It is, even by Croydon Council standards, an extraordinarily vacuous and transparently misleading public consultation announcement.
The council says it is seeking “the public’s likes, dislikes, memories, opinions and ideas” on the Purley Way.
In the honey-dripped soothing words of the council propaganda department, it is “part of the initial stages of a new project determining how the area around the thoroughfare from Purley up to Valley Park should evolve in the coming years”.
Somehow, in a 400-word press release issued late on Friday, they just forgot to make any mention at all that the council’s plan is to build 12,000 flats along the six-lane A23 urban motorway.
The scheme is the brainchild of Paul Scott, part of the clique that controls the Labour group at the Town Hall.
The press release issued on Scott’s behalf advises of “a new [sic] online survey has launched this week” (always so much better than launching an old survey), aimed at those who live, work and visit the area to have their say on their priorities.
“As part of the early research on the Purley Way area, the council is also asking people to share stories and photographs of their time spent in the area, all of which will be incorporated to help form a picture of what its future could look and feel like,” the propaganda department says.
“This will feed into Croydon’s Local Plan Review and a dedicated Purley Way chapter, outlining how future development will help to address some of the wider challenges faced by the borough.”
Notice, five paragraphs into the devious press release, and they have managed to avoid any mention of the massive home-building project that Scott really has in mind for the area. The 12,000 flats might go a long way to address one of those “wider challenges”, the borough’s housing crisis, which Scott has contrived to make worse.
Scott, an architect by profession, revealed his cunning plan to a residents’ meeting a year ago, as exclusively reported by Inside Croydon. Outside the confines of that meeting, Scott and the council press office are a good deal less frank with the Croydon public.
It is not until close to the end of the release, in a quote attributed to Scott, that any oblique reference to housing – in the creation of what he calls “a high-quality neighbourhood” – is made.
Of course, the Purley Way has long been known as an area of light industrial estates, and of London’s first international airport, flanked by playing fields and the old Purley Way Lido, with its listed concrete diving board.
It is the industrial estates on the western side of the A23 which Scott is eyeing for his 12,000 flats. Though no mention is made in the council’s deceptive press release of the scale of what Scott has in mind, and to which the public’s recollections will be used to justify.
“This exciting project is still in its infancy, making it the right time to involve the public and let them have their say on the changes they’d like to see,” Scott, the de facto chair of the planning committee while the council cabinet member for for planning, is supposed to have said.
“Incorporating their stories, memories, likes and dislikes will help us to build on the Purley Way’s unique characteristics and create a high-quality neighbourhood that will meet the needs of both existing and new communities in this area.
“Despite the current challenges, the council remains focussed [sic] on Croydon’s future and the long-term picture for the borough. Projects like this have a key role in helping to remobilise Croydon’s economy post covid-19 and I would encourage all residents to get involved and have their say.”
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