Brick by Brick has caved in to “Pupil Power”, abandoning plans to build a block of flats in New Addington on an open space close to the Green Belt, after hundreds of primary-aged children wrote to the Town Hall pleading with the council to save their play area.
But Brick by Brick is widely derided for rarely taking into consideration the concerns of residents, and has well-earned its nickname of “Block by Block”: it is still, for now at least, going ahead with plans for two other blocks of flats also close to Fairchildes Primary, whose pupils sent the letters.
Brick by Brick, the council’s wholly-owned, loss-making house-builder, released a statement yesterday to confirm that it would not be building on one site on the corner of Fairchildes Avenue and Corbett Close.
“This news update is to confirm that Brick By Brick are no longer proposing to build new homes on the site outside Fairchildes Primary School on Fairchildes Avenue,” was posted on the Brick by Brick website.
“We have concluded that due to specific planning-related challenges, the site is not appropriate for new housing development at this time, and we won’t be progressing plans for this particular site.
“There remains an urgent need for high-quality affordable homes in Croydon and we continue to assess all our pipeline sites for their potential to deliver against this priority.”
The house-builders had wanted to build a four-storey block of 15 flats on what is little more than a grassy roadside verge. They have not explained what the “planning-related challenges” might be that forced them to reconsider, but around 300 letters from nine- and 10-year-olds, and the formation in the past month of the New Addington Residents’ Association made up of hundreds more angry adults might just be among those challenges.
According to one resident after the BxB announcement yesterday, “I chalk this one up as another victory for New Addington residents who made it clear that this site was not appropriate to build on. Hopefully, BxB will listen to the rest of the feedback and knock a few more on the head.
“All of us here in New Addington want to help do our bit to fight the housing crisis, but not when this risks destroying our town and turning it into a slum.”
New Addington is subject to more Brick by Brick planning proposals than any other part of Croydon in the latest tranche of projects being brought forward by the company. These include a patch of land used by schoolchildren to play on alongside King Henry’s Drive, where they want to build 23 flats in a six-storey block that is completely out of keeping with the Green Belt area.
The children’s letter-writing campaign was eagerly seized upon by the council’s opposition Conservative group, who retain some ambition of regaining council seats in New Addington in 2022. Mario Creatura, the Tories’ failed parliamentary candidate in Croydon Central in last year’s General Election, retweeted the pupils’ letters and called the Brick by Brick proposals, “senseless plans to build on precious, limited green space”.
The school released extracts of some of the letters, saying that they “are fantastic and detail why they don’t want houses to be built on our green spaces”.
One letter says, “Dear Planning Committee, We are a class called 2GO and we attend Fairchildes Primary School.
“We love our school and wanted to object to your planning objection. We use the green space to play with our friends and sometimes have picnics with our families too.
“There are already limited areas where we can do this in New Addington and if you build on the green space near our school that will mean one less place for us to be outdoors.”
Enough, you might think, to melt the heart of even Paul Scott, the concrete-loving de facto chair of the council planning committee, if there was ever any proof that Scott has a heart…
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