Residents backlash over Perry’s 200-flat scheme at Purley pool

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Even the usually placid residents associations in the south of the borough have begun to realise that they were sold a pup by Jason Perry over the fate of the leisure centre at Purley, where the Conservative Mayor is now backing another £100m residential development. By STEVEN DOWNES

Piss-poor: Mayor Jason Perry has yet to open the pool in his back garden to the Croydon public

Jason Perry, the Tory Mayor of Croydon who has his own swimming pool in the garden of his £1.3million mansion, wants to keep the residents of Purley and the south of the borough waiting for at least three years before they will see the opening of their leisure centre.

When he was running for election as Mayor, Perry claimed he could get Purley Pool and leisure centre re-opened with a “fully costed” and funded £3million plan. He even repeated that boast as recently as July 2022.

But Katharine Street sources have confirmed that Perry, from his time as a mere member of the council cabinet, will have been fully aware of a confidential internal council report from 2013 that said that Purley Pool would be too costly to repair and reopen.

Certainly, the site owners have had plans to develop the site for housing for even longer, which is why council officials blocked or vetoed even modest spending on the leisure centre and adjoining multi-storey car park.

Piss-poor Perry is now backing the private developers’ scheme that includes a 12-storey skyscraper and around 245 retirement flats, worth an estimated £100million. As a planning “benefit”, the developers Polaska, say that they will provide a new pool and leisure centre, though that won’t be ready much before 2026.

A first round of consultation events for the proposals has already taken place, with further “workshops” planned for next week.

Closed: Purley leisure centre has been shut since March 2020, the adjacent Sainsbury’s supermarket has stood empty for a decade longer

But residents’ groups in the south of the borough, usually unflinchingly loyal to the Tory cause, have begun to wake up to the reality that Perry and some of his senior councillors – “the Beavis and Butt-Head of Croydon Town Hall”, as one council figure described Conservative councillors Jeet Bains and Simon Brew – either chose to ignore the internal council briefings, or simply lied to get elected.

And the residents are not too impressed with the tall towers alternative being offered now for the already heavily developed Purley town centre. “Piss-poor Perry has sold Purley a pup over his plans for a pool,” was how one long-standing member of a residents’ association put it to Inside Croydon this week.

The latest emailed newsletter from HADRA, the Hartley and District Residents’ Association, made no attempt to hide their scepticism over a scheme that is now being foisted on the community.

“On the surface, we too were excited to hear of the possibility of the pool finally being re-opened,” HADRA’s official email began.

“However, after attending the presentation and digging a bit deeper into the proposed development, a number of local residents’ associations, including HADRA, have expressed concerns.

“HADRA wrote to the developer on June 23 seeking answers to a few questions, but as yet, they have refused to engage with us.” Inside Croydon’s questions to the developers’ agents have also been ignored. So  much for “consultation”.

Site plan: residents’ associations are concerned that another 200 flats in Purley town centre will be overdevelopment

“Do we want a pool in Purley?” HADRA asks. “Absolutely we do! But at what cost?

Did you know – that at 12 storeys high, this is only a few storeys less than the Purley Baptist Church complex which was so bitterly resented by many of our residents?

Did you know – that a second 12-storey building in the centre of Purley is contrary to the council’s own Croydon Local Plan?

Did you know – that Purley Multi-storey Carpark will be demolished to make room for the pool, with a loss of 424 car parking spaces? How would you imagine this would impact local businesses and commuters?

Did you know – that the plans will give back only 12per cent of those parking spaces, yet there will be increased demand for parking from the pool and leisure centre users?

“Did you know – that there are plans to build over 200 ‘older person’ apartments above the pool, yet there’s no provision for additional medical facilities in the already stretched Purley area?

“Clearly there are questions which remain unanswered regarding this development, such as why funding for the works could not come from unallocated Community Infrastructure Levy as promised by the council in July 2022, instead of building yet more apartments.

“We hope the developers will respond to our questions soon so that we can continue to update our members on this proposal.” Or HADRA might want to ask the Tory Mayor, that they did so much to get elected, to provide some of the answers.

Even the Save the Purley Pool campaigners, who for so long thought that they had the support of Perry and the local MP, Chris Philp, have begun to sound a little less gullable.

Drawing board: remember when developers came up with pretty diagrams of the new Westfield shopping mall…?

In an email from the campaign’s Richard Willmer this week, they said, “The council has not provided details and costings as to why re-opening the existing pool is no longer viable as this was, until recently, still under consideration.”

They are a tad kind to Perry when they describe his election pledge to re-open the pool as “implicit”.

They go on: “At Save Purley Pool, we see the merits of the proposal, but believe it will be important for the council to hold the developers to account for delivery of the new centre, in particular the new 25-metre pool, to time.

“The last thing we want is a demolished or unfinished development in Purley. We are also aware that, even if a new centre is delivered to the proposed timetable, Purley will have been without a pool for at least six years…

“We will be focusing on the early development of the new leisure centre and pool, but hope the proposal generally can give the widest possible benefit to boost Purley [town] centre.”

The 2023 reality, however, is all a very long way away from the Tories’ “implicit” promises. Or what the Tories call “an absolutely firm, unequivocal commitment” to reopen the pool.

Even as recently as November 2021, Croydon Conservatives were using Purley Pool as an election pawn.

“It has been fantastic to hear… that mayoral candidate Jason Perry as firmly committed to re-opening this vital facility in Purley,” a page from the Croydon Conservatives’ website of just 18 months ago states.

“It’s about time the council started listening to the whole of Croydon, rather than punishing the areas they do not like.”

They even offered a video of Beavis and Butt-head, Bains and Brew, inspecting the facilities and coming to the conclusion that they could open it all very quickly, and at minimal cost.

“Over the weekend, Cllr Simon Brew and Shadow Cabinet Member Jeet Bains visited Purley Pool… We were shown around by managers from GLL, the company that runs the site, as well as an ex-general manager of Purley Pool.

“Whilst some cosmetic issues need to be fixed, as well as mending the ventilation system, it was quite heartening to see that the condition of the pool system was functioning – and in the case of a couple of the pumps, completely brand new!

“We do not see any reason why it should cost £3million to open this pool, despite Croydon Labour arguing that this is the case.”

And they encourage readers to “Watch the video to see what we found inside!”

In case you missed out on that opportunity at the time, Inside Croydon is delighted to give another airing to Bains and Brew, aka Beavis and Butt-head, finding only “cosmetic issues” with Purley Pool…

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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
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, GLL - Better, Jeet Bains, Leisure services, Mayor Jason Perry, Purley, Purley Pool, Simon Brew, Swimming. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Residents backlash over Perry’s 200-flat scheme at Purley pool

  1. Peter Underwood says:

    The Conservatives’ election claim that they would re-open Purley Pool never made any sense and was clearly nothing more than a headline for their leaflets.

    Now we have Mayor Perry promising that Purley Pool will be demolished and rebuilt by a private developer. Over ten years ago the Conservatives promised that the Whitgift Centre would be demolished and rebuilt by a private developer – and we all know how well that is going.

    To be fair, Labour in Croydon have an equally long list of failures and broken promises on both projects.

    During the election campaign for Mayor it was clear that people wanted the pool re-opened. It was clear to me that the Council’s finances were in a dreadful state, and so I said it would be wrong for me to promise to re-open the pool when I knew that I couldn’t guarantee it would be delivered.

    Croydon residents have my full sympathy for how they have been treated and lied to by both Conservatives and Labour over the years. And I will continue to offer an alternative way of doing politics.

    The question for residents is do you want honesty or will you just vote for more false promises?

  2. Hazel swain says:

    If Purley residents think their town centre is over developed they should look at whats been done to Croydon Town Centre.. now THATS over development and the local residents objected to that too and got nowhere. We now have to live in the shadow of Blade Runner City. .

  3. This should make things easier for Labour’s Ben Taylor at the forthcoming General Election. Croydon South Tories won’t take too kindly to being betrayed by Mayor Perry, who failed to mention this development at his soiree last Sunday, where his guests included party activists, councillors and MPs Chris Philp and Greg Hands (but not Mario Creatura or Gavin Barwell?)

  4. Sarah Bird says:

    What is Chris Philp MP saying about this ? Did he not say he would fight to ensure the pool was reopened? Now is the time for the Mayor to hold an open meeting so he can be questioned by the residents with the press in attendance. Chris Philp should attend as this pool is in his constituency .Let’s hear what they have to say. Many of the flats in Croydon remain unsold . Is that not a sign?

    • Brian Matthews says:

      But our Beloved Leader has made clear that he will not answer questions on this and related topics in public – did he not suggest that emails would be best (and we can guess how well that will go!)?

      In addition to the pool, answers are also needed on how the very large reduction in parking spaces is intended to improve use of Purley town centre (hopefully not getting the ‘helpful’ suggestion to use the station car park that I received earlier).

  5. Disillusioned says:

    Very poor from our Mayor. I guess it’s all around his house for a dip in the pool!

    I wouldn’t even put him and his cronies in charge of a school sweet shop.

  6. Mohammed says:

    #perryspool – let’s invite ourselves around. Untrue to say Save Purley Pool campaigners are gullible. In fact quite the opposite.

  7. Lewis White says:

    Having attended the original consultation event, and visted the stret stall a few ays later, I signed up for the second session where, along with others, I took part in three detailed workshops, one on the design of the individual flats and their settings, plus one on the pool and leisure design, and one on the landscape / public realm design, .

    The presenters were, respectively, the Principal architect (who was a Director of the architects), a senior Architect, and the Landscape architect. The Principal Director or practice owner was also part of the public realm session. He is an Urban designer and Planner. There was also a Planner from the design team.

    This was a great opportunity to talk directly with the team– and it was clear, that the public had many , many very good questions– and also, ideas to contribute.

    The people who presented these 15 minute sessions, much of which was devoted to detailed questioning from the participants, and responses, were open, thoughtful, and genuine.

    I really feel that the sessions were very good– very different from some consultations I have attended where difficult questions remained unanswered.

    It was a discussion, not only a presentation.

    Essentially, the development provides a new concept in urban living for over 50’s , with a mix of flats of 1 , 2 and 3 bedrooms, with some special 1 bed units for people with “memory issues”. It would have an atrium and communal areas and fitness suites for residents, plus a roof garden, and restaurants open both to residents and members.

    On the ground would be the landscapoed entrance open space, leading to the public pool (25 metre by 6 lane) and training pool, plus a large gym, and public cafe, plus a “commercial space” fronting the High Street. As now, there would be a puboic fdootpath from Whytecliffe Road to the High Street.

    Local residents were realistic that this has long been a nasty, urine stained, potential “a.s.b. paradise”. I think that the design team took real note of the need to design this area to make it open and easy to oversee.

    The design team responded thoughtfully and positively to the questions and points made, some of which (in my group) were posed by a retired construction professional with clearly a great deal of deep direct experience in development of living places for older people.

    There was a Primary teacher who formerly brought whole classes of children from Coulsdon to the old pool on the no 60 bus ! She mentioned that they had tried to go to Waddon, but that the journey was impossibly long, also involving a change of bus at Purley. A nightmare with a large group of children, and a total no-no in all respects.

    It was clear that we all felt that Purley is THE ONLY logical place for a Pool to serve the whole South of the Borough.

    My feeling was and remains that the design team were very open to taking on board the collective wisdom of the participants. It has given them a really valuable “steer” for the next stages of the design development.

    Clearly, for some participants, the substantial reduction car parking is an issue, as is the height of the tower portion. I think we all acknowledged that the current car park is very empty nowadays.

    It was clear that the designers had placed the tower portion of the development in the SE coner of the site, where it would not overshadow the low rise existing housing to the North

    The “deal” will be that the pool and Lesiure centre are built first–and opened in advance–of the upper floors being built. I think that the aim is to open the pool in 2026.

    I went away from the session feeling happy that the afternoon had been productive, that the designers had taken on board the insights that we the public were giving them.

    I am confident that they will create a building that would be far, far better for Purley and Purley High Street than the current building ever was.

    One suggestion from a fellow member of the Public was that she felt that the Purley Public Library should be moved to the new development, so that it could be co-located with the new pool and leisure centre on the ground floor. A brilliant idea, which met favour from the residents I was with, a really creative idea which I myself hope is taken on board by the Council and Developer.

    I look forward to the next stage of the design.

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