Going, going… Labour council flogs off parkland for £600,000

The price of bankruptcy: Alison Butler once called another councillor a ‘lying cow’ for suggesting that she planned to sell off parts of the borough’s parks. Butler has never apologised

The toxic legacy of Alison Butler, Hamida Ali, Tony Newman and the rest of his numpties was hammered home this morning, with an auctioneer’s gavel.

Heath Lodge, the long-neglected park keeper’s cottage in Grangewood Park, Thornton Heath, was sold by the council together with a chunk of the park for a mere £600,000. That is just a little more than the cost to the council of the pay-off to Jo “Negreedy” Negrini, the disastrous chief exec who scarpered just before the financial collapse of the organisation she’d led for five years.

The identity of the Lodge’s purchaser was not revealed at the auction, which was conducted by Savill’s. The guide price for the property had been a very modest £310,000. Whichever property developer sealed the deal, they undoubtedly got a bit of a bargain.

Toxic legacy: Alison Butler

Given that Butler, the council’s former deputy leader and one-time cabinet member for housing, once shouted “lying cow!” across the Town Hall Chamber to another councillor who had discovered the Labour councillor’s secretive plans to sell the Lodge, and other public green spaces – all long before covid and double bankruptcy hit Croydon – this fire sale “asset disposal” will leave a bitter taste with many, not lease the Friends of Grangewood Park who have been battling against such a sale for the past five years.

Others who opposed the sale of the Lodge, which they wanted to utilise as a community venue, included MP Steve Reed OBE, Peter Underwood, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate, Tory mayoral wannabe Jason Perry and Andrew Pelling, who has been kicked out of the Labour Party.

Today, Underwood slammed the council, saying that they had taken “their 30 pieces of silver”.

Underwood said, “Heath Lodge and a section of Grangewood Park have now been privatised.

“This sale is of no benefit to the community, who have lost part of their park and a building that could have been a great asset to the area. The money from the sale will just be swallowed up by the council’s huge debts. It will provide nothing for Croydon residents.

“My commiserations to the Friends of Grangewood Park and the rest of the Thonrton Heath community who fought so hard for so long against this, and who have been ignored by the council.

“We must now all keep close watch for planning applications to cover this part of the park with flats.”

Meanwhile, standing silent, allowing the sale to go through against the wishes and interests of local people, were the current council leader, Hamida Ali, together with the Thornton Heath Labour ward councillors, Pat Clouder, Karen Jewitt and cabinet member for finance, Callton Young.

Butler, too, remains a councillor, although she will not be seeking election again.

Local elections are on May 5.

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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
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6 Responses to Going, going… Labour council flogs off parkland for £600,000

  1. Jim Bush says:

    Nobody will want to live there though. For example, in Annandale Road, Addiscombe, somebody sold out to developers allowing them to built a new cul-de-sac (Harriet Gardens) in most of their garden. But they moved out soon after because none of their neighbours would talk to them any more !?!

  2. Sedleywilson says:

    croydon council they do not care a bout the community

  3. Lewis White says:

    It may be interesting-or might be horrendous– to see what the new owners do with this character property. Maybe–a sensitive restoration, lived in by loving owners– or perhaps a future sale as a restored house to a discerning new owner for a £ million or so.

    I wonder if the Friends have asked the council to give “Locally listed status” to this building?. I see from the Croydon Planning “Local list” of buildings that the other Park Lodge –Wharnclifffe Lodge– is on the list. I couldn’t see a mention of the one we are talking of here, either under Grange or Ross Roads. Local listing means is not the same as National Listing by English Heritage, but it allows the local Planning authority to give special attention when planning applications are submitted….. if the proposed work comes within the scope of needing Planning Permission.

    I quote from the Council website;-
    “The Local List is a list of buildings and structures within Croydon considered to have special local architectural or historic interest by the public and the Council. To be included on the Local List, a building must meet two of the following criteria:

    architectural significance
    historical significance
    technical significance
    townscape value

    Details of Croydon’s Local List can be found in the Local List Supplementary Planning document.

    Local List SPD Part A: (Selection Criteria, Guidance on works to locally listed buildings, how to nominate a building, further information) (PDF, 1.7MB)
    Local List SPD Part B: (Details of buildings included on the list) (PDF, 995.1KB)”


    With regard to the context landscape, rather than the building itself, a new owner is likely to want to enclose their new front lawn, (the grass shown prominently in the photos published by Inside Croydon) to stop people picknicking or playing football on it or letting their dogs run around on it. The owner will probably want to fence the rest of their property perimeter, in the woods.

    This all spells “danger ” , as many owners have no clue about the design of fencing, and bung in timber interwoven panel fences of the kind used in suburban gardens since the 1960’s. On slopes these are normally stepped, and need something else to infill the gap below the panels in order to extend down to the ground. Ugly.

    The key arising visual need here is to ensure that the prominent front lawn that starts just inside from the park gates is not fenced off with a stepped arrangement of cheap fence panels marching up the slope alongside the main path.

    Fencing in woodlands, as at the back of the house, can look totally grim.
    The street frontage is of park railings. Are these to be safeguarded ?

    If there is no restructive covenant, normal planning “permitted development” rules allow a new fence of any design up to 1.0 m high alongside a highway, and up to 2 m high anywhere else, which applies to the woods and park interior. (see https://www.planningportal.co.uk/permission/common-projects/fences-gates-and-garden-walls/planning-permission )

    I would suggest that the Friends ask the Council for clarification as to any controls imposed at sale, about all aspects of the the perimeter fencing– and on the control of tree pruning and tree removal.

    I mention this because the public have a common misconception that all trees are somehow “protected”. This only applies to a very few trees, those under a Tree Preservation Order, or those in a Planning “Conservation Area”– that is a planning, not nature designation.

    Furthermore, most trees that are owned by councils are not protected by TPO’s, as Councils are deemed “good stewards” of land and trees.

    Now that the trees that come with the property are no longer “Council Trees”, they are quite likely to be 100% open to felling or pruning at the new owner’s whim. …….. and the fences can be what ever they want………..unless the council have placed restrictive covenants at the time of sale.

    I would be very happy to be told — even in the Michael Winner “Calm down dear ! ” sort of way– that these issues have already been dealt with by the council and that the appearance of the Lodge and its grounds are safegurded and therefore not going to be ruined.

    Over to you, Friends Group.

  4. Sylvia Murphy says:

    I believe a Lord ‘something’ left Grangewood Park to the people in perpetuity and it was never to be built on.

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