Key document withheld from planning scrutiny for 21 months

STEVE WHITESIDE with an update on how the council’s planners and planning enforcement teams continue to fail the borough’s residents, while turning a blind eye to developers ignoring conditions

Going…: 158 Purley Downs has been demolished despite planning conditions laid down by the council not being met

Last month, I wrote about the sad saga of 158 Purley Downs Road in Sanderstead, where the demolition of a family house by a developer keen to replace it with seven money-spinning new homes has gone ahead without key conditions laid down by the borough’s planning committee being met – or even close to being met.

It is a prime example of how the council’s professional planners seem to go out of their way to assist some development firms.

In the past few days, the applicant – which was originally developers New Place Associates and HTA Design, both of whom have well-documented links to senior members of the Croydon Council planning stafffinally disclosed a topographical survey of the site, including levels to the land adjacent.

It is dated August 2021.

What this suggests is that the inaccurate streetscenes produced by architects Harp and Harp, and relied upon entirely by the planners in their assessment of the impact on the character of the area, on adjoining properties and on the promised step-free access were produced without the benefit of a proper survey.

Council-approved: the letter sent by Nicola Townsend last week

What the survey shows is that since August 2021, Harp and Harp have (or should have) known that the “red line” boundary to the development as had been approved by the council’s planning committee was inaccurate. They (or New Place Associates, or HTA Design) had ample opportunity to advise the council of this before Nicola Townsend approved the application (21/01619/FUL) in February 2022.

If they did, perhaps they could tell us when?

With regard to “sustainable drainage”, the now-approved surface water drainage strategy does not comply with the adopted development policies, as was anticipated in earlier objections from residents and residents’ associations.

There will be, at best, only very limited infiltration of water into the ground. The over-development of the site does not leave adequate space for the necessary underground tanks. This is a recurring issue on the redevelopment of these “small sites”, where gardens, front and back, are being concreted over as developers seek to maximise the number of homes they build, and therefore their profits.

As an aside, the now-approved “Proposed Surface Water Drainage Layout” (8454/501A) is based on a site layout that still shows steps up to the corner unit. The developer clearly has no intention of complying with planning policy in this regard either.

Meanwhile, planning enforcement have taken no action and are once again failing to deliver.

Read more: Demolition shows how council’s planners have no ‘red lines’
Read more: How the council’s planners help developers dodge conditions
Read more: Suspicions over secrecy surrounding Slominski’s return
Read more: Council in cover-up over planning’s husband and wife act

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9 Responses to Key document withheld from planning scrutiny for 21 months

  1. Claire says:

    Whether it’s through incompetence or worse (or both) Croydon’s planning system is corrupted. Nicola Townsend, Heather Cheesborough and Ross Gentry’s incompetence have been exposed over and over again. They should not be in receipt of their significant tax-payer funded salaries. That department needs cleaning up urgently.

  2. Sue says:

    this is not just old fashioned incompetence. Heather Cheesbrough, head of planning, does not particularly like the public, especially the ones who live in Kenley and Purley. She enjoys ignoring their emails and letters, she enjoys over-ruling them in matters of planning enforcement. Now that the corrosive document she wrote, called SPD2, that gave a green light to all developers, has been shredded, she even more so wants to stick the knife in and slowly twist it – a public servant who hates the public. she has to go.

    • Wayne says:

      Both Kerswell and Perry know that Heather Cheesborough made statements that were untrue – likewise Ross Gentry. Nicola Townsend allows planning reports to be published that are, frankly, fabrication and that the planners have withheld documents that showed a development failed policy. In turning a blind eye to it, they are complicit. It’s now likely to be taken out of their hands.

  3. Henry says:

    The Head of Brick by Brick needs to be accountable. Where is Lacey now?

  4. John Kohl says:

    If a local authority won’t enforce planning conditions that it has imposed on a planning permission, what can affected neighbours do to make them?

    Does it mean asking the courts to do something?

  5. miapawz says:

    How can the citizens of Croydon defend themselves against this planning department and it’s inabilty to operate within the law and it’s own rules?

    • Winsome says:

      What is a charge of misconduct in public office called?
      Misfeasance is a form of misconduct, and it occurs when a public official, public servant or public body knowingly and willingly acts to cause loss or harm to a third party.

      • Wayne says:

        I raised misfeasance with Katherine Kerswell. She didn’t investigate, or take any action, or indeed reply. She did spend taxpayers’ money getting solicitors to write to me to say they would oppose any action I tried to take.

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