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.
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.”
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.
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?
“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 email@example.com (remembering to quote the application reference number in the subject field).
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