Long-planned Coulsdon medical centre in ‘critical condition’

The long-planned development of the Coulsdon Medical Centre on the site of the CALAT building has been placed on hold.

Doomed: the crashed economy has prompted the developers to pull out of the Coulsdon Medical Centre project

The front page of the latest edition of the newsletter from the Coulsdon West Residents’ Association puts it bluntly: “Critical condition”.

The medical centre, on the site of what was once Smitham School, adjacent to Woodcote Grove Road, was one of the quid-pro-quo projects in a complicated arrangement that included the building of 78 flats on the Lion Green Lane car park by Brick by Brick, the council’s failed development company. Suffice to say, five years after being granted planning permission, the flats are not yet occupied, while the medical centre seems no closer to fruition.

Now, with the national economy plunged into recession, the prospects of starting work on the medical centre look doomed.

Matthew Kershaw, the chief executive of the Croydon Health Services and NHS Trust, has told the Coulsdon West Residents’ Association: “We have been advised that the current building developer (PHP – Primary Healthcare Properties) has paused all of its projects with the NHS that it is not yet contractually obliged to complete.

“They intend to review the impact of rising interest rates and other external factors which affect the developers’ view of the project’s financial viability and those of their investors.

“We are now working urgently to resolve these issues and we are in discussion with NHS England about the national funding we are receiving for these projects.”

The significant rise in the costs of the project will have damaged any chance of their making a profit, so PHP have bailed out. NHS Croydon definitely wants the centre to be built, but whether they can afford the new price tag that will come with it is another matter.

On the positive side, despite derelict appearances, the old Smitham School is becoming a Renal Unit as planned, with a number of outbuildings already demolished.

Unresolved: the council is still wrangling over the terms of its 25-year lease with the charity volunteers who run the Coulsdon Community Centre Association

Elsewhere in Coulsdon, another publicly-owned asset that was blighted by the uncertainty surrounding Brick by Brick and its aborted schemes, is also encountering problems.

Despite having been agreed in principle last December, the Coulsdon Community Centre Association is still negotiating with the cash-strapped council over the terms of their new 25-year lease.

The council, the owners of the heritage building, wants to push responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the centre on Barrie Close entirely on to the charity that runs it, while still charging a significant annual rent.

According to a Coulsdon source, “The CCCA is obviously fighting this attempt by the landlords to take the money with no responsibility attached.”

They describe it as “unreasonable” and “a threat to the centre’s survival”.

They said, “It is well understood that the current administration has inherited a poison chalice with regard to finances, but punishing the people of Croydon while letting the councillors and executives who caused the deficit get away with incompetence is unacceptable.”

Read more: Brick by Brick abandons its planning consents and 23 sites
Read more: ‘Disgrace’ as £110m of Brick by Brick homes stand empty
Read more: Council slips through £5m deal to buy Brick by Brick houses

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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