Residents of a road of 1920s-built bungalows and cottages in Upper Norwood who fear that their cherished neighbourhood is about to be destroyed have called in their MP and hired lawyers to fight against profit-hungry property speculators, and the local council’s planning department.
Neighbours on Downsview Road, off Beulah Hill, claim that their homes are subject to a legal covenant which ought to prevent overdevelopment.
But that hasn’t stopped one rapacious developer demolishing a perfectly sound bungalow, in order to build a three-storey block of flats.
And not satisfied with that, many residents on Downsview and neighbouring streets have received leaflets on behalf of developers offering 20 per cent over the market value of their home if they sell it to them.
Croydon North MP, Steve Reed OBE, was due to visit Downsview Road over the weekend, when he will have heard angry complaints from his constituents about the developer and Croydon Council’s planning department.
“What is unbelievable,” one resident told Inside Croydon, “is the council approved this block of flats but refused a neighbour a modest kitchen extension due to it not being ‘in keeping’ with the neighbourhood.”
The residents say that almost all the homes along one side of Downsview Road are subject to a legally-binding covenant dating back to 1927, when they were being built. The covenant states that each plot of land must only have a single-occupancy household built on it.
“This was brought to the developers’ attention by our solicitors but they have chosen to continue the demolition of one of the beautiful cottages on Downsview Road,” said one member of the rapidly growing residents’ campaign group.
“They are now offering the owners of other cottages absurd sums of money so they can develop that whole side of Downsview Road into blocks of flats.
“Our solicitors and lead counsel continue to work in the background, but as you can imagine the cost of fighting developers is huge and they probably hope we will eventually run out of energy and money.
“The community on Downsview Road is a strong one and as you can see by almost the entire street having signs in their front garden we are all fighting against this.
“Adjoining streets are also getting involved by having signs and contributing where possible.”
The developers – Hambridge Homes – have now demolished No19 and are pressing ahead with their plans. If their landgrab is successful and they manage to acquire the four remaining period chalet bungalows, it could add as many as 45 more households to what has always been a quiet residential street, bringing with it all the attendant issues of over-development including parking problems and pollution.
“This area is suffering badly from multiple blocks of flats being developed on any available land, and local residents have had enough.
“If they can do this to a street that is protected by a restrictive covenant, surrounding areas don’t stand a chance.”
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