, in fact, on the opposite side of a busy road – less accessible for small children, therefore – and is much used by dog walkers and tends not to drain well after rain. One local resident told Inside Croydon: “We use the green on Covington Way for community events, picnics, outdoor gatherings. The park does not provide the same kind of amenity for residents.”
“Even if they do scale it back, the fact remains that this will not be a community space any more,” resident Laura Cooper told the BBC-funded local democracy reporter. “We really don’t want it to go to court we just want them to accept the restricted covenant. We are losing hope and trust quickly.”
Another neighbour, Lisa Friel, said, “If we used the park we wouldn’t know each other. Because we’ve got this space we have got to know our neighbours. It creates a community.”
Brick by Brick’s plans call for a three-storey and four-storey building on the pocket of land, to provide six two-bedroom flats and three one-bed flats, as well as spaces for five cars. Using publicly-owned land and financed with public money, on a site sold by the council for less than its true market value, the properties could be worth more than £2million once finished and sold on the private market.
According to a Tory councillor, what is being planned is “a betrayal of trust”.
“They are flagrantly ignoring this legal agreement and will deprive local residents of a green space that is regularly used for community events,” Helen Pollard said. “As well breaking the legal agreement, this is a betrayal of trust.”
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