Locals living near Selhurst Park have organised to oppose the new stand – despite being frozen out of meetings by their Labour councillors
Two residents’ associations in the area around Selhurst Park, together with council tenants whose homes are under threat of demolition, have joined forces to oppose the £100million new stand being proposed by Crystal Palace Football Club.
Frozen out of meetings by their own elected councillors, residents of Rothesay Road, Farnley Road and Wooderson Close, together with the Holmesdale Residents’ Association and Pembroke Road RA, held their own meeting last week at which they agreed to show a red card to the Palace redevelopment.
Leaflets being distributed in the area claim that only eight full-time jobs will be created in Croydon by the new stand. “The local community deserves more,” the leaflet states.
They also reckon that the new stand, with its emphasis on corporate hospitality boxes, is aimed at “the prawn sandwich brigade”, offering little for season ticket-holders and regular Eagles fans.
“The design is brilliant at celebrating arrival to the ground, but… all the focus is on corporate hospitality, looking away from the pitch and on to private homes [and] gardens.
“You the fans deserve a better stadium, let’s… give this application the red card!”
The residents criticise the scheme’s scale and massing. The gargantuan new stand, in an area of two-storey houses, will be seven storeys high – the original application four years ago claimed that the building would be five storeys.
They also say that the stand would cause light pollution and issues with glare, and it would overlook neighbouring properties. At least, it would overlook those neighbouring properties that don’t get bulldozed to make way for the development.
In a paper prepared for the residents by a local architect, the demolition of at least five houses on Wooderson Close is compared to the homes destroyed in Mariupol in Ukraine by invading Russian forces.
Those living in houses neighbouring Selhurst Park, some of whom have been living in limbo and uncertainty for nearly five years, are not convinced by the club’s offer to pay for new homes to be built.
“London is in the middle of a housing crisis,” they say.
“Selling off assets and relocating long-term residents who have lived in the area for over 30 years is not only adding to the problem, it is also a betrayal of trust.”
The residents also claim that they have been deliberately shut out of the consultation process by their own Labour councillors in South Norwood ward, who they believe are working closely with lobbyists for the football club.
Palace’s new stand, which will add nearly 10,000 seats to the stadium, was first granted planning permission by Croydon Council in 2018. But the development stalled and the club failed to sign an important agreement undertaking to rehome the residents of five houses on Wooderson Close that would have to be demolished to make way for the massive new structure.
Palace have this summer submitted a revised planning application. It is expected to be brought before the planning committee next month.
But specially hired lobbyists have refused to allow the affected residents to attend their meetings with councillors. And now the councillors have been accused of holding their own “secretive” meetings with council directors to discuss the plans, without any proper engagement with the affected residents.
It is understood that the councillors involved are Louis Carserides and Christopher Herman, both of whom have day jobs working for Labour MPs.
Carserides works in the Westminster office of Croydon North MP, Steve Reed OBE, who in late 2021 was wined and dined by Peter Bingle, the founder of the Terrapin Group.
It is the same Terrapin Group that has been hired as lobbyists by Crystal Palace.
Residents’ letters to the councillors over their behind-closed-doors meetings with Terrapin and with council planners have failed to receive any response.
In their leaflets and submissions to the council’s planning department, the coalition of Selhurst and South Norwood residents say, “As neighbours, we are sympathetic to the needs of the football club”, but they say that Palace “have prioritised the need for growth and profits over their neighbours and… they are willing to make long-standing members of the community homeless and displaced”.
They claim that in 2018, the planning committee concluded that the size of the scale of the stand is disproportionate to the low-rise housing in the surrounding streets.
“Loose arguments around the broader economic benefits and commercial viability for the club are noted but none of design excellence, which is the usual minimum for a project of this scale .
“The proposed building is far from memorable, bold or iconic. It is so bland and generic… [it] could be mistaken for an airport, a shopping centre or office block. The only bold element is the mass and scale of building when considered against the neighbouring local properties.
“Aside from potentially diluting the footballing experience with the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ the main issue with the hospitality and supporting balconies is the issue of overlooking Clifton Road, Wooderson Close and Holmesdale Road.”
Read more: Residents blocked from meeting by football club’s lobbyists
Read more: Consultation on Selhurst new stand is extended by two weeks
Read more: ‘Abrasive’ lobbyist smoothing the way for Selhurst’s new stand
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