‘The Fold’: former council-owned site takes a gamble with name

Our housing correspondent, BARRATT HOLMES, on the latest laugh-out-loud move by developers working in the centre of Croydon

Blocking off: Bloom House is one of four blocks on the Taberner House site that is finally nearing completion

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 Fold”.

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.

Open doors: the architects’ drawings accompanying the planning application

“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.

Spaced out: there’s not much left of Queen’s Gardens

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?

You decide…

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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 Alison Butler, Brick by Brick, Business, Croydon Council, Planning, Property, Taberner House, Tony Newman, URV and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to ‘The Fold’: former council-owned site takes a gamble with name

  1. I think ‘fold’ also means “To Bitch Out’

    Eg

    Labour Party Central Office realised the extent of the financial disaster in Croydon and Tony (Newman) Folded.

  2. Lancaster says:

    The developers advertising on their hoardings said The Queens Gardens would be :bigger and better than before’ ! The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 ?

  3. Lewis White says:

    Now that the development is built, I really must go and see if these daylight-blocking blocks cast a bigger shadow over the remaining Queens Gardens than did the iconic shaped Taberner House, former main building of Croydon Council. That building was quite wide, particularly at the base, and in Winter cast a long and wide shadow, blocking the sun from warming and illuminating the adjacent half of the Gardens. The Gardens sit to the North of the Taberner site and are therefore vulnerable to overshadowing and all that means for the light, warmth and ambience of the gardens, and for their “liveability” and attractiveness to users as a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors and sunshine. Including a place for children to play in a welcoming microclimate.

    To be fair to the designers of the replacment four-block redevelopment, they created a North to South gap down the middle of the site, with a pair of blocks on eac h side. This gap should admit some Midday light down from the sunny South (the flyover / roundabout end) and in to the Gardens which sit at the North of Taberner site. The extent of the illumination and warming effect is something I have yet to assess.

    Tellingly, the Planning Application included shadow plans to show the extent of the shadow from the new buildings, but as far as I recall, the drawing showed the Midsummer shadow but not the Midwinter situation. It would have been revealing to see a drawing showing the shadow at the four corners of the year — both Equinoxes and Solstices.

    I objected to the proposed 4 blocks on this “overshadowing” , and also on the basis that they would rob the Gardens of part of its area. There was a “denial” of this by the council and developers that there was any loss of parkland space, as the elongated space between the blocks that I mention above, was counted as being part of the gardens, not the development, even though it is clearly not part of the Gardens itself.

    The Gardens used to be nice and sunny, except for the end nearest Taberner House. In the high days of office working, they used to be really popular with local government and local office workers from Nestle and the many insurance company buildings that were the commercial anchors of the “Mini Manhattan Croydon”. The area felt safe and naturally overlooked.

    I hope that my worst fears will be wrong. I hope that the Winter time Gardens are not dark and dismal, stone cold, and lashed by vortex winds generated by the configuration of the four new blocks. Will the wind whip through the light-well “gap” and act like some South London version of the “Mistral” of France.

    The whole question of light reaching our London parks and streets is now becoming a very obvious issue— no— a real problem. If you want to see how people love the sunshine, and are being deprived of it by redevelopment, go to Potters Fields park by Tower Bridge and the London Assembly building. There is a nicely designed block of luxury apartments (far too posh to be called “flats”) on the South Side of the Fields. Built about 5 years ago, maybe 6, the block sits to the South side of the Eastern half of the gardens.

    Sadly, its shadow blocks out a huge amount of the afternoon sun, particularly in Winter.
    The crowds –and I mean, crowds of people who used to lie down and sunbathe or just sit and relax on the sunny raised green grass areas in this area of Potters fields are now deprived of sunlight as a result of the overshadowing. The grass areas they once frequented are now chilly and gloomy in the Spring and Autumn and cold and dark in Winter.

    Covid has made obvious the vital needs of urban human beings for parks near to where they live, so that they can quickly get out onto fresh air, and enjoy light and greenery.

    We do not need experts to tell us that our physical and mental health are in fact one “Health” and that, with all our differences of body type, ethnicity and income, people share key needs of a decent environment where they live, not in some distant “National Park”.

    We in the UK are blessed with having fresh water from the tap, refuse collection and sewage treatment to take away our waste, and most of us have our needs for clothes, food and shelter met.
    However, one thing that we are being deprived of in London and Croydon is daylight, as a result of redevelopment with higher buildings. Even in suburban streets, where higher blocks replace individual homes, and where the gaps between detached and semi-detached houses are all getting filled up with side extensions.

    This topic is going to get more and more problematical.

    It seems to me that a lot more care and attention– and design controls– will need to be exercised in the Planning process if we are not to end up with dark streets.

    Lots of politicians couldn’t care less.

    They should.

    • “ It seems to me that a lot more care and attention– and design controls– will need to be exercised in the Planning process if we are not to end up with dark streets”

      It will need a fundamentally changed planning department – the current management is incapable of this level of planning intervention.

  4. Lancaster says:

    Lewis, no need to worry about the loss of light. any loss these ‘designed’ monoliths create will be replaced by the electronic bus shelters and all associated flashing / changing advertising… as I said, Blade Runner here we come.

  5. Pete Jenkins says:

    Queen’s Gardens: From what can be seen from the road it looks like there are too many steps (with stark white balustrades) and not enough slopes for access to certain areas. Also do we know if the subway from the lower level of the Gardens to Fairfield will be reopened?

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