Developers face £20m bill to under-pin East Croydon towers

After four very tall towers have recently been erected opposite East Croydon Station, residents are questioning whether three more will be too many, reports BARRATT HOLMES, housing correspondent

Quid pro quo: the provision of an NHS centre and £20m on engineering the site may reduce the developers’ community contributions

The developers of the latest 775-flat residential scheme proposed for Croydon town centre, on the College Green site, will need to spend at least £20million to reinforce the podium on which their three blocks are to stand between the Fairfield Halls and Croydon College.

The cost of the massive engineering project, effectively under-pinning the residential blocks that are to be built in part over a closed underground car park, emerged at a public consultation session staged on behalf of the developers last night.

Croydon Council has kicked around its scheme for “Fair Field”, a public open space next to the arts centre, for several years (it was one of Paul Scott’s design wet dreams, which allowed him to squander tens of thousands of pounds of council cash on his architect mates).

Most of the plans put forward for the open space, especially those involving fountains, lakes and tall, mature trees, seemed to fail to take into account the subterranean challenges of the site. Those open space proposals have in any case been placed on hold after the council, thanks to Brick by Brick, ex-Councillor Scott and his mates, bankrupted the borough. 

Sketchy: how Delta Properties plan to open up access between Fairfield Halls and Croydon College

House-builders, when proposing building three residential blocks, the tallest of 38 storeys, have to take a more practical approach, hence the consideration of the plan to reinforce the podium.

Delta Properties acquired the site from Croydon Council in the fire sale of assets conducted immediately after the authority’s financial collapse, for a price thought to be less than £25million. Delta is proposing almost twice as many homes for the site than was previously approved in an aborted Brick by Brick scheme.

Based on current market prices, the sale value of the 775 homes should be more than £200million.

Nevertheless, it seems likely that in discussions with the local planning authority, the need to spend £20million just to make the site viable will be factored in to the amount of affordable housing the developers are expected to provide, or the quantum of infrastructure levy cash they are asked to provide.

Massive massing: the view today from Park Hill towards East Croydon. Delta want to add another three blocks to this vista

According to representatives at last night’s consultation, the amount of affordable housing to be provided (most likely as unaffordable shared ownership homes) has not yet been determined.

The developers also seem likely to make the case that they are “doing their bit” for the local community by delivering a NHS clinic as part of the build. The developers have had discussions with the NHS nationally, though it is unclear whether a GP practice on this site could be accommodated in local NHS budgets.

If Delta are given the green light for their plans, the 775 flats will bring the total of new homes either completed or in the development pipeline for the town centre close to 5,000 – and that’s all before Westfield get round to delivering their own “masterplan” for the Whitgift Centre and Centrale.

In the developers’ pre-application consultation with Croydon Council, they were persuaded to reduce the height of their tallest tower by a single storey, over planners’ concerns about the massing view from Park Hill recreation ground and nearby homes.

Under the proposals – “inspired by Boxpark”, apparently – nearly one-third of the homes will be provided with car parking spaces (which means that 500 homes won’t have a parking space on site), while the pedestrian route through from the Fairfield Halls to East Croydon Station, which was lost in the demolition of the Arnhem Screen, is to be restored.

Read more: Council puts hotel and College Green up for sale for just £40m
Read more: What will the ‘new’ Westfield deal really mean for Croydon?

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2 Responses to Developers face £20m bill to under-pin East Croydon towers

  1. Sally says:

    With Director of Cramming and Retrogradation, Cheesborough in charge, I can see a sinkhole coming.

  2. Lewis White says:

    Hang on, surely you don’t build a block of tall flats on top of an existing podium?

    Don’t they normally drill holes tens of metres into the solid ground, with auger boring rigs, to make a series of holes into which foundation piles are cast, which are extended up as the support columns? Or they drive piled foundations into the clay.

    Or are the new blocks actually going to be made of lightweight alloy ? Recycled saucepans and frying pans perhaps, made redundant by modern electric induction hobs? All stacked up on top of the reinforced concrete deck on top of the undergorund car park. I can see the publicity blurb now !…………….

    “The first residential block in the World made of recycled kitchen ware ! ”

    That would indeed be a first for Croydon !

    Ah well, maybe I am wrong. However, I do know that the IC article is quite right about cost of building or renewing an open landscaped area on top of a concrete roof deck over an underground car park. It is neither easy nor or cheap to do.

    Regarding the Fairfield Open space, aka College Green , aka “The Fair Field”, it should more accurately be called “Coll. Grn” or “F’field Open Spc.” as its area is now about two-thirds of its original size.

    In the drawing in the Inside Croydon article, subtitled “Sketchy”, in felt pen someone has written “LEVEL ACCESS”, and “Fairfield Landscape” with a red line between the latter, and the adjacent narrow portion of the cross hatched redevelopment site area.

    The narrower bit, whre ACCESS is written, used to be part of the Green, almost up to the end of the Collge building. This is the approx 1/3 or 1/4 that has been snipped off the former extent of the gardens

    Under the Fairfield masterplan, there was some mention that part of the main body of the Green would be taken away, and lumped in with the redevelopment site of the multi storey car park. However, it was not exactly clear that they would take away this area of the Green, at the back (East) end of the open space.

    I realised that this was quite a chunk of space to lose, especally now that the whole area between the Green and East Croydon station has become a “Mini Manhattan” in its own right. During Covid, people really needed green space in which to escape from their four walls. It sems a great pity that thuis area of the Green, which could have been a simple grass area for people to use for sun bathing on the grass, has been taken away.

    Looking forward, I have no clue as to what is happening to the Open Space.
    There was quite a lot right with the old design, some good ideas about including skateboarding, but also, quite a lot wrong.

    The water feature –which is still shown on the sketch above– is the round shape under the words Fairfield Landscape.

    Potentially, if it were designed really simply, it could provide a fountain “spash Zone” for the children to enjoy, and become a wonderful place for families to come– like a Croydon beach — in Summer– and cool off, and have fun in the water jets. Just as they do to at More London by Tower Bridge.

    There was mention of creation of a landscaped walkway to link the Open space with the nearby proper “Park” of Water Tower Hill on the East side of the main road.

    This is still shown in the sketch plan above, between the Fairfield hall and the Croydon Court building.

    I look forward to hearing/ seeing what is planned for the Open Space when ever the proposals resurface.

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