Our housing correspondent, BARRATT HOLMES, on the latest laugh-out-loud move by developers working in the centre of Croydon
While this website might be loathe to echo one of the catchphrases of one of the more notorious tabloid columnists, you really couldn’t make this up.
The developers working on the flats on what used to be the council’s Taberner House office site have put in a formal planning application which reveals that they want to call one of the blocks… drum roll please…
The four-letter word beginning with F has several benign meanings, including an association with somewhere that a shepherd might keep their flock.
But the chosen name has prompted some to wonder whether it is a sidelong reference to a high-stakes game of poker, and the act of someone forced to quit a hand, or “fold”, after losing their gamble – a bit like Croydon Council’s having bet the house on Brick by Brick and lost hundreds of millions of pounds.
The choice of name has come to light, literally, because of a planning application placed with the council for permission to install some illuminated signage above the building’s entrance.
“This application seeks advertisement consent for a new projecting sign, located on the fascia panel above the main entrance to The Fold residential apartment block within the Queen’s Quarter development,” the formal application states.
“The signage is purely made up of block name and does not include a logo, it is required for the legibility of the block for tenants, visitors, and deliveries.
“The individual letters on the signage will be illuminated to enhance the prominence of the brand and the location of The Fold. The ‘The Fold’ text proposes to be acrylic face and opal in colour with warm white LEDs internally housed between the acrylic and black coated stainless steel (lightbox) to illuminate it and the ‘Croydon’ text proposes to be a neon tangerine colour, all illuminated internally.”
The Fold (please, do try not to laugh) is one of four residential blocks being built in what housing association L&Q is calling “The Queen’s Quarter”, probably because after being allowed by the Labour-run council to extend their site over the town centre’s only bit of public space, there’s barely a quarter of Queen’s Gardens left.
The first of the four blocks was handed over to Croydon Council earlier this year, providing 90 purpose-built council flats. This block is called Malcolm Wicks House, named after the late MP for Croydon North.
The other blocks are due to be released on to the market in early 2022 – it having taken a total of nine years to reach this point, after the council’s exit from Taberner House, getting it demolished and then deciding on a developer for the scheme. Building work on the site did not begin until 2018.
During the course of the laborious process, the council managed to consider, and eventually dismiss, the possibility that first CCURV, the Tories’ disastrous joint venture with John Laing, and then Brick by Brick might oversee the development of the site.
And these delays all came while at the same time the council was regularly reciting the mantra of there being a housing crisis and the urgent need for more housing at social rents.
The value received by the cash-strapped council for this prime, town centre development site (developers Hub and L&Q basically get three blocks and 424 flats to profit from) has always remained a tightly guarded secret by the Town Hall.
One of the new blocks is understood to be called Bloom House. With shared ownership deals available from next month, a one-bed apartment there will cost £330,000. A three-bedroom flat will cost £500,000.
Given the proximity of the residential developments to the Town Hall and Fisher’s Folly, the council’s new offices, the naming of the fourth block might be seen as offering terrific opportunity to immortalise the traumatic last few years of Croydon history.
How about “Tony Newman House”? Or might that put off potential buyers for the risk of it being far too costly, and liable to collapse at any moment?
Or, to twin the new tower with The Fold, how about “The Flip”? Or “The Flop”? Both words synonymous with the council’s plight, surely?
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