Residents in Oval Road put in a spin by latest flats scheme

Dumped on: existing residents feel they will be squeezed out if developers build their 36 flats at 130 Oval Road

Long-suffering residents in Addiscombe are trying to fight proposals to build two blocks of flats, of up to four storeys, that profit-hungry developers, aided by the council’s planners, are proposing to squeeze into a narrow space between the back gardens of homes on Oval Road and Cedar Road.

The residents suspect another planning department stitch-up, this time in favour of a South Croydon-based developer, UK Land Assets.

Residents say that the scheme has been through the pre-planning process. They say that they have been told at a meeting with their councillors that although the developer wants to build 36 flats, the firm has been given a money-spinning “special dispensation” that will allow them to make only six of the homes available as “affordable housing”.

That’s only half as many as might be expected under planning rules, which usually require at least one-third of units in any residential development to be “affordable”. That dispensation, allowing the developer to put six extra flats on the open market, could be worth nearly £2million in retail sales values, at a time when the Labour-controlled council routinely complains about the shortage of available social housing.

The area around East Croydon Station and along Cherry Orchard Road is part of the council’s designated “Opportunity Area”, and is already choc-a-bloc with new or under-construction tall, residential towers. Existing residents fear that this new scheme will add to their daily woes of poor rubbish collection, parking problems and congestion, and presents a real risk because of lack of easy access for emergency vehicles.

The residents say that while their Labour councillors in Addiscombe West ward initially sounded supportive, as the deadline for objections approaches this week, they are no longer replying to emails expressing concern.

What a site: the existing light-industrial plant yard between residential gardens of homes on Oval and Cedar roads, outlined in red in the planning application documents

The application for planning permission states that it is for “the demolition of existing unoccupied warehouse buildings”. Residents state that this is misleading, since the yard is currently used by a plant rental firm, employing up to 10 people.

The application seeks permission to build “two part two-storey, part three-storey and part four-storey buildings providing 36 units with associated cycle and bin storage, amenity space and landscaping”.

Note: the developer is not providing any car parking spaces.

There was a previous application to build on the site, in 2013, when a four-storey block was refused.

The latest application has received 96 comments on the council’s planning portal. Only one is in support.

Jeet Bains, the Tory councillor for the neighbouring Addiscombe East ward, is listed as objecting, though none of the three Labour councillors for the ward where the development is proposed are named on the planning portal.

“Oval Road is a troubled road,” one resident told Inside Croydon. “We’ve had Binmageddon, where our bins were taken away without a proper consultation and instead we were told to hang bin bags off the fences. The area is not coping well as it is already.

“The waste management situation is already a complete failure on Oval Road. How can more residents make this any better?

“We don’t understand why they want to build houses between the rows of back gardens.”

The residents’ objections include on grounds of the proposed buildings not being in-keeping with the area, loss of light to existing properties (“This is a complete invasion of privacy”), “density and overdevelopment”, “fire safety” (“There is only one escape route. If this is blocked by fire, this is a tragedy waiting to happen”), and parking.

Blocked in: the outline of the four-storey blocks of flats which will have only a narrow access point off Oval Road

Other developments nearby were approved without the developers having to provide any car parking spaces, on the proviso that the residents of the new-builds would not have cars. The reality, as you might expect, is somewhat different, as some new residents do own vehicles, and the council has broken its promises by granting them parking permits, putting ever-greater pressure on the few roadside bays available.

The residents say that they have been ignored by the developer. But what has raised the suspicions of Oval Road residents is the recent silence of their councillors, Sean Fitzsimons and Jerry Fitzpatrick.

Nimby?: Labour’s Sean Fitzsimons

“The councillors promised us help in writing objection letters,” one said. “They were going to send us a document. But now they are not responding to our emails any more.”

Another resident said, “Councillor Fitzsimons was publicly abusive towards some residents who supported the campaign for a directly-elected mayor, accusing them of being against providing housing and of being ‘Nimbys’ – ‘Not In My Back Yard’.

“Is he scared now that if he does what he’s supposed to do, and represent the interests of dozens of residents in his own ward, he will be seen to be a massive hypocrite, and accused himself of being a Nimby?”

The application for 130 Oval Road can be viewed on the council planning portal here, which is accepting comments until this Thursday, February 24.

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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
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3 Responses to Residents in Oval Road put in a spin by latest flats scheme

  1. Anna says:

    Similar situation on Addiscombe avenue where they are trying to put up 5 flats on a plot that was used for small house, they have already squeezed 3 houses on one plot on Everton road

    • Rod Davies says:

      The uncomfortable reality is that UK, primarily England, has avoided for a century a debate about the consequences of its decisions regarding housing. Unlike our European counterparts, UK has preferred extensive rather than intensive housing development so that each English man or woman can have their own little castle. Unfortunately this approach is very expensive to operate and consumes vast amounts of land.
      Each of the tower blocks on Cherry Orchard Rd, for example, has as many homes as a small street and each pays its council tax according to banding. Yet compared with the average street with the same number of houses, there is only 1 street light; just a few metres of pathway to be kept clean; refuse collection is centralised; the homes are close to public transport hubs reducing the need for private vehicles. By & large these developments are highly efficient and cost the public purse little to maintain – so what happens to the operational surplus generated by council tax. Basically it is used to subsidise people who live in individual houses far away from public service operations.
      With a dispersed population, public transport becomes less sustainable and so people use their cars more. As they do, they create more pollution that impacts the people who live in the more densely populated centre – so not only are the people in and around the tower blocks contributing more than they cost, they are also paying a price with their health.
      Yet people in the centre seem to meekly accept this situation.

  2. Rod Davies says:

    Back in 2013/14, the council consulted local residents associations about the Local Plan. The council gained support for a plan in which it was envisaged that in Addiscombe Place the area between Addiscombe Rd, Tunstall Rd, Lwr Addiscombe Rd and the railway line would be designated for high density development. The other parts of Addiscombe Place were assigned to be of low density development. Naturally the majority were happy because they were largely unaffected. The approach was replicated across the borough.
    This approach by the council cynically disempowered residents most affected by the plans.
    This proposed development is exactly what the council, supported by the majority, intended. It will be approved because it is in line with the Local Plan.
    The council officers did state that the area would be a recipient of inward invested to improve the environment for residents – so far nothing has occurred to provide evidence of this investment.

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