Call for objections to scheme that threatens No1 Croydon

Councillors in Addiscombe are asking the public to lodge objections to a planning application for a tall tower block – another one – close to East Croydon Station.

Croydon icon: Councillors are concerned that views of the Seifert-designed building will be blocked

Developers Fifth State want to demolish the unprepossessing CityLink House office building and replace it with a 28-storey block of 498 “co-living units” – micro flats.

The Addiscombe West councillors have raised several objections to the scheme, including how it would adversely impact an architectural symbol of Croydon – the Richard Seifert-designed NLA Tower, also known as the No1 Croydon or the “50p bit building”.

No1 Croydon, the councillors say, “is Croydon’s most iconic building, and over the last 50 years has become one of Croydon’s most recognisable landmarks, visible from all quarters of Croydon.

“This proposed 28-storey building, at 92 metres, threatens all this, especially as it will loom over the 81metre NLA Tower. For those who use East Croydon Station, the sight of No1 Croydon coming into view announces [your] arrival in the town centre.

“The proposed building will loom over Seifert’s NLA Tower, smothering its looks and ruining one of Croydon’s key townscapes.

“This 1960s building needs protection from being surrounded by taller, blander buildings. Due to its small size, we know CityLink House is ripe for redevelopment, but we argue that any new building should be smaller and subservient to the NLA Tower.”

Too tall: how the proposed block at East Croydon would tower over the nearby No1 Croydon

The area around East Croydon Station has already seen several other very tall towers built or nearly completed.

Ten Degrees is the world’s tallest prefabs, the 44-storey dark twin towers at 101 George Street with 546 sky-high apartments. The blocks have been blamed for the cause of a wind tunnel effect that has blown out the glass awnings outside the station nearby.

On the other side of the tracks (literally) are the various Menta residential blocks of their slowly progressing Morello development along Cherry Orchard Road – though still no sign of the notorious Bridge To Nowhere linking Addiscombe to Croydon town centre ever being finished any time soon.

And just around the corner on Addiscombe Grove is Pocket Living’s Mayor London-backed little one-bed flats in another towering new block.

The Addiscombe councillors – Jerry Fitzpatrick, Patricia Hay-Justice and Sean Fitzsimons – may, therefore, have created a bit of a hole for themselves with their new-found Nimby-ism which describes a 28-storey block as being “too high”.

Fitzsimons, in particular, has been a strident critic of residents in other parts of the borough who have objected to development schemes, often rudely reminding them that there is a housing crisis (which in Croydon, it just so happens, is largely a result of the calamitous administration for which Fitzsimons, while supposedly chair of scrutiny, has been both cheerleader for and chief apologist).

Those other residents abused by Councillor Fitzsimons have usually taken the view that he is now pushing: they are not against new housing developments; they are just against bad developments.

Nimby-ism: Addiscombe West councillors (from left) Jerry Fitzpatrick, Patricia Hay-Justice and Sean Fitzsimons

If the reasonable accusations of double standards and hypocrisy against Fitzsimons are set to one side, their objections to the latest application for the CityLink site are in the main well-founded.

The development has been brought forward by a company called Fifth State, whose financial backers include the Westons, one of Britain’s wealthiest families, the owners of Selfridges, Associated British Foods and Primark.

The councillors describe the co-living units that the developers want to build as “student accommodation-style micro-flats for adults”. Ouch!

“Our fundamental objections still stand,” they wrote this week.

“Your local councillors are opposing this not because it is a housing scheme, but because the building is too tall, the 498 co-living units are too small and it will result in the loss of a key employment site, right next to East Croydon Station.”

The reservations about co-living, with boxy bedrooms where residents would share amenities such as washrooms and cooking space, in a throwback to the living style endured by residents in Victorian-era tenements, are particularly timely.

“In the age of covid-19 and pandemics,” the Addiscombe West councillors write, “do we want to provide student-style accommodation for single professionals that… is effectively a room 7 metres by 3 metres?

Site for demolition: the CityLink offices would make way for the residential tower block

“The rental markets that the developer is aiming at are people in the late 20s and early 30s, who in previous generations would have become homeowners, but can’t now due to exorbitant house prices.

“The applicant states that this is a sui-generis application, which means they don’t have to comply with the London Plan’s minimum accommodation size, but that doesn’t mean that Croydon has to accept the sizes offered.”

The objections over the loss of office space, and therefore jobs, might carry more water were it not for the fact that just over the road, at Ruskin Square, developers Stanhope and their financial backers, Schroders, have spent nearly 20 years trying to pull together enough demand for their cutting-edge modern offices but have struggled to attract enough potential commercial tenants to complete their mixed-use site next to East Croydon Station.

The councillors’ objection even refers to Croydon’s “oversupply of poor quality office blocks”, of which the CityLink building is an example.

Comments on the merits, or lack of them, of the planning application 21/02912/FUL can be lodged with the council’s planning department until Monday, November 22 by clicking on this link, or by emailing the planning department at dmcomments@croydon.gov.uk (remembering to quote the application reference number in the subject field).

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 101 George Street, Addiscombe West, East Croydon, Jerry Fitzpatrick, Menta Tower, No1 Croydon, Patricia Hay-Justice, Property, Ruskin Square, Sean Fitzsimons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Call for objections to scheme that threatens No1 Croydon

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    This is a development more suited to Oxford Street as an Air B+B or Box Hotel. Better still it would be very much welcomed in Tokyo – hmmm maybe!

    The 50p Building is iconic and does not deserve to be occluded either. But planners do need to have pity on the 498 future inhabitants subjected to unreasonable conditions and the impacts on their mental health of living in a box. Just because on paper it says there are 498 homes does not mean they fit that description or are fit for that purpose.

    The Croydon planning department needs to regain some credibility and are being given a golden opportunity to do this.

    The three Councillors would be better served by removing that Departments delegated powers until they are ethically, morally and competently capable of exercising such power in the interests of Croydon and its residents who they seem to forget they have a duty to.

    In the meantime and with respects to those Councillors I will petition against this on the grounds required plus others including population density lack of service provision along with incredibly poor taste

  2. Hazel swain says:

    residents of Croydon are sick of over development and living in a wind tunnel caused by these massive block ( empty !!) .. spread the housing needs across the country .. not just London and the South East …..Croydon looks like Blade Runner town …

  3. If the new block complemented the old, it might be acceptable. But it doesn’t. There’s no architectural merit in it. It’s cheap and nasty, and a blot on the landscape, the kind of crap the Brick by Brick would draw up and that pillock Paul Scott would approve.

  4. Lewis White says:

    Hasn’t the Council got an urban design policy for the area ? One centred on No 1 Croydon, and stating that buildings around it should be lower ?

    The architects of the much -criticised “Purley Tower” aka the Baptist Church site, designed a careful and respectful massing of buildings stepping down from the tower, along Banstead Road, to meet the lower height of the Purley Library. This was supported by the Planning department Urban designers.

    I feel really sorry for them– the architects, the developer, the Baptist Church –that while their scheme fully respected the Library as viewed from Banstead Road, meanwhile, someone in the very same Planning Department gave permission (or the Planning Cttee Councillors did) for the crass and appalling lump of a block that now is nearing completion just to the North side of the poor library. It replaced a very ugly trio of Edwardian houses, and sadly shares something of their ugliness.

    Talk about a quart crammed into a pit pot. Talk about architecturally out of scale.

    I hope that the new Mayor has a vision that will stop such outrages as that inflicted on the Libary from its new neighbour.

    As to the proposed stack of micro apartments? This has to be a race for the bottom in terms of living conditions. Slum of the future ???

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