Council puts hotel and College Green up for sale for just £40m

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Two prime sites, owned by the council, are the latest public assets to be off-loaded on the cheap.

Going cheap: With planning permission for more than 400 flats at College Green, developers could make huge profits

The cash-strapped council’s fire-sale of public assets continues, with the Croydon Park Hotel and College Green site both placed on the market this week, each offered very cheap at just £20million.

Both sites offer a monument to the hubris and incompetence of Tony Newman and Jo “Negreedy” Negrini, the discredited former council leader and chief exec, and to the bumbling ineptitude of Colm Lacey, the council staffer that they put in charge of the loss-making house-builders Brick by Brick.

Both sites seem certain to be sold at well below their cost to the council, while failing to deliver any of the profits or the much-needed social housing for rent that were promised.

College Green is a 2-acre town centre site that Lacey’s Brick by Brick hummed and hurred over for four years, running up huge additional expense. After failing to secure the purchase of Croydon College’s Annex building, Lacey’s company had to reconfigure their plans and resubmit an application which the council duly waved through – a mixed-use scheme with 421 flats and including a 29-storey tower block.

Brick  by Brick’s  Colm Lacey: spent four years getting nowhere with College Green

Any potential purchaser might be tempted to snaffle up the College Green site with its existing permission, which was granted only last year and includes a requirement for only 16 per cent affordable housing, well below the usual 30 per cent. Croydon’s planning committee went easy on Brick by Brick’s second version of its plans, because they needed to sell as many full-value flats as possible to fund their massive overspend incurred on the refurb of the neighbouring Fairfield Halls.

With that kind of planning permission, a development on the site could generate more than £140million in sales for any competent development company.

Nearby, the Croydon Park, close to East Croydon Station, is the 211-bedroom hotel on an 1.54-acre site which was bought by the council in 2018 after Newman circumvented usual scrutiny processes. The council paid £29.8million – £5million more than the asking price.

For sale, slightly soiled, yours for just £20m

Even then, the hotel operators were already running up losses, and they finally went out of business 12 months ago, blaming coronavirus and the council’s refusal to offer rent easements.

Savills have been given the task of marketing both properties, and they say the hotel is “unencumbered by brand and management, and is also well suited for development into a range of uses including Build to Rent, student housing or residential”. So more flats…

Offers are likely to be sought in excess of £20m for each site, Savills say.

“These two sites represent an unparalleled opportunity in Croydon,” was the spiel offered by Andrew Cox, of Savills. He was automatically awarded Inside Croydon’s Understatement of the Week prize.

“Both sites are incredibly well connected, very close to East Croydon Station with rapid journey times into London,” Cox said.

“Both have the potential to deliver much needed affordable and private housing to the borough or a range of other uses. We anticipate strong demand to come from London developers, hoteliers, student housing providers as well as the build-to-rent and co-living operators.”

Read more: Brick by Brick has paid nothing to council
Read more: Council ignored five warnings on reserves
Read more: ‘An accountant could have foreseen this more than a year ago’
Read more: ‘One of the biggest casualties of council crisis is our trust’

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9 Responses to Council puts hotel and College Green up for sale for just £40m

  1. Ian bridge says:

    Has anyone ever explained why the hotel was bought for more than the selling price? Has anyone ever explained why the hotel was bought at all……

    • I seem to recall the idea was that the tenant paid rent which provided a higher rate of return than the Council had to pay the Government in interest for borrowing the purchase price. Achilles heel was that the tenant was running at a loss and likely to become insolvent but that didn’t seem to register with the likes of Newman. Apart from that there is no sane reason as to why the Council paid over the asking price unless there is something being hidden from us.

      • I suspect Ian was hinting at something even more nefarious by Cllrs Newman or Hall. However, Katherine Kerswell has failed to publish the Penn Report into possible wrong-doing.

    • Those who know why we paid £5m over the asking price for a hotel are hiding themselves among those who don’t want us to be allowed to choose who leads our council.

  2. Has anyone every explained in terms that make logical sense why anything the council did under the leadership of Tony Newman made any sense at all?

  3. £40million divided by the Croydon electorate is around £143 each. Instead of these assets being privatised at our expense, we should be allowed to buy them.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Yep happy to invest £150- Perhaps if the Council was a Limited Company it could go into administration and we all could buy it out of Administration debt free or just let it fold and set up a new Council. Ha – delivering true democracy from the Mike Ashley playbook!

    • Anthony Miller says:

      We already bought them. The problem is an existential one. The Council doesn’t know what to do with them. Personally I think Newman should be made to do community service as a hotel manager until he’s managed to repay the £5 million. Ms Butler could be his Sibil and Mr Hall could be Manuel….

      So basically the repairs to Fairfield Hall were to be paid for by flogging the car park. Leaving a 3000 capacity venue(if concert hall, arnhem gallery and theatre are all in use) with only 100 parking spaces. What could possibly go wrong? Surely it won’t be long before the large theatre is also pulled down for LagerPark 2.

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    It is that overused, laughable and deceitful use of that adjective that really sticks out.
    Seriously show me one lender willing to give any single person on the minimum wage a loan of £150,000. or any agent willing to reduce rental for a studio to £400 a month. No the only reason it’s affordable is that the Council overpaid and are footing the bill for its knock down fire sale price.

    Hmmm it appears that the price of success and the price of failure is the same. Crime Never pays? Really? But incompetence and misrepresentation apparently does.

    Just an observation but I finally found the difference between Newman and Mike Fisher and its oh roughly £300 million of idiocy. Newman has it by a nose via the wonderful ability to just ignore the Labour Scrutiny process under the strong leader style- you know the one where the CLP claimed this is what they would prefer going forward – I bet they do!

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