MP tells developers they could rebuild Downsview bungalow

Croydon North MP Steve Reed has written to a firm of property developers demanding that they cease immediately all work on a new block of flats on a residential street in Upper Norwood, threatening them that they may need to rebuild a demolished bungalow, in the same manner that a listed pub in Kilburn was recently restored.

MP Steve Reed and Downsview resident Caroline Fenech at his site visit last week

Reed’s intervention is implicitly critical of the Labour-run council’s planning department for ever granting permission to demolish a 1920s-built chalet bungalow on Downsview Road, or allowing it to be replaced by a three-storey block of nine flats, despite a restrictive legal covenant on the property and out of character with the neighbourhood.

As Inside Croydon reported earlier this week, neighbours on Downsview Road, off Beulah Hill, say that the covenant ought to prevent overdevelopment of their street.

This week, Reed, the constituency MP met residents on the road and later tweeted, “Real determination to save Downsview Road SE19 from developers who are breaking a legal covenant and changing the character of this lovely neighbourhood to make profit. I’m giving residents my full support.”

And in midweek, Reed sent a letter on his parliamentary headed paper to James Overton, a director of Sevenoaks-based Hambridge Homes, in which he said, “You should not have begun development of the flats because of a restrictive covenant on the land which prevents the development of homes other than detached homes for a single household.

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Housing and to the Chief Executive of Croydon Council seeking their intervention to prevent any further development work continuing on the site while the matter of the covenant is investigated further.”

Reed’s warning letter to the Downsview Road developers. Will it scare them off?

By way of a threat, Reed raised the matter of the Carlton Tavern in Kilburn (which Reed appears to believe is in “East London”), “where a developer who demolished a pub without having all necessary consents in place was required to rebuild it at their own cost back to its full original specification.

“In light of this precedent,” Reed added, “I hope you will agree to cease all further work at 19 Downsview Road until the outstanding issues about your potential  breach of the restrictive covenant have been resolved.”

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10 Responses to MP tells developers they could rebuild Downsview bungalow

  1. Pointless posturing from the UK’s most ineffective MP.

    The project In question has Planning Consent, Reed’s letter has got the legal weight of a poppy seed and if he was engaged with his constituency he would have come out strongly against these proposals when it was going through the planning consultative stages,

    Perhaps he didn’t get involved because he didn’t want to publicly clash with his mate, Cllr Paul Scott on the Planning Committee?

    And if Reed was on the case he’d know Scott largely penned the section in the SPD that allowed these types of greedy developments – ie: Policy 2.10 of the SPD sets out that where surrounding buildings are predominantly single storey, new developments should not be effected.

    If Reed has just had an epiphany about how crap the planning rules are in Croydon, I’d suggest he’s 5 years too late.

    It’s all too chummy: Tony Newman allowed Scott to dry-hump planning policy in this borough to the point into next to useless and where was Reed when that was happening? Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact Reed also employs Tony Newman’s wife.

  2. Anna Crisp says:

    I bet the developers are really panicking now LOL. The example that MP has used to compare this development to is an absolute joke (Very Different Circumstances). If I were part of this neighborhood I would be gutted at this level of support. Is there a local election coming up???
    Covenants get quashed on a daily basis – how do you think so many new developments are popping up. Not Listed / Not Conservation – NOT A CHANCE. Save your money people and get out while you can.

  3. I took advice once which advised that, though expensive and time consuming, it is possible to take action in court to have such covenants set aside, unfortunately. Haven’t the Council themselves done this often enough?

    • Colin says:

      Surely the developers would have had legal advice and solicitors would have looked into this at purchase stage!! Seems a little too late now doesn’t it.

  4. miapawz says:

    I don’t think obergruppen furher of planning P Scott or others on the Croydon planning aka destruction of middle class neighbourhoods committee care one atom about restrictive covenants. Although we plan to put one on our house before we sell it to slow the destruction of our road before we escape the mud avalanche from bulldozers in Purley at some point.

  5. Maurice says:

    Seems like false hope, it truly is out of character with the rest of the road I feel sorry for the neighbours

    • Matt Ashton says:

      Looking at the street view on google the house demolished looked beautiful. The one the other side looks massive compared to others – maybe this group would be best placed to petition for them to bring their property in line with all others. Can’t imagine flats here but that house probably helped get plans through by being so over bearing.

  6. Lewis White says:

    The problem with Croydon Town Planning in its residential redevelopment manifestation is that it is too often not about Town Planning, but about Town CRAMMING.

    The incredible bulk of many — but not all- of the new developments is often grossly out of scale with their surroundings.

    I am certainly not against redevelopment and intensification in principle, which means demolition of smaller dwellings, and replacement by larger buildings, but there has to be a greater sensitivity about scale, outline and bulk, landscaping, and maintaining visual gaps between buildings to allow the landscape behind to be seen. Otherwise we will end up with a wall of building in every street, one continuous terrace of a three storey nature.

    It is wrong when new buildings dominate their decent neighbours. It is urban design bullying.

    In a hilly area, it might be OK to have a taller building at the bottom of a slope, where the remaining buiildings in the street higher up the hill are smaller, but it would be totally wrong to have the same bigger building further up the slope, where it will dominate everything else.

    One of the issues is the abandoning of building lines, where all buildings were set back the same distance from the street, to maintain a sense of space. New buildings are now often built well forward of the neighbouring homes.

    In some contexts, where neighbouring properties are spaced well apart, this can be visually positive, resulting in a more interesting street, avoiding a corridor effect. In others, where neighbouring homes are close by, the new building may dominate its neighbours, and rob them of direct sunlight.

    Sadly, it is very difficult to legislate in policies for preserving daylight, but there has to be a real awareness of the bulk and outline, and context..

    Modern buildings tend to be simpler and with flat or flattish roofs. When one of these is inserted into a street of buildings with gables and bays, and hipped roofs, the new arrival can just look plain wrong, unless there is a very good gap between it and next door, and that trees can be preserved in those gaps.

    This rarely happens.

    In fact, the landscape is getting squeezed out. Both in front of the blocks, and to the sides.
    And the view of the landscape behind is being blocked out by developments which extend almost from side to side of the plots they sit on.

    One building I am concerned about is the new, very large block of flats next to the elegant Listed Purley Library, facing Foxley Lane. It replaces some ugly lumpish early 20th Century buildings.

    Sadly, it seems to take bulk to the extreme. While people were all concentrating on the Purley Tower and Baptist church area redevelopment, this building seems to have snuck in under the radar. An achievement, because it is massive.

    I await its unveiling from scaffolding with some trepidation.

    • miapawz says:

      You make good points especially about scale and appropriate developments in residential areas. These are points the planning committee seem to have failed to make. Have they been on peyote for the last 7 years? Or meth? I see the developments going ahead are awful for the most part. Nobody wants 9 pokey flats! But I guess the developer makes half a mill and the council sees 9x council tax coming in. But there is impact on the community and it is for the most part negative. Parking, overuse of doctors, no space in schools, the ugly building. Why not build a better house, or 4 maisonettes, or something nice? The thing being built near Purley library is very inappropriate. Another step towards the destruction of Purley, a place I was initially so happy to move to. Now I dread each week as it seems some more destruction happens as each little bit of time passes. If we can sell our house (not to a developer) we are hoping to move to Sussex. I can’t stand it any more.

  7. Kevin Croucher says:

    Paul Scott sees it as his mission to have every family home with a garden replaced with a block of flats.

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