Patronage has allowed Croydon’s planning to get out of control

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Where he lives, there are 27 blocks of flats with planning permission within a half-mile radius, going against the London Plan. And SEBASTIAN TILLINGER knows why

Geoff James’s Carry On Regardless article about how the council is ignoring important modifications to the London Plan is all based on publicly available documents and reports.

The council’s own infill schemes are contrary to London Plan policy

There’s nothing hidden. Everyone can read this material and see what a pack of lies and half-truths this council administration has been dishing out to the residents of this borough, particularly those directly impacted by inappropriately sited over-development on the back of policy guidance SPD2 and other recently created blunt instrument planning policies.

But let’s not confuse what is being said here. Central government, City Hall and the Planning Inspectorate all say Croydon Council’s over-intensification of development in its suburbs should not be happening. It is wrong, it is not justifiable and it will cause long term damage to our streets and neighbourhoods.

But, hey, we all knew this anyway.

The corruption of a significant part of the planning process in Croydon is not the result of some local Labour Party secret plan to “redress political balance” in the borough.

It’s come about because we have a council leader who is only able to keep hold of power by buying the loyalty of councillor mates through bestowing cabinet posts and generous expenses allowances. Mobs function in a similar way.

Tony Newman couldn’t care less that Councillor Paul Scott has shifted Croydon’s Planning Policy to one of “let’s throw away the rule books and open the door to developers across the suburbs”.

Out of control: de facto planning chair Paul Scott

Throughout this, Newman only cared that Scott and others remained loyal to him.

However, I don’t think even Newman knew how “out-of-left-field” and potentially disastrous Scott’s unrelenting personal influence over Croydon planning policy would be.

Scott has completely misread the planning needs of this borough. He has misinterpreted government and London policies and set Croydon on a dangerous planning trajectory that is now out of control.

There are 27 blocks of flats sited in gardens that are being built or going through the planning process in a 0.6-mile radius of my home. No local authority in the country has this quantum of uncontrolled development. They are called “windfall sites” because they are not planned for. Transport, infrastructure, education and community needs are all largely ignored.

Scott, still the de facto chair of the planning committee, refuses to listen to the advice of government and city planning specialists who are clearly eminently better qualified than himself. He’s now gone rogue and morphed into some kind of pantomime villain at planning meetings. The Mr Blobby games at the virtual committee meeting last Thursday made it all the more obvious. The delivery and administration of planning in parts of this borough is now a farce.

Newman once gave Scott a leg-up to maintain his own grasp on power. It looks like Scott will now bring about the reverse.

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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
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