Housing correspondent BARRATT HOLMES reports on a bit of a climb down from ‘The Platform’
House-builder Bellway has scaled down its plans for the site of the former Wyevale garden centre near the Purley Way, reducing the height of its tallest residential tower by half.
Another round of consultation is about to start over the sensitive site alongside the vast green open spaces of Purley Way Playing Fields and including a listed structure, the art deco concrete diving tower of the old Purley Way Lido.
Leaflets for the consultation sessions have been distributed around the Waddon Estate.
Conspicuous by its absence from those leaflets is any mention of the 10-storey block of flats from their earlier proposals, that would have dominated the skyline next to the playing fields and the mostly two-storey houses on the estate.
Inside Croydon revealed in early 2021 how Bellway had acquired the site on Waddon Way which, from 1935 until its closure in 1979, had been the Purley Way Lido. The garden centree closed in 2018.
The house builder had originally unveiled plans for 180 homes to be built around the former lido’s Grade II-listed diving tower. Bellway intends to call its development “The Platform”, as a homage to the diving board.
In March 2022, Bellway submitted a planning application to Croydon Council to build 180 homes, including the overbearing 10-storey tower block. That application is still shown on the council’s planning website as awaiting determination.
According to well-placed sources, Bellway were strongly encouraged to increase the number of new homes proposed for their scheme and to include the 10-storey block after pre-application discussions with the council’s planning department, even though such over-development went against residents’ wishes and was firmly opposed by Waddon’s councillors.
It also meant ignoring the council’s own tall buildings planning guidance, with council planners urging the developer to pre-empt the review of the Croydon Local Plan and Purley Way Masterplan.
It did not go unnoticed by Waddon’s previous councillors, Robert Canning, Andrew Pelling and Joy Prince, that Bellway’s consultation on these original proposals took place after the developer had already submitted its plans to the council.
In a strongly-worded consultation response, they slammed Bellway for undertaking what they saw as a sham consultation, as well as raising concerns about overdevelopment, building height and likely additional on-street parking stress.
Unlike some of the councillors who stood down at the local elections on May 5, Canning, Pelling and Prince carried on working hard on behalf of their constituents even in their final days as elected representatives.
That hard work appears to have paid off for Waddon Way residents. In its latest glossy flyer delivered to homes around the site, Bellway is at pains to emphasise how it has listened to the community and made a number of important changes to its proposals.
In its flyer, the house builder says how its plans now include:
- a reduced number of homes on the site – Inside Croydon has been told by a spokesperson for Bellway that 165 are now proposed
- improved public realm, including new trees and better connections
- restoration of the Grade II-listed diving platform
- improvements to overall design
- a reduction in height of buildings, to a maximum of five storeys
The now former Waddon councillor, Robert Canning, told Inside Croydon, “I’m pleased that Bellway has listened to local residents and their former councillors and significantly reduced proposed building heights.
“It’s not clear from the flyer how many new homes are now envisaged. Too many would risk overdevelopment, sub-standard accommodation and on-street parking chaos if adequate off-street parking is not provided bearing in mind that Waddon Way is not well served by public transport.
“The devil is usually in the detail and I’d encourage local residents to look at the revised plans carefully and make sure they have their say in this further round of consultation.
“Waddon is also fortunate to have two excellent new Labour councillors in Rowenna Davis and Ellily Ponnuthurai who will be looking closely at what is being proposed. I’ve been very impressed by how Rowenna and Ellily are speaking up for residents on planning matters and calling out inappropriate development.”
The flyer also contains details of the public consultation arrangements.
Drop-in events on the revised scheme will be held at the Aerodrome Hotel on Purley Way on Wednesday November 16 between 2pm and 5pm and on Thursday November 17 between 3pm and 7pm.
A virtual consultation will also be available from next Tuesday, November 15, which can be accessed at: www.waddonwayconsultation.co.uk. Comments can be submitted via this site or directly to Bellway at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who is not online can request a consultation pack by calling 020 3398 1590.
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