Councillors in Waddon have written to a development company that wants to build a 10-storey residential tower block next to the Purley Way playing fields and accused them of running a “sham” public consultation and treating residents with “utter contempt”.
Bellway acquired the site of the former Wyevale Garden Centre on Waddon Way which, until it was closed in 1979, had been the Purley Way Lido.
Their latest proposals look to cram an “excessive” 180 homes on the site, about five times as many as was indicated in a recent version of the council’s Local Plan.
The councillors are also overtly critical of the council’s own planning department for ignoring its own policies and agreements reached by elected representatives.
The developers have been encouraged to push for greater development on the site, and a taller tower block in an area of two-storey homes, only after a pre-application consultation with Croydon Council’s own planning department.
According to a letter to the developers from councillors Robert Canning, Joy Prince and Andrew Pelling, Bellway submitted their planning application before their own consultation had concluded.
In their letter, the councillors say, “We were very disappointed to discover that Bellway’s planning application for 89 Waddon Way was submitted to Croydon Council ahead of this public consultation closing on 10 April.
“This means that no comments submitted through this consultation will be taken into account in the finalisation of the planning application.”
The Waddon councillors smelt a rat when they looked at Bellway’s online consultation form and found it only asked three questions, relating to the need for new homes, the principle of development and the restoration of the diving board. “We are at a loss to understand why explicit questions were not included on important matters such as building heights, parking provision, affordable housing provision and the actual design of the scheme and proposed landscaping,” the councillors wrote.
“In our opinion, this public consultation can only be described as a sham that is treating Waddon residents with utter contempt. As the planning application has already been submitted, we can also confirm that we will be objecting to it based on the three issues we have highlighted above.”
The councillors’ letter says that they have “serious concerns about what is currently being proposed and would ask that these concerns be addressed”.
The councillors list their concerns as “overdevelopment”, the 10-storey block and “the additional on-street parking pressure that a development of this magnitude is likely to generate”.
They write, “In principle, we welcome and support the redevelopment of this brownfield site – which is currently derelict – to provide much-needed new housing in the borough. We also welcome the plans to put the Grade II-listed Art Deco diving board of the former Purley Way Lido (which occupied this site between 1935 and 1979) at the centre of the development and to restore this diving board as a heritage asset.”
Under “overdevelopment”, the councillors state that “the site at 89 Waddon Way is only about 1hectare in size yet the scale of the proposed development – 180 new homes plus commercial space – is massive. The number of new homes being proposed is considerably more than the indicative number contained in the 2018 version of the Croydon Local Plan (35 to 94 new homes) and is also more than the latest iteration of the Plan which is currently being reviewed (which indicates 152 new homes for this site).
“The number of new homes that Bellway is proposing for this location is excessive, not in keeping with the Croydon Local Plan and constitutes overdevelopment of the site,” the councillors say.
They also criticise Bellway for failing to be explicit about its plans for a 10-storey tower in a leaflet distributed to residents living nearby. “We assume this was an oversight rather than an attempt to hoodwink Waddon residents,” they say.
“A 10-storey block of flats at this location is unacceptable and would contribute to the overdevelopment of the site. A block of this height would be overbearing and out of character with the local area…”.
The letter from the councillors appears to have been drafted with two audiences in mind: Bellway as developers, but also council planning officials, such as the controversial director of planning and concrete fetishist, Heather Cheesbrough.
“We would emphasise that a decision was taken by Croydon’s elected councillors last December to drop the proposal for a 10-storey tower block at this location… ahead of the council’s consultation earlier this year on the Croydon Local Plan review. This decision by elected members needs to be accepted and reflected when deciding what building height is appropriate at this location,” say the councillors.
“Furthermore, Croydon Council’s planning guidance on tall buildings is clear that tall buildings will be encouraged only in the Croydon Opportunity Area, areas in District Centres and locations around well-connected public transport interchanges. The site at 89 Waddon Way does not meet any of these criteria.
“In fact, the location has a Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) rating of 1 – poor. Consequently, no tall building should be built at this location and we would like to see the height of the proposed 10-storey block reduced substantially.”
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If councillors can’t get through to Croydon’s duplicitous planning department, what chance do mere residents have?
That the Planning Department is encouraging the developer to build more units in spite of residents and councillors’ concerns is ridiculous.
Katherine Kerswell should sort this out in the short period of time she has left before the new Mayor is elected. Residents do NOT want her staying in her role after then. She is a useless CE; she only visibly active when making people redundant. Croydon deserves so much better than Kerswell.