Brick by Brick abandons plans to build on ‘village green’

A resident-led campaign in Purley and Kenley was today declaring victory after Brick by Brick announced it was abandoning plans to build on their “village green”.

Wontford Road Green’s community campaign was today celebrating a victory

Brick by Brick wanted to build 17 flats, nine houses and a car park on a green open space between Wontford Road and Roffey Close.

The proposals were described as perhaps the worst yet, even by Brick by Brick’s shoddy standards.

It is thought to be only the second time that Brick by Brick – with an assumed guarantee of planning permission from its owners, Croydon Council – have been forced into abandoning development plans for one of its sites, following the dropping of a scheme to build a block of flats, likened to a Stasi prison block, on a patch of green space in Waddon.

In September, Brick by Brick proposals to build on a green space integral to the lay-out of a group of houses at Hawthorn Green, in Selsdon, were rejected by the planning committee – the first application that the council-owned developers had had refused by the council-run planning committee in five years.

Brick by Brick is the council’s wholly-owned house-builder which, since 2015, has borrowed more than £200million and benefited from secret subsidies on the value of property “acquired” from the council.

But according the council’s auditors and consultants, the company has yet to pay back a penny of the money it has borrowed, or make any interest payments or hand over any profit – leaving a £110million hole in the Town Hall coffers which played a large part in the council last month declaring itself broke.

Brick by Brick had become increasingly unpopular with residents of the borough, who resented having their green spaces and kids’ playgrounds concreted over, their public amenity spaces lost forever, and their quality of life in their neighbourhoods damaged beyond repair. Patronising, lip-service consultations with Brick by Brick rarely delivered any noticeable amendments to the developers’ plans.

Two-storey high garages and huge retaining walls made many question whether Brick by Brick’s scheme at Wontford Road even marginally viable

But just after midday today, Brick by Brick issued a statement to say that they were abandoning their plans to build on Wontford Road Green.

“Following further consultation with the local planning authority and their additional feedback on the proposals, [Brick by Brick] will be withdrawing the current application for the site at Wontford Road and Roffey Close,” they said. The local planning authority is, of course, BxB’s owners, Croydon Council.

The company statement continued: “[Brick by Brick] would like to thanks local residents for their valuable input to date. We may look to engage on possible alternative proposals in 2021.”

As one resident observed, “I wonder what the ‘further consultation’ might have been? Probably something to do with them needed even more money, perhaps?

“Of course, we are delighted at this news, though we are suspicious of their suggestion that they might return with ‘alternative proposals’ next year.

“Our position remains unchanged: the green is not there to be built on.”

Read more: Is Wontford Road Green the worst BxB housing scheme yet? 
Read more: Council accused of ‘wildlife vandalism’ to help Brick by Brick
Read more: ‘Our voice is being totally ignored’ say worried Purley residents


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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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8 Responses to Brick by Brick abandons plans to build on ‘village green’

  1. Nicholas Darsley says:

    Unfortunately, they are still ploughing ahead with their ridiculous plan to build 8 flats in the communal rear gardens of our existing block in Selsdon Road. Totally unsuitable site, severely restricted access, and all current residents are against it. Planning meeting for full planning permission on 17 December.

  2. Heather Jameson says:

    We have lost the car park in Lion Green Road, Coulsdon due to Brick by Brick. Coulsdon is already bursting at the seams after the Cane Hill development arrived. The car park was used by commuters and shoppers alike, only becoming empty due to Covid-19. Now we are getting 5 blocks of flats and possibly a handful of car park spaces for the public to use. Given the terrible reputation for not making money, all development by this company should be stopped.

  3. Look at the ludicrous section drawing accompanying this article. This project never had the financial legs to succeed let alone get out of the ground.

    Why have they spent probably close to £500,000 on taking these proposals forward only to withdraw them at the eleventh hour. Who has signed off these costs?

    Is the head of Place now going to resign or is she going to forfeit her salary for three years to allow CC to recover this unwarranted expenditure.

    Musta, answers please.

    • Building into a chalk hillside is commonplace. Nothing ludicrous about it, apart from the destruction of a small area of one of the most scarce habitats in Europe of floriferous chalk grassland. Next door to our estate on Higher Drive, just over the hill from Wontford Road, there has been a 30ft drop carved into what was the site of a bungalow for a development of flats which takes up the entire area of the site except for about 10ft of the rear, which is solid chalk. I cannot object to such infill developments because we are fortunate to live in some of the rapidly dwindling supply of housing at properly social rent, of a similar [though not so compressed] nature that was one of the first in the area. Focus your ire on the removal of the grant that made such housing possible, the upcoming change proposed to up the threshold for section 106 contributions from 10 units to 50. There are millions of households in dire and desperate need of social housing, I have absolutely no time for the nimby’s of the south of the borough, pleasant as it is.

  4. Sam Reynolds says:

    It’s the same in New Addington land grabbing tiny plots of green space, ignoring residents views, tampering environmental reports bxb is a joke but like concerns about the council it all falls on deaf ears. I’m just worried that with the amount of debt the council has these plots that were bought some for as little as £1 will be sold on to recover some money.

  5. Lewis White says:

    As a Coulsdon resident for some 18 years, I think that Heather Jameson’s comment is substantially correct in its main message about the car parking provision being smaller than really needed in a Coulsdon that is being renewed with many new homes and commercial buildings and enlarged in terms of population.

    My own take on this is that the old Lion Green Car park consisted of a tarmac “front section” used for a “short term” and “longer term” parking. This was backed by a large and very bleak area of rough surface, of cinders and road stone, which was hardly used for parking, but was beloved by fly-tippers. The area was semi-derelict in appearance, a real eyesore.

    In total, much more parking capacity was provided than was needed by a Coulsdon that was then in the doldrums, after the building of the bypass, but before the redevelopment of Cane Hill, and of the Coulsdon Town Station area (Pinewood Motors and Industrial units area) which in all have added around 1000 new houses and flats to the local area within half a mile of Lion Green.

    After the demise of the old CCURV supermarket plans in 2010-12, the new Brick by Brick, set up by the new Labour administration, came up with the idea of redeveloping about 4/5 of the Lion Green Car park area, for housing (5 well-designed blocks of flats with balconies in a landscapoed setting) , with a new tarmac car park on the North side, which (according to all figures I have seen) actually has a few more parking spaces than the old tarmac area. This has been achieved by taking in the derelict “Sovereign House ” site which was once the Cane Hill Hospital Laundry. I should add that the local Coulsdon Res. Assoc’s did a good job of negotiating the number of parking spaces “upwards” to exceed the inadequate, smaller provision, as proposed initially by B by B.

    In my view, B by B should have built 4 blocks, not 5, to preserve more land for a bigger public car park for use of the many new residents and new businesses in the “regenerating” Coulsdon.

    Accepting the very welcome facts that the replacement surfaced car park and the blocks of flats are now being built, I sincerely hope that the Council and Network Rail will now take the only remaining opportunity to create a significant amount of commuter parking nearer to Coulsdon South Station. There is one site I can think of–the remaining area of the former field once occupied by Coulsdon Area Farm’s free range chickens fronting the Brighton Road , between Lion Green Rioad and Cane Hill entrance by the Marlpit lane roundabout.

    The idea would be to build a commuter car park there.

    This would free up the new Lion Green Car park for residents over night, and shoppers and businesses by day, with restrictions to avoid all-day parking. Covid will skew the real picture for a few years, but Cousdon definitely needs anough parking for all three sectors, plus commuter parking near the stations.

    With regard to Brick by Brick, I have to say that many of the developments I have seen will give good quality accommodation in modern, well designed blocks.

    The problem is that it was too agressive, and sought to develop some sites with ill-placed blocks, getting rid of open spaces used and loved by local residents.

    No doubt, like me, the local residents had trusted and assumed that established open spaces such as housing estate greens do not need special protection, and would never end up being built on by the council or its agent, B by B.

    B by B was in my view, necessary, as the Council had to resort to setting up “arms length companies” to do the very things that Councils should be allowed to do by Government, build council houses, but aren’t.

    Sadly, as we now know, control by the Council in its Planning role, was inadequate, with all B by B proposals rubber -stamped until now. Well done Wontford Road residents, and those of Waddon who raised massive opposition to the loss of trees and the “Stasi block” beside Roman Way

  6. Ian Ross says:

    For a council declaring climate emergency and a purported desire to preserve green spaces, how on earth does BxB still get away with it?

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