Countryside charity slams Local Plan threat to green spaces

One of England’s biggest conservation and countryside charities has accused Croydon Council’s revised Local Plan of “lacking ambition” and once again putting the borough’s green spaces under threat of development.

Lloyd Park at dawn: the CPRE says that open spaces like this need much better protections under the Croydon Local Plan

What the council is calling a “review” of the Croydon Local Plan is currently out for public “consultation”, with a series of revisions to the 800-odd-page document that was produced as recently as 2018 by Labour councillors Alison Butler and Paul Scott.

The latest consultation on the review – in which the council gathers the opinions of residents, residents’ associations and other bodies, and then ignores them – is due to close this Thursday, February 17.

Many planning experts and RAs who have pored over the document have expressed alarm that senior council officials appear to be trying to push through the binding Local Plan revisions with much higher-than-required housing targets ahead of this May’s Town Hall elections – effectively tying the hands of any incoming executive Mayor.

Prime suspect in this effort to extend the concreting of Croydon for another decade is Heather Cheesbrough, the “director of planning and sustainable regeneration”, and the pursuit of the planning department’s agenda for massive intensification of housing in the south of the borough.

The north-south divide: the planners give the game away with their Local Plan docs

The London region of the CPRE, the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England, has joined the debate, and has submitted its own presentation to the Local Plan consultation.

The CPRE’s submission says that they “believe the Council could demonstrate greater ambition for increasing the amount of green space in Croydon”.

The CPRE says, “For example, new parks could be created in areas of the borough with not enough green space by converting ‘grey space’ (roads, parking, hardstanding) into ‘streetparks’.”

And the charity warns against over-intensification: “We would like the council to ensure any new housing developments or estate regeneration ‘infill’ schemes do not leave residents with inadequate provision of green and communal open space (as of course a higher population density means more green space is needed per head).”

In their response to the consultation, the CPRE said, “We support Croydon’s plans to establish a Green Grid structured around a network of strategic blue and green corridors across the borough which will interconnect with adjacent boroughs’ green spaces.”

But they identify at least six open spaces and parkland sites around the borough which they say the council wants to concrete over, saying, “CPRE London does not support the developments of green space in London as it provides four vital ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, habitat for wildlife, managing rainwater and air temperature.

“This applies in Croydon as much as anywhere in London,” they say.

Heath Clark playing fields: sold for development by Croydon College in 2017, the CPRE thinks this can be joined up to Duppas Hill Park

The CPRE insists that Croydon should prioritise the use of brownfield sites for development, which they say “can provide space for the new homes that are needed”.

In their submission, the CPRE says, “The loss of green space for what is a relatively small number of new homes is not justified, especially in the context of the very large numbers of homes which will be built in the borough elsewhere.

“The green spaces which are identified for development are mainly in areas which have poor public transport accessibility and will be car-dependent, so increase congestion and pollution.”

Among those open spaces which the council wants to concrete over, causing concern for the CPRE, are:

Land fronting North Downs Road and Overbury Crescent in New Addington (“This important green space should be enhanced and improved so the local community can enjoy it as an area for exercise, play and relaxation,” the CPRE says. “The site should also be designated as a Local Green Space to protect it from inappropriate development that could cause harm to its qualities”)

Heath Clark playing fields, next to Duppas Hill Park, Waddon which was sold to a developer by Croydon College five years ago. During the previous Local Plan discussion, objections by the local Labour councillors mysteriously vanished from that 2018 consultation. Today, the CPRE says that Heath Clark “provides important benefits for local wildlife”, and “should be maintained as part of the adjacent recreation ground. We would also like to see it designated as a Local Green Space”.

Land at Poppy Lane, Shirley: “This site is part of a green chain, is clearly distinguishable from the built-up area surrounding it and contains features of nature conservation and habitat interest,” the CPRE says, adding that it should have been given the planning protection of a designation as Metropolitan Open Land.

The CPRE also wants an MOL designation for the nearby Stroud Green Pumping Station on Primrose Lane (“This site forms part of a green chain and contains features of nature conservation and habitat interest such as mature trees”).

And the CPRE is particularly concerned by the Local Plan’s attempts to re-draw the boundaries of the Green Belt at Coombe Farm, Oaks Road, to the north of Lloyd Park in the Addington Hills.

“We believe the council should not be making any changes to the Green Belt boundaries, on the basis that there is enough previously developed land in the borough to accommodate new housing needs. We do not support this car-dependent development which will be sited well away from sustainable public transport facilities,” the CPRE says.

That the council should be able to launch such an assault on the borough’s public green spaces will come as no surprise: when the Local Plan was originally being drawn up, five years ago, it became apparent that Butler and Scott, together with the Fisher’s Folly planners, had somehow managed to make a massive balls-up in applying local protections from development to around 70 of Croydon’s parks and green spaces.

Not a blade of grass in Croydon would be safe from the bulldozers it seemed, not even some church graveyards, after the planning inspector rejected Butler and Scott’s poor homework.

The latest review of the Local Plan, which was supposed to last six weeks, was published on the council website on January 14. Yes, four weeks ago.

Cabinet responsibility for the Local Plan has been handed to Ollie “Shitshow” Lewis, the Labour councillor who was in the cabinet for two years in charge of the borough’s arts, but failed to notice there was anything going wrong at the Fairfield Halls. Lewis is notorious for being “officer-led”, meaning that he believes everything that employees at Fisher’s Folly tell him. So expect this planning exercise to be the usual shambles.

Once the review is complete, the council is supposed to submit its Local Plan and consultation findings to Whitehall for approval. To find out more, click here.

Read more: Toxic legacy that could destroy borough’s character forever
Read more: Residents have 48 hours to save 70 parks and open spaces
Read more: Butler caught out in another lie over sale of public park land

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About insidecroydon

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, Community associations, Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Environment, Heather Cheesbrough, Housing, Lloyd Park, New Addington, Oliver Lewis, Paul Scott, Planning, Shirley, Waddon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Countryside charity slams Local Plan threat to green spaces

  1. Ian Ross says:

    Green spaces are sacrosanct and should be protected at all costs. Anything from Butler and Scott should be viewed with deep suspicion based on their deplorable track record. It’s high time that the relentless tide of building is stopped along with those in the council who clearly have vested interests in the continued destruction of Croydon in the name of “much needed” housing.

  2. Lewis White says:

    THANK YOU ! to Inside Croydon for this timely reminder that there are just 2 and a half days for people who are concerned about the future of Croydon’s built urban and suburban environment and its landscape and its nature, to get our representations in –by 5pm (NOT midnight) on the 17th February.

    I sincerely hope that all Inside Croydon readers will read the Public Consultation, accessed diect via the link in the article aboe (the link works, I just used it) and get their representations in.

    I inderstand that this is about the “soundness” of the policies and /or revised policies.
    The representations all should be provided to a future Plannng Inspector charged with the task of assessing the “soundness”.

    This in some ways makes it easy. Is it “sound” for the second busiest of the borough’s recycling centres to be closed ??? Is it “sound” for large chunks of green space to be built on ?? Especially when Natural England are right now assessing the stage 1 Public feedback regarding the proposed expansion of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natral Beauty, which could give added status and protection to areas of fine landscape (and their adjacent areas which provide theior setting) in the Croydon Green Belt.

    Is it sound for badly-located tall buildings to overshadow new and existing residential and shopping areas , condemning residents , workers and visitors to living / working and shopping/ experiencing many areas of Croydon in conditions lacking direct sunshine for much of the day — even, in perpetual darkness”?

    Is it “sound” that suburban plots occupied by 2 storey houses are routinely redeveloped for over-large 3 or even 4 storey flats, and that the once mainy green frontages facing the street, with their trees and shrubs and lawns, are concreted over, replaced by edge-to-edge deserts of concrete or tarmac paving, with pathetically tiny amounts of planting, much of which is in narrow beds in car parking areas, beds so narrow and unprotected that the shrubs in them will just get wiped out by the overunning tyres of cars and delivery vans within just weeks of completion of the redevelopment.

    Is it fair that all this is being rushed through , unnecessarily fast, presumably in order to box0-in, and stymie the future planning options of the soon-to-be-elected mayor?

    I could go on. And will send mine in before the deadline.

    Please– get you representations in. They don’t have to be complex– just to the point.

  3. Peter Underwood says:

    I remember when Labour kept telling us they were ‘ambitious for Croydon’. The only ambition in this plan appears to be to increase developer’s profits by letting them build even more blocks of flats everywhere.

    My ambition is to make Croydon greener, healthier and happier.

  4. Stephen Blythman says:

    Is the proposed change at Coombe Park, related to the part that used to be the Spastics Centre, and is now owned by a Labour Party supporter and financed, who has fairly trashed the site and would like to develope it?

  5. Lorraine Maskell says:

    Why does Croydon never learn, why do they think people voted overwhelmingly for a Directly Elected Mayor? However they are still intent on not listening to residents who have proudly lived in the greenest Borough who have said we do not want nor intensification and flats. People want proper homes not these slums of tomorrow they are sticking up everywhere.

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