City Hall has ruled that a developers’ scheme to demolish a previously thriving East Croydon pub and turn the site into (yet another) block of flats does not meet local planning regulations. But Croydon’s own planning department looks ready to cave-in to the demands of the developers.
The Greater London Authority published its report on the proposals for the site of the Glamorgan pub on Cherry Orchard Road earlier this month. The scheme for an 11-storey block of 36 flays, with a small area for a “pub” on the ground floor, had been submitted last year by Butlers Walsall Ltd and their architects Buckmaster Batcup.
Residents keen to save the Glamorgan, backed by their Labour ward councillors, had previously won ACV status – Asset of Community Value – which offers some protection from redevelopment and should effectively give local groups first refusal to purchase the property.
The GLA report says that the proposal from the building’s present owners would need to provide “justification of a loss of existing public house and new provision would be adequate to fulfil its social role”, that the site is “not suitable for tall buildings, so evidence needed to support proposed size”.
The GLA also said that the proposals needed a “character and heritage statement, a fire statement and clarifications on inclusive design needed”.
And there remains serious question marks over the amount of affordable housing to be provided by the proposed scheme.
The developers think that by proposing a limited amount of ground floor space for use as a pub, they would get round Croydon Council’s pub protection policy.
And they could be right. A council planning officer has written to the Addiscombe West councillors to say, “As the pub use would not be lost, there is no ‘in principle’ objection to its replacement with a new building containing a pub.
“However, the proposed replacement needs to be fully assessed to ensure that it would be viable and that the proposal does not result in an unviable reduction in pub floorspace or amenities.”
Plans for other closed pubs in the borough, which offered meagre, tokenistic replacement pub space, have been refused on the grounds that tiny pub could not operate as a viable business.
With The Glamorgan, the developers’ cunning plan appears to have found a huge loophole in council’s pub protection policy.
According to the planner’s letter to the councillors, “In policy terms, the pub protection policy only requires marketing to be undertaking [sic] if the pub use is proposed to be lost. As the pub is not proposed to be lost, it is not applicable for this application.
“In addition, as the pub use is proposed to be replaced as part of the proposal, there is no requirement for the landowner to bring the pub back into a fit and habitable state.”
So while the GLA ruling will pause the developers for a while, the council’s planning department’s judgement – on a policy of their own devising – could be a huge set-back for The Glamorgan and other pubs in the borough under threat of redevelopment.
“It is disappointing that planning policy doesn’t allow the council to compel the owner of The Glamorgan public house to bring it back into a fit and habitable state,” said Sean Fitzsimons, part of the council’s Labour administration which has had nearly seven years to put together a coherent policy in this area.
Fitzsimons accuses the developers of deliberately neglecting the building, allowing it to deteriorate since it closed – making it less easy for a residents group to be able to afford the repairs bill on top of the purchase price.
Fitzsimons said in an announcement to residents this week, “Reading the GLA paper, it is clear that the developers, Butler Walsall Ltd, need to provide much more information or a much improved public house proposal to meet the requirements of both the GLA and Croydon Council.”
Fitzsimons said, “As local councillors we are also concerned about the proposed height of this development. This is out of context for this part of Cross Road and Cherry Orchard Road, where the prevailing height of buildings is two storeys. As local councillors we are not opposed to tall buildings per se, but this site is too far from the town centre for a 11-storey block, as the adjoining buidings are only two-storey in height.”
The reality, of course, is that The Glamorgan is in an area alongside the railway tracks which already has several multi-storey residential tower blocks. And as Fitzsimons is fond of lecturing residents in the borough who express concern when suburban semis are demolished to make way for blocks of flats in their neighbourhoods, there is a housing crisis…
Given the recent ruling from Whitehall, which gave a green light to a 17-storey tower in Purley, where existing buildings are much more modest, Fitzsimons and his colleagues objection on height grounds looks less than robust.
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Such a shame, had some fantastic meals at The Glamorgan.
Well, I did visit the Glamorgan – once – and decided it was not my sort of place, again! For me there are at least four other pubs close by, which seem to do well, so I doubt its future. BUT that skyscraper is TOTALLY out keeping with the surrounding 2 storey properties. If you lived in one of these historic properties would you like this next door?? I very much doubt it, 10 floors towering above you?
SO if it goes through what is going to happen, quite clearly the adjoining properties will be next to go – where will it end, presumably at the Co-op?
There is a lovely historic cul-de-sac close by and that is likely to be crawled over, surely development of the meat processing facility a few yards away would be a better idea? Now THIS occupancy is now out of keeping with the area
Perhaps if this goes through we can all develop our two-storey terraced and semi-detached houses and all be speculators. It seems that this is like the Wild West with no real laws or enforcement, just who has the biggest pocket allied with who have the loudest bleat about housing needs or just see money signs and get sweaty
This is another example of how the planning building regulations and building control regulations process and laws are so flawed. It is easy to blame the Council, but the reality is that Government policy and the laws and regulations are unfit for any purpose other than to allow developers to develop.
Central Government and the GLA seems to prioritize developers plans due to the need for housing. But this is above residents needs and rights and the impacts on their property and in some cases their health and life itself.
At what stage are all our Councillors going to stand up and oppose the over development and disruption to current residents? At what stage will our MPs take the matter to Parliament and redress this imbalance?
As a point if the Council can purchase empty property and hotels (even in many cases compulsory purchase order) Why did Mr Fitzsimons not use his influence to get the Council to buy the property?
Surely it would be a better investment than Debt by Debt?
Setting aside the height and the pub worries, I am wondering if the picture of the building is showing yet another white-painted rendered cheapskate building which looks immaculate for 1 year, then, within 2 to 3 years, in our climate and with our pollution, will get a bit grubby, and within 5, badly streaked with dirt and water staining, within 10, will be filthy and depressing to look at.
Such a building exists a few hundred metres away from this site– number 1 Leslie Park Road / 98 Lower Addiscombe road. It is my 3rd worst “Croydon Architectural carbuncle”. Both of the others are also rendered buildings. That on the site of the Black Horse pub, Addiscombe, is No 1, closely followed at No 2, by an orange-and -blue coloured series of structures on London Road Broad Green.
Too many 5-year trained Architects and other building designers since the end of the 1914-18 war have failed to learn the example of the Victorian and Edwardian architects- who understood the need to have wide gutters to catch the British rain, and and wide overhanging eaves, and cornices to push the resulting water away from the walls below. It’s true for all materials, but particularly for smooth, rendered , painted surfaces,
Balconies like those shown on the image– are to often topped by copings that tilt forward, shedding water down the face of them, leaving streaks where water flows. Window cills that do not extend far enough, have curtain like streaks below them. Wall-copings that are flat or tilt the wrong way, or have little overhang are a feature of poor detailing. Why can’t beuilding designers get these asics right. Perhaps they are just not trained to – or don’t want to –understand climate and weathering.
Pristine white rendered modern buildings – whether Art Deco– or “Post modern” or modern, just fail in our climate, which is damp . This means, in towns, and on busy streets, that dirt sticks . In the country and suburbs, green algae grows. Or they need very frequent painting, that few landlords can afford, not just because it is needed every 5 years, but it requires scaffolding, which isn’t cheap.
In Coulsdon we have a smaller (4 storey) version of tyhe Glamorgan site proposal–on a stret corner too- which has similar smooth, rounded balconies. It all looked very modern, very, smooth, clean and bright for a few years. Now, 10 years on………. it’s a sad, algae covered, streaked mess.
Sadly, the designer failed to understand that water needs to be conducted to drains and gutters , not allowed to flow down the face of the building.
Setting aside the architectural design in terms of the proportions of walls, windows, and balconies , and the pub question, and the height ………….. rendered buildings should not be allowed on any main thoroughfare in London. They are instantly slum-like in appearance.