A group of residents in Kenley and Purley are getting financially “tooled up” to take on the council’s planning committee and the in-house house-builder Brick by Brick by raising money through a crowd-funder for a possible Judicial Review of a housing scheme proposed for Wontford Green.
Brick by Brick wants to build 17 flats, nine houses and a car park on what the residents regard as their village green.
The green is also recognised as an important pocket of chalk grassland, a wildlife habitat which is rapidly disappearing from south-east England under layers of developers’ concrete. Until last month, Wontford Green was flourishing with grasses, wildflowers and pollinators – until, that is, the council broke its pledges to respect the borough’s natural environment by mowing the grass in midsummer in what has been called “an act of wildlife vandalism”.
Brick by Brick is wholly-owned by Croydon Council, and they have borrowed £260million (at least) of public money from the council to fund their operations. Croydon Council, the owners of Brick by Brick, are also the local planning authority.
If the council grant planning permission at Wontford Green to Brick by Brick – and they have never failed to grant planning permission to a single BxB scheme yet – the residents are prepared to go to court to overturn the decision. This would involve lodging a Judicial Review at the High Court, costing £3,000 for preliminary legal advice and then at least £12,000 to go to court.
The planning system is such that a Judicial Review is the only option available to anyone, or group, who object to the decision of a planning committee. Developers who are denied planning permission may appeal to the planning inspectorate, and get a second or even third try to get their way. There is no such appeal avenue for objectors.
The residents are asking people to pledge donations to their legal fighting fund. If the case is won, refunded legal costs will be returned to donors or people can choose to donate it towards buying benches for the village green.
To help the locals stop this development, you can pledge a donation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The residents say that there are many reasons this development should not get the go-ahead from the council.
They highlight that, “Brick by Brick have use skewed figures to claim lower housing density levels by exaggerating the size of the plot to include land that is not part of the building site. This will create too high a level of housing density.”
They also point out that developing the Wontford Road Green would be “a serious loss of a community asset”.
“It’s a safe place where children can play close to their homes. Children walk across the green to get to school. It’s a green space serving residents in the neighbourhood who live in flats with no garden.”
There are also serious concerns about increased amounts of on-street parking which any development would bring. “Tragically there was an incident a few years ago on Roffey Close where children lost their lives in a house fire. The fire engines were impeded by the narrow access caused by cars parked on both sides of the narrow road,” a resident told Inside Croydon.
“An increase in housing density in the area will increase on-street parking and will no doubt impede emergency services from gaining access to properties.”
For more information on the campaign to Save Wontford Road Green, visit the residents’ Facebook page here.
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