Council planners push developers to add 9 storeys to tower

The impossible dream: the developers’ very verdant CGI of Botanical House can’t manage to include all 39 storeys, and appears to offer a view from inside Croydon Law Courts

Our housing correspondent, BARRATT HOLMES, on the reasonable concerns of residents in East Croydon about plans for the Croydon Park Hotel site

Locals in East Croydon and Addiscombe have organised a campaign opposing the proposals from property developers Amro Partners for the latest get-rich-quick scheme, and yet another residential skyscraper to be built in the town centre.

This one is a “mere” 39 storeys, but the proposal will look remarkably familiar, as the blueprints have come off the same architects’ desks at HTA Design as the black towers built on George Street and the twin towers now being proposed at Lansdowne Road.

Amro got a bargain when they bought the Croydon Park Hotel from cash-strapped Croydon Council late in 2021, paying only £25million for the site on Altyre Road.

If their proposals, which include “a maximum 455 homes”, get planning permission and are built, they could be looking at a retail value for the properties of more than £170million.

The council’s 2018 purchase of the hotel was controversial, not least because Tony Newman and Simon Hall, the Labour leadership at the time, pushed the deal through without proper discussion by the council, and after agreeing to pay £5million more than the asking price.

Controversial: Tony Newman pushed through the council’s over-priced purchase of the Croydon Park Hotel

The Labour council said then that they wanted to invest in local businesses, but even they had no great desire to get into the hospitality business. The intention was always to knock down the 1960s-built 4-star hotel at the end of the operators’ lease and replace it with flats. Any profit in that ballsed-up investment will now land in the bank accounts of the private property developers.

The plans, which can be found on the council’s planning portal here, now include a tower block that is nine storeys higher than suggested when the company ran a preliminary public consultation last autumn.

Comments on the plans, whether in favour or against, can be lodged on the council website until March 30.

Residents living around East Croydon are concerned about the over-development in a relatively small area, following the Menta towers along Cherry Orchard Road, the four mammoth prefab blocks by George Street, plus the Pocket Homes on Addiscombe Grove, all towering above what was once a residential area of two-storey semis and terraced homes.

“There’s no extra doctors’ surgeries, no extra school places, public transport is already jammed every morning as we try to go to work, and don’t even get us started about the lack of any real services from our council these days,” according to one resident who contacted Inside Croydon complaining about “being hemmed in” and living “constantly in the shadows and wind tunnels created by these very tall skyscrapers”.

At least one important improvement has been made since Amro unveiled their plans for the site last year.

Gone is the brown-nosing suggestion that they might call their building “The Lilibet” – a fawning reference to the late Queen Elizabeth. The developers might have gone off that idea when they worked out that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had cravenly named their daughter Lilibet. Not an association, perhaps, that is guaranteed to lure in tenants with the readies to be able to afford rents approaching three grand per month.

Private space: Amro make much about the amenity space. It will be private gardens for the flats’ tenants

Now, Amro have opted, somewhat randomly, for “Botanical House”. No explanation is offered. Amro, like the Ten Degrees developers Greystar, intend their skyscraper to be build-to-rent.

“Botanical House will provide circa 450 new homes with accommodation suitable for single people through to family-sized apartments,” says the Amro blurb.

“Over half of the site will be soft landscaping with a courtyard garden, improvements to the street including tree-planting and upgrades to pavements and gym and leisure facilities.”

The garden will be private space, restricted to residents and their guests, only.

“Botanical House will also provide a community room available to rent by local residents or community groups.” Which is nice.

Amro went through the little two-step with the council’s pre-app planning process, which explains the nine additional storeys on their tower. It would make the tallest part of their development 13 storeys taller than Altitude 25, the neighbouring residential block.

Subject to being granted planning permission, they anticipate starting construction by the end of this year, with their new tenants moving in in spring 2026.

“Our vision is for a new, high-quality, well-designed development… The new building has been designed to maximise resident wellness…” WTAF? “… and will transform the quality of the surrounding area with a welcoming entrance on the corner of Hazledean and Altyre Roads.

Retro look: the second, lower-rise building, in reddish brick, has the look of Victorian tenement blocks

“Ranging from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom family homes, the mix of accommodation has been chosen to help meet Croydon’s housing needs.” Except what Croydon needs is a couple of thousand good-quality properties available at social rent and not subject to the threat of Right to Buy. But that would simply under-cut the steepling rents being charged by private landlords, and you can’t be having that, now, can we?

Amro say that 10per cent of their homes will be wheelchair accessible, and that “a proportion will be designated affordable homes”. Though they fail to state what proportion. The Mayor of London tends to seek 30per cent affordable – a proportion that scared off Westfield from building nearly 1,000 flats over the Whitgift shopping centre the last time they put together a development proposal.

Amro’s pitch continues: “Generously landscaped public spaces, with newly planted and more mature trees…”, mature trees don’t just grow overnight, you know, “… will line Altyre Road, transforming an urban street into a green route to Park Hill Park.” They appear to have missed the always busy, six-lane Barclay Road that between their property and the park.

And then there’s the admission that Croydon’s witless planning department has had its sticky mitts all over this. “We have worked with Croydon Council’s planners to explore a building height that reflects the town centre location.” So yeah, the council planners, paid to serve the borough’s residents and businesses, have told the developers to increase the size of the tower block by one-third.

Read more: K-erch-ing! Lobbyists consult on £200m scheme for hotel site
Read more: Council flogs off hotel for less than £29.8m it cost to buy
Read more: Council starts the biggest fire-sale ever seen in south London

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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
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6 Responses to Council planners push developers to add 9 storeys to tower

  1. Ian Bridge says:

    What is the attraction of build to rent? Would have thought if would be preferable to sell and move on

    • A steady income of – at current rents – around £12million per year, while retaining the capital value and land, is what one south London businessman used to describe as “a nice little earner”.

    • Pension firms (e.g. Legal & General) and other corporates (e.g. John Lewis Partnership) are piling into BTR hand over fist.

      This explains, according to some, the Government giving small/ independent landlords such a hard time (tax rules, S.21, EPCs etc): demoralising them and clearing them out of the way so their corporate mates can dominate the private rental sector.

      • Ian Kierans says:

        Small independent lanlords can easily set up Limited companies in partnership and receive the same breaks as other businesses. But you might find they do not want to do this as the operating margins of doing things by the correct regulations may cut into profit margins even more so than the inland revenue. Having viewed so many properties in Croydon and dealt with tenants issues I have seen few flats that fully adhere to the regulations and have yet to witness an environmental visit to a private property until some serious complaints and detriments had occurred.

        But outside Croydon there are very active councils and authorities and fewer dodgy landlords cutting corners.
        Pension funds after Labours raid and other unreasonable methods of milking them right through to Truss and the Bank of Englands spat have made it very difficult for funds to earn enought to pay pensions even the best ones are not making what they require and have little reserves.
        They normally do most investing in Commercial property and little in the residential market – but in this climate that is probably a safer area to go into to ensure some cash flow to meet payments. Perhaps even Croydon Councils own Pension fund may be also into that but that would be a question for Mr Pelling.

  2. Sarah Bird says:

    Given Grenfell how is the fire brigade supposed to deal with afire. The problems of high rise blocks are very clear. This includes Health problems. Years ago tower blocks were demolished due to health violence etc . Is there no end to Croydon Council’s failings ?

  3. SallyM says:

    Heather Cheesborough and her team will write a glowing planning report for another block of flats that will sit half empty. That area is so congested with traffic and will get worse. But these things don’t concern the witless planning department. Let’s see if Chris Clark, who has been happy to support overdevelopment everywhere else, will be happy to support it in his own backyard.

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