CROYDON COMMENTARY: The unravelling of inter-connected land deals following the collapse of Brick by Brick’s failed house-building business, as exclusively revealed by Inside Croydon, could have long-term damaging consequences for Coulsdon, says local resident LEWIS WHITE (right)
I was unaware of this appalling proposed sale by the council of part of the CALAT Centre site at Coulsdon to the NHS for a dialysis centre.
The action, if it goes ahead, is a disgraceful negation of a long-held commitment. Coulsdon needs a new community centre.
It is also appallingly wasteful in terms of finding the best use for a focal, town centre site.
In pure financial terms alone, the £1million valuation seems to be far too low for such a development site in such a prime location.
The plan was to redevelop the existing community centre at Barrie Close as housing and provide the community with a new building on part of the site of the disused CALAT centre – what had long ago been the old Smitham Primary school.
The plan for the CALAT Centre building and site made good sense in terms of heritage: it is a very attractive, multi-gabled building with a distinctive cupola with weather vane. A local landmark. It was all re-roofed around 18 years ago, and is a solid, brick-built building, in basically good repair.
However, the site is surrounded by ugly tarmac playground areas, and has been languishing, waiting for renewal and a fitting new use. This is exactly what the Brick by Brick proposal was.
The idea was to keep the existing building, extending a new multi-use hall onto the adjacent playground. The many classrooms of the old school were also the classrooms for the CALAT Centre and would have provided perfect accommodation for new classes and meetings typically held in such a community centre.
In addition, there was room on the site for much-needed public car parking, plus an NHS medical centre.
The development site is at the heart of Coulsdon, and is well-served by public transport. The proposal would have added to the vitality of Coulsdon, as well as creating a fantastic modern facility for the community, with educational, health and culture aspects covered. Plus the much-needed medical centre.
Along, I suppose, with many others, I imagined that at long last the nearest local GP practice would move to the CALAT site from Chipstead Valley Road, where it has been, in a cramped terraced house similar, for at least 60 years. It has precipitous stairs, and wheelchair access round the back. The people of Coulsdon deserve much better.
A kidney dialysis centre does not have to be right in a town centre. Ullswater Crescent Industrial estate, as was originally proposed, is not a bad location. There are sites locally along the Brighton Road between Coulsdon and Purley that are available. There must be many others. They need parking for patients and staff… surely it would be cheaper to build with the necessary parking in a location that isn’t in the town centre?
Why is the power to wreck a perfectly sound proposal in so few hands? It is wrong.
As to that old chestnut of Labour councillors not caring about the south of the borough: it is unworthy of any administration to seek anything other than the best planning solutions and best projects for any area of the borough, not just its perceived “loyal voter base”. They are elected to serve the people of Croydon, which must mean all of them, irrespective of age, colour, sex or political orientation.
Coulsdon has received a lot of residential development in the last 10 or so years – Cane Hill (more than 700 new houses and flats), the Leaden Hill (ex Pinewood Motors site, a few hundred flats), the recently completed Station Approach (the Plumb Base site, more flats), the long-delayed five Brick by Brick blocks on Lion Green Road (157 flats), plus loads of three-storey blocks of nine flats dotted around the area.
It is only fair that Coulsdon gets a development at the CALAT Centre site that will give all its residents, old and new, a new community centre to replace the 1930s hall at Barrie Close.
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