Public opposition to Brick by Brick schemes is mounting in Upper Norwood, where the council’s loss-making house-builder is looking at a gaggle of small sites in the ward, mostly involving garages at the end of the gardens of existing homes on College Green.
The proposals also include a 13-storey tower sited between two existing residential blocks near Westow Park.
The sale of the council-owned land was the go-ahead by the Town Hall cabinet last June, amid a council official’s report that maintained the fantasy that the property would be sold at “market rates” (Croydon Council’s last batch of land sales to Brick by Brick was all well below true market value, including six sites each sold for just £1), and that half of the homes built would be “affordable” – a target which Brick by Brick has failed to meet with its builds so far.
The council press release issued at the time even contained a bald lie about the land sales. “As with previous sites sold to Brick by Brick, the council will get the best possible price based on valuation factors such as the planning consent and the target of making sure that affordable homes make up half of those built.”
Notably, the official council report to cabinet adopted some weasel wording to offer a get-out clause for when Brick by Brick fails to deliver on its affordable homes target: “The developments will continue to aim to deliver 50 per cent affordable housing of a high quality for the benefit of Croydon residents and will help meet the overall targets for the provision of residential properties set out in the London Plan.”
Of course, “aiming to” and actually delivering 50 per cent affordable homes are entirely different things, as Brick by Brick, after failing to register themselves as approved providers of shared ownership homes, has demonstrated.
Antagonism from existing communities who have had Brick by Brick schemes imposed upon them have seen the company’s sales office in George Street subject to a weekly picket, while hundreds of residents have joined forces in New Addington to object to schemes there.
People living around College Green in Upper Norwood fear that the demolition of a total of 48 garages to build on five plots will shatter their tight-knit community, while also threatening the children’s playground through the over-development of building a tower block between two existing residential blocks.
The proposals are understood to have created a serious dilemma for the ward councillors, Labour veteran Pat Ryan, Stephen Mann and Nina Degrads. Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood ward is a Liberal Democrat target for the next local elections, and the mounting feeling of betrayal among Labour-voting residents could end up being costly at the polls.
The planning applications for the schemes were expected to be submitted this month, and are anticipated will attract widespread objections.
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The News From Crystal Palace website has collated a selection over the past few months. “It is a difficult balance, to build new housing and keep green space, but a 13-storey building next to what is a beautiful children’s playground seems unnecessary and disruptive.”
“They build up here because the SE19 postcode commands a premium price over any CR postcodes, so they get a higher profit on the sales. Meanwhile, they invest none of the money back into Crystal Palace services and infrastructure.”
“We need to get together and stop these projects taking place. Brick by Brick is defacing the area. They can’t even build in the original style and they are not respecting the affordable or the 50 per cent council return.”
“They say they want our comments, but they do not act on them. I don’t even think they read them.”
“Just seen their proposals for our street: three-storey houses replacing the garages – that’s at the bottom of College Green and Wakefield Gardens. Fuming!”
“Are they recreating central Croydon in Upper Norwood? Unacceptable increased densities!”
“Time to rebel properly about this inappropriate infilling or it will just continue. The Council planners have no scruples.”
“None of it will be social housing or council houses. Affordable housing not affordable if you’re on minimum wage or even if you on £10+ an hour.”
“When are they going to stop this nonsense, it’s not even about affordable or necessary housing they haven’t actually created any social housing to date except about three properties in Thornton Heath. People also need green spaces and recreational spaces.”
“None of the sites they are building on are anywhere near where the cabinet and councillors live.”
“Where are all these people going to park? For their development in Bedwardine Road, people were told they can park in College Green!”
“They will be making money from selling sites in north Croydon to private developers and any affordable homes will be built in ‘less desirable’ parts of the borough where rents are cheaper. And we will be paying the price. The council says it is helping Croydon residents to afford new homes, but it is to the detriment of those already living here. It’s happening all over Croydon but we are suffering more due to rising land prices round here.”
- Shared ownership is an unaffordable joke
- A level of ineptitude which would be tolerated no where else
- Butler: We’ll let Brick by Brick build on all under-utilised spaces
- Croydon’s Brick by Brick model is well and truly broken
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