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.
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.
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.
“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?”
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