Where’s the step-free access to East Croydon? Or aesthetics?

CROYDON COMMENTARY: The buildings granted planning permission on Thursday night, between the Fairfield Halls and the railway line, are architecturally disappointing and the scheme fails to deliver on one of the requirements in the local plan, says SEBASTIAN TILLINGER

Hardly a looker: the blocks of flats at Fairfield won’t be lifting the spirits

Having sat through the planning meeting on Thursday evening to witness the Fairfield Homes development application from Brick by Brick, I was really surprised to see so few councillors represented.

I’ve just stepped out of a Microsoft Team video conference with 30 people present. So where were the rest of the elected councillors who are supposed to be on the committee?

What made the matters worse was Toni Letts and Paul Scott rambling on about what the developer should name the buildings and the introduction of a farmers market on the site, or trying to show how clever they were with patronising history lessons from the 19th century. Is this what the planning discourse in Croydon has deteriorated to?

Meanwhile, the proposals for the Fairfield Homes failed to deliver an attractive, prioritised step-free public route through the scheme! This was always supposed to be a firm requirement of the local planners, to ease the way through for pedestrians and cyclists to East Croydon Station.

The proposals should not have been brought forward until that element had been properly designed. For Chris Clark, now the committee chair, to say he’s happy that it will “be looked at going forward” is somewhat pompous and demonstrates a worrying naivety for somebody new to the job.

Remember the Bridge To Nowhere at East Croydon, a £24million publicly financed piece of infrastructure still dangling in mid-air above the Addiscombe side of the railway station, probably because someone in the planning department thought that an access agreement with private developers would “be looked at going forward”. That’s the kind of embarrassing, multi-million-pound mistake that happens when these things are not tied down properly.

But my goodness, the scheme that Clark and his committee granted consent to on Tursday night is not a looker, is it? Does anyone get it that architectural aesthetics lift the human spirit?

I’m unsure what’s happened here. The architects are competent – I put it down to lack of clear direction on behalf of the clients, who technically are Croydon Council.

It’s like Groundhog Day.

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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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