MP joins objectors as Heathfield House plans get called in

A council official-backed proposal to convert Heathfield House into a special school, surrounding it with 9ft-high prison-style fencing, has been “called in” for consideration by the planning committee.

Uncertain future: Heathfield House could be the latest casualty of council’s financial mismanagement if it is leased out permanently for a special school

Today is the final day for residents and interested bodies to lodge any comments – for or against – the proposals.

The plans have been submitted to Croydon Council by Horizon Care and Education Group, the multi-million-pound company which runs Cressey College and wants to rent the building and parts of the grounds.

Among those to have lodged a complaint about the proposals is Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central.

Jones said yesterday that, “Whilst there is a need for more Special Educational Needs provision in Croydon, I share local residents concerns about the loss of the use of the gardens surrounding Heathfield House as a public space and the imposition of a three-metre fence.”

Heathfield House is a Victorian-era villa in the Addington Hills which is Grade II-listed. It was bought by the council in the 1960s, and has since been used as a staff training centre, while the grounds and gardens are popular with visitors and ramblers, and serve as the base for the Croydon Ecology Centre and its regular fairs and fetes.

Cressey College, which has about 50 pupils aged from four to 19, has been using the building as a temporary measure since covid lockdown, but they have sought a more permanent tenancy from the council.

The school’s council-backed alterations and changes to Heathfield House will now be considered at a planning committee meeting.

Last night Labour councillor Leila Ben-Hassel tweeted, “As vice-chair of Croydon planning committee, I have used my referring rights to get the application relating to Heathfield House, one of Croydon’s Grade II-listed buildings, to be considered and determined by the planning committee.”

In a note to the development management team, Ben-Hassel wrote, “Although I fully understand the need to take up any opportunities to increase special needs education provision in Croydon, I feel the proposed plans have the potential to cause harm to one of the few Grade II-listed buildings we have in Croydon.

Well-planned: Cllr Leila Ben-Hassel

“It is important that we protect our heritage as best we can.”

The councillor was careful not to express any view on the appropriateness, or otherwise, of the proposed building works to be conducted at Heathfield House. Members of the planning committee are not allowed to pre-judge any of the applications that come before them.

But given that the alterations being put forward for planning permission are coming from a tenant client of the council, it appears most likely that council planning officials will recommend that the application is approved. The councillors on the planning committee may well take a different view once they have considered the application.

Read more: 9ft fence for special school could ruin listed Heathfield House

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This entry was posted in Business, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Heathfield House, Leila Ben-Hassel, Planning, Sarah Jones MP, Schools and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to MP joins objectors as Heathfield House plans get called in

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Well done to Ms Hassel and Ms Jones however again where is the Mayor on this?

    • Jovita Kaunang says:

      Heathfield House was safe for occupation until Cressey College pupils smashed the windows that remain boarded up, which should have been dealt with by the College’s own insurance.

      If Cressey College permanently occupies the building, Heathfield House could suffer greater under-occupancy when the school has its holidays and at weekends.

      This proposal shows little imagination on the side of the Council, when in neighbouring Merton, funding has been sought for The Canons House and Gardens to be refurbished and maintained as a public asset. It’s just a tram ride away from Coombe Lane.

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