Brick by Brick is demonstrating some desperate-looking urgency over its next wave of 24 sites around the borough by announcing them during the coronavirus emergency lockdown – making it impossible for them to stage what anyone would recognise as proper public consultations over the proposals.
Which might just suit the loss-making house-builder’s purposes.
So far, since the company was formed in 2015, whenever they have submitted an application to the local planning authority (Croydon Council), Brick by Brick (who are owned by Croydon Council) have been granted permission.
Many of their first-wave of developments have encountered lengthy delays (the Pimp House at Norwood Junction, with its built-in public library, was meant to be finished in January 2018; builders have been on-site at Kingsdown Avenue since June 2018), but few have encountered much in the way of penalties from the local building standards office (run by Croydon Council).
It is therefore of grave concern to the existing residents of the sites which have been earmarked for development by Brick by Brick.
Among the architects working on this second series of what Brick by Brick describes as “challenging sites” (which most developers would describe as not fit for development) are Hayhurst, Gort Scott, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, Mary Duggan Architects, Archio, Denizen Works, RUFFarchitects and Threefold Architects.
Proposals have also been drawn up by Pitman Tozer, Stitch Architects and Mae, architects who were responsible for the first wave of buildings.
And Common Ground Architecture, Brick by Brick’s in-house practice, is claiming credit for “designing” 181 of the 374 proposed new units. Some of their work for the new sites has been described as having “all the kerb appeal of a Stasi prison block”.
A further half-dozen schemes, comprising 310 homes, are expected to be unveiled later this year, bringing the total number in this second wave of development to 684.
Brick by Brick has not yet indicated how many of the properties across the whole tranche of development will be for private sale; the company has so far failed to come close to its target of delivering 50 per cent (unaffordable) “affordable” housing. Since 2015, Brick by Brick has delivered just three purpose-built homes for social rent – what many people still regard as council homes.
New Addington is set to have a large proportion of the schemes.
Chloe Phelps is the former borough architect who has been transferred to Brick by Brick and now glories in the titles of “head of design and commercial and deputy chief executive”. She has been allowed to speak publicly and offered these words of wisdom: “While design is incredibly important to us, it also needs to be buildable, robust and financially savvy.”
Brick by Brick has been lent at least £200million by Croydon Council, who has also sold it public property at well-below market rates. So far, BxB managed to sell just eight homes… Yep. “Robust”, and “financially savvy”. Indeed.
And in a comment published last month in the trade press, an unnamed spokesperson for Brick by Brick actually claimed, “On our newer schemes it is now part of our brief to stay away from boundaries with multiple owners as much as possible. We have also invested in more thorough site investigations at an earlier stage in the process.” (Our italics)
It is an admission which will come as something of a surprise to those residents in New Addington who have been shocked by one proposed scheme at the entrance to the Hutchinson’s Bank nature reserve. Despite the site being adjacent to a Special Site of Scientific Interest and the home to at least three endangered species of butterfly, plus badgers and bats, the planning application submitted by Brick by Brick had statements which said there was no wildlife habitat on the site.
Here’s the latest tranche of Brick by Brick proposed sites:
King Henry’s Drive, New Addington
A four-storey block of 27 flats on open space between Tilford Avenue and Wolsey Academy.
Gascoigne Road, New Addington
A six-storey block of 23 flats on the corner with King Henry’s Drive.
Fairchildes Avenue, New Addington
Two parcels of land, one at Comport Green, the other on the corner of King Henry’s Drive. No detailed proposals yet released.
Corbett Close, New Addington
No detailed proposals yet released.
Windham Avenue, New Addington
Three-storey block of nine flats, and five two-storey houses, built on the site of existing garages.
Thorpe Close, New Addington
Two separate developments on garage sites behind homes.
Redstart Close, New Addington
Detailed proposals not yet released for a site that will demolish existing garages and build on green space.
Milne Park East, New Addington
So poor is Brick by Brick (and by extension, the council’s) research through the Land Registry that they have issued an appeal for information over the ownership of one of the garages off Milne Park East.
Merrow Way, New Addington
It is proposed that garages will be demolished for a three-storey block of 12 small flats.
Headley Drive, New Addington
Two blocks providing 30 flats, only two of which would be “accessible”, to be built on green space at the junction with Merrow Way which Brick by Brick describes as “not well-used with ball games prohibited”.
Dunsfold Way, New Addington
One block of seven one-bed flats and six two-bed houses in what Brick by Brick erroneously describes as a “mews”.
Castle Hill Avenue, New Addington
A three-storey block of six flats.
Arnhem Drive, New Addington
There are no full proposals yet.
Alford Green, New Addington
There are three proposals: a terrace of six two-bed houses, a three-storey block of six one-bed flats, and a four-storey block of nine flats.
Bramley Hill, Waddon
Separate sites between Bramley Hill, Dering Road and Albury Court off Tanfield Road are being considered for nearly 60 new homes in an already densely populated area which already has several purpose-built blocks of flats designed with amenity space and garages.
Duppas Hill Terrace, Waddon
Holmesdale Road, Selhurst
There are a few sites earmarked between Ely Road, Holmesdale Road, Wisbeach Road and the railway tracks. Building on garage sites and other “pockets of space”, it is expected to use three blocks for 80 flats.
Hawthorn Crescent, Selsdon
Nine three-bedroom terraced houses, built on existing green space.
Covington Way, Norbury
A green space bordering Crescent Way is to be built on for nine flats.
Atlanta Court, Thornton Heath
Garages to be demolished to make way for a four-storey block and 23 flats.
Inside Croydon is aware of other sites also being brought forward by Brick by Brick under the cover of the covid-19 emergency, and we will endeavour to report on these as soon as the opportunity presents.
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Increasing population density in Thornton Heath with the Atlanta Court development and Alison Butler’s plans to make some form of housing in Ambassador House, opposite Thornton Heath station, will likely increase ill-health, will push the limited resources in Mayday Hospital and schools and other amenities locally.
Increased population density will not help if there is another pandemic or further corona outbreaks. I guess they don’t care because they don’t live anywhere near any of these developments or have to use local resources.
Anyone would think they actually have buyers for the hideous blocks they’ve already built the amount of applications they are pushing through under the radar. I wonder how many blocks could be built on cabinet members’ back or indeed front gardens?
Any space seems up for grabs and I’m sure no wildlife will be detected.