CROYDON COMMENTARY: The council is running a consultation (another one), this time over its proposals to increase the amount of housing intensification it will allow across the borough. ANITA SMITH shares her concerns about the changes to the Local Plan
How many people in Croydon know about the so-called “consultation” taking place to determine how many more “homes” (for that, read “flats”) our council can squeeze into our already congested town?
The current Croydon Local Plan, a “strategy for development in the borough”, was agreed by the council as recently as 2018. What we have now is an amendment to that plan, setting out new areas for “intensification” and “windfall sites”.
This “consultation”, like so many carried out by this council (on Landlord licensing and the 20mph zones, to name but two), is meaningless. It is simply a box-ticking exercise.
DEMOC, the campaign set up to force a referendum on whether or not we should have a directly-elected Mayor, had the slogan “When did the council last listen to you?”
Well, when did it? On anything?
I attended a meeting last week in Addiscombe. This meeting was called by Jason Perry the Conservative Mayoral candidate, to explain to residents’ associations how:
a) the “consultation” works,
b) the form filling (quite complicated) is done,
c) the four grounds under which you can object legally, and provided an opportunity for residents’ associations and interested parties to exchange views.
Perry expressed the view that he was against the destruction of family homes.
From statements made by people from across the borough, I can tell you that the council is still not listening.
They have still not taken on board that the people of this town are fed up with not being listened to. They blunder on as they did in the past, when the Gang of Four (or was it three?) were running the town into the ground. Nothing has changed.
The legacy and influence of the people who bankrupted the borough lives on. People are concerned that the drive for density and intensification fails to protect what little character Croydon has left.
Neighbouring boroughs Bromley and Sutton both chose to ignore their allocated quotas of extra housing, whereas Croydon chose to increase ours.
Croydon has chosen to destroy family homes, build more and more flats, and from my perspective, tried to change the face of Croydon forever. It’s political!!
The Labour Mayoral candidate, Val Shawcross, has also engaged with the new intensification plans as it affects my own estate. I have lived with my family on the Whitgift Foundation Estate for more than 40 years. It is a family-friendly area of detached houses.
Someone in the planning department in Croydon, someone with a pencil and probably no brain, has drawn a line right through the middle of the Whitgift Estate.
On this side, oooh, let’s build flats, demolish family houses, create new roads, mews, add a third storey and squeeze a couple more small houses in the back gardens. On the other side, ok, the residents can live in their homes for a little bit longer.
This can only provide tension on an estate of similar houses and amenities. These proposals would destroy an important Croydon housing asset. It is difficult to escape the thought that here is “the politics of envy” at its worst. You have it, so we want it, or we’ll wreck it.
Val Shawcross came to walk round our Estate with the chairman of the residents’ association and has replied to letters from concerned residents saying that it would be an “act of vandalism” to do what is proposed in this Regulation 19 amendment.
It might be an act of vandalism, Val, but who is going to stop such vandalism being carried out? The council who don’t listen? The councillors who nod through anything put before them? Or the planning department who don’t have any effective enforcement officers to make sure developers are sticking to their approved schemes and who cooked up this ill-considered plan in the first place?
According to both Mayoral candidates, nothing can stop these amendments from being passed, despite the so-called “consultation”. The consultation that many people haven’t even heard of. It’s like a chapter from Alice in Wonderland!
The closing date for objections and submissions to the consultation is February 17. By the end of March, the objections which meet the criteria are summarised and sent to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove.
He then refers this Regulation 19 amendment to the Planning Inspectorate. This should be achieved by the end of April.
On May 5, there are elections in Croydon for both a Mayor and for councillors. Should there be a change of administration at the council, this Local Plan amendment would have already been submitted and cannot be changed. So, call me paranoid, but this could well be seen as a last-ditch stand by the current ruling group, who do not listen to what we say and want to push through their agenda to concrete over the whole of Croydon before they are pushed out of power.
All done without many interested parties in Croydon being aware of the intensification that is being proposed for homes and gardens right across the borough. Your back garden could be next!
The only way to affect change is through the ballot box. It seems to be too late to stop these amendments from passing, so underhand and badly advertised has this “consultation” been, (our residents’ association only stumbled on this revised plan by accident a couple of weeks ago, and others learned the news from us).
But by getting rid of the nodding donkeys at the council who are responsible, and by sending a message to the unscrupulous developers who are blighting our suburbs that we will not be ignored, perhaps we can begin to move forward.
We demand change, and change is coming.
- To view the council proposed changes to the Local Plan and take part in the consultation, click here
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