A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Croydon Council’s plans to build three gypsy/traveller sites in the Green Belt, allow housing on some of our precious green spaces and backgardens and completely change the character of parts of the borough
26/11/2015 13:28:00

Let me start by apologising for writing such a long blog, but the subject is a hugely important one.

The Council is currently consulting on the detailed policies and proposals that will make up the Croydon Local Plan. These policies will determine what kind of development takes place in your neighbourhood for the next twenty years and where it goes. The documents are over 700 pages long, but buried in the fine print are some proposals that, if approved, will in my opinion change the character of our area very much for the worse. We desperately need new housing, but it should be built on brownfield sites not our remaining precious green spaces.

I am writing in the hope that, if you agree with my assessment below, you’ll join me in objecting by writing to Jo Negrini, Executive Director (Place), Bernard Weatherill House, 8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA or emailing ldf@croydon.gov.uk. You need to do so by 18th December. I have broken the proposals down into four geographic areas:

• Shirley;

• Forestdale and Addington;

• New Addington; and

• Addiscombe and East Croydon

to make it easier for you to identify how your neighbourhood will be affected. Some policies apply across the whole borough, so you will notice some repetition if you read the whole blog. I have included the policy numbers and the reference numbers for particular sites, which you need to include in your objection.

SHIRLEY

It is Shirley that is worst affected by the Council’s proposals.

First, the Council plans to de-designate the Metropolitan Open Land on either side of Shirley Oaks Road and all around Shirley Oaks Village (page 68, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals). Metropolitan Open Land has the same protection from development as the Green Belt. The Council is proposing to remove this designation so that most of this land can be used for new housing. The draft Local Plan identifies five sites:

• the land at Poppy Lane is identified as suitable for 51 to 107 homes (pages 445-446, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 128);

• Stroud Green Pumping Station, 140 Primrose Lane, including the conversion of the locally-listed pumping station, is identified as suitable for 26 to 68 homes (pages 451-452, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 504);

• land to the east of Shirley Oaks Road and to the rear of Beech House and Ash House is identified as suitable for 80-215 homes (pages 453-454, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 541);

• land to the west of Shirley Oaks Road is identified as suitable for 88-236 homes (pages 455-456, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 542); and

• land to the rear of 5-13 Honeysuckle Gardens is identified as suitable for 59-125 homes (pages 457-458, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 548).

I will be objecting to the decision to de-designate this land as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). If the Council won’t keep it as MOL, it should at least designate it as Local Green Space so that it has some protection. I will also be objecting to any of these five sites being used for residential development. Not only would this entail the loss of a vital green corridor between Shirley Oaks and the surrounding areas, changing the character of the area, the local road infrastructure couldn’t cope with the additional traffic.

Second, the Council plans to build on under-used garages and open spaces on the Shrublands Estate. These sites are identified as suitable for 35 homes (pages 459-460, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 938).

I am happy for the Council to replace under-used garages with much-needed homes, but I will be objecting to building on precious open space.

Third, the Council has identified two locations on the edge of Shirley for gypsy/traveller sites:

• Coombe Farm off Oaks Road, which is identified as suitable for 15-20 pitches (pages 449-450, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 502); and

• Coombe Lodge Nurseries off Conduit Lane, which is identified as suitable for 15-25 pitches (pages 468-469, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 661).

I will be objecting to the use of either of these locations as gypsy/traveller sites. As the Council acknowledges, they are both in the Green Belt and one of them borders a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. Policy E of Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, published by the Government in August, says very clearly:

Traveller sites (temporary or permanent) in the Green Belt are inappropriate development”.

The Council’s approach is clearly in breach of that policy. Both sites are also some distance from public services. If the Council really needs, as it claims, to quadruple the number of gypsy/traveller sites in the borough - which I would question - they should look elsewhere (for example, off the Purley Way where the existing site is).

Fourth, the draft Local Plan identifies two other areas of Shirley as locations where the Council wants to see “focussed intensification associated with gradual change of area’s local character” under Policy DM31.4 (page 129, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals). It goes on to describe what this means:

“New development located in designated areas would be significantly larger than existing and may be associated with merging smaller properties. The promoted character types are: ‘Medium-rise blocks with associated grounds’, ‘Large buildings with spacing’ and ‘Large buildings with strong frontages’. Their gradual introduction will alter over time the predominant character of intensified areas” (page 132, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The two areas are the Shirley Road Shopping Parade and the Shirley local centre (the area around Shirley Library). The former is quite tightly drawn and I therefore don’t object to it, but the latter includes not just the Wickham Road itself but Ridgemount Avenue, Wickham Avenue, Peregrine Gardens, West Way Gardens, the northern section of Hartland Way and the western parts of Bennetts Way and Devonshire Way (page 166, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals). The idea that the largely semi-detached buildings in these residential roads should be replaced by medium-rise blocks is unacceptable - it would completely change the character of Shirley and I will be objecting to it very strongly.

Fifth, the Council’s proposed policy on development on garden land - Policy DM2 - is much too weak. London’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which forms the basis of London Plan housing targets, assumes that garden land will not be developed. However, the draft Croydon Local Plan says:

The Council will permit new dwellings or other development within the curtilage or garden of an existing dwelling or the redevelopment of existing dwellings and their curtilage or gardens where:

a) it will complement the local character; and

b) biodiversity is protected” (page 18, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The first of these two tests in particular is highly subjective and therefore very weak. I will be calling for Policy DM2 to include a much stronger presumption against development on garden land.

And finally, Policy DM28 of the draft Plan will allow developers to provide fewer parking spaces in areas of low public transport accessibility than the London Plan allows for.

The Council assumes that this will lead to fewer people owning their own car. In fact, it will lead to more and more pressure on on-street parking. I will be calling for Policy DM28 to allow higher levels of parking in developments in areas of low public transport accessibility.

FORESTDALE AND ADDINGTON

I am also concerned about some of the proposals for Forestdale and Addington.

The draft Local Plan identifies Pear Tree Farm and Pear Tree Farm Cottage on Featherbed Lane as a location for a gypsy/traveller site with 15-20 pitches (pages 188-189, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 755).

I will be objecting to this. The Council acknowledges that this site is in the Green Belt. Policy E of Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, published by the Government in August, says very clearly:

Traveller sites (temporary or permanent) in the Green Belt are inappropriate development”.

The Council’s approach is clearly in breach of that policy. The site is also some distance from public services. If the Council really needs, as it claims, to quadruple the number of gypsy/traveller sites in the borough - which I would question - they should look elsewhere (for example, off the Purley Way where the existing site is).

Equally concerning, the draft Plan identifies Forestdale as a location where the Council wants to see “focussed intensification associated with gradual change of area’s local character” under Policy DM31.4 (page 129, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals). It goes on to describe what this means:

New development located in designated areas would be significantly larger than existing and may be associated with merging smaller properties. The promoted character types are: ‘Medium-rise blocks with associated grounds’, ‘Large buildings with spacing’ and ‘Large buildings with strong frontages’. Their gradual introduction will alter over time the predominant character of intensified areas” (page 132, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The idea that the largely terraced housing and small blocks of flats in Forestdale should be replaced by medium-rise blocks is unacceptable - it would completely change the character of the area and I will be objecting to it very strongly.

Thirdly, the Council’s proposed policy on development on garden land - Policy DM2 - is much too weak. London’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which forms the basis of London Plan housing targets, assumes that garden land will not be developed. However, the draft Croydon Local Plan says:

The Council will permit new dwellings or other development within the curtilage or garden of an existing dwelling or the redevelopment of existing dwellings and their curtilage or gardens where:

a) it will complement the local character; and

b) biodiversity is protected” (page 18, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The first of these two tests in particular is highly subjective and therefore very weak. I will be calling for Policy DM2 to include a much stronger presumption against development on garden land.

And finally, Policy DM28 of the draft Plan will allow developers to provide fewer parking spaces in areas of low public transport accessibility than the London Plan allows for.

The Council assumes that this will lead to fewer people owning their own car. In fact, it will lead to more and more pressure on on-street parking. I will be calling for Policy DM28 to allow higher levels of parking in developments in areas of low public transport accessibility.

NEW ADDINGTON

There are also proposals which will change New Addington for the worse.

Policy DM32.1b says the Council will welcome applications that:

.. create buildings with smaller footprints that complement existing predominant building heights of 3 storeys up to 12 storeys within Central Parade” (p.133, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The document goes on to say:

Additional policies are required to manage the area to the west of Central Parade where there are precedents of large and tall buildings. This location presents opportunities for growth through the creation of large or tall buildings” (ibid.).

It identifies this site as suitable for 50 to 290 homes (pages 181-183, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 44).

While I do want to see the regeneration of the western side of Central Parade, I don’t believe 12-storey tower blocks are appropriate nor do I think this is what the people of New Addington want. I will therefore be objecting to this policy.

Another proposal that concerns me is the de-designation of Green Belt to the west of Timebridge Community Centre and the east of Lodge Lane (most people refer to this site as Rowdown Fields) so that it can be used for a new secondary school (pages 186-187, Changes to the Policies Map arising from proposals contained within the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies Partial Review and the Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies & Proposals, reference number 636).

We certainly need additional secondary school places in certain parts of the borough, but there isn’t a shortage of secondary school places in the New Addington area. I will therefore be objecting to the de-designation of this land as Green Belt and the use of this site for a secondary school.

Thirdly, the Council’s proposed policy on development on garden land - Policy DM2 - is much too weak. London’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which forms the basis of London Plan housing targets, assumes that garden land will not be developed. However, the draft Croydon Local Plan says:

The Council will permit new dwellings or other development within the curtilage or garden of an existing dwelling or the redevelopment of existing dwellings and their curtilage or gardens where:

a) it will complement the local character; and

b) biodiversity is protected” (page 18, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The first of these two tests in particular is highly subjective and therefore very weak. I will be calling for Policy DM2 to include a much stronger presumption against development on garden land.

And finally, Policy DM28 of the draft Plan will allow developers to provide fewer parking spaces in areas of low public transport accessibility than the London Plan allows for.

The Council assumes that this will lead to fewer people owning their own car. In fact, it will lead to more and more pressure on on-street parking. I will be calling for Policy DM28 to allow higher levels of parking in developments in areas of low public transport accessibility.

ADDISCOMBE AND EAST CROYDON

My main concern about the proposals for Addiscombe and East Croydon is that the Council isn’t amending its tall buildings policy. When the Menta planning application for a 50+ storey tower on Cherry Orchard Road was approved by the previous Conservative Council, both Labour councillors and I agreed that very tall buildings weren’t appropriate on this site. However, now that they are running the Council those same councillors haven’t changed the Council’s policy.

I will be calling on the Council to amend its tall buildings policy so that the tallest buildings have to be in the centre of town, not right on the edge of the tall buildings zone next to two-storey residential housing.

Secondly, the Council’s proposed policy on development on garden land - Policy DM2 - is much too weak. London’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which forms the basis of London Plan housing targets, assumes that garden land will not be developed. However, the draft Croydon Local Plan says:

The Council will permit new dwellings or other development within the curtilage or garden of an existing dwelling or the redevelopment of existing dwellings and their curtilage or gardens where:

a) it will complement the local character; and

b) biodiversity is protected” (page 18, Croydon Local Plan Detailed Policies & Proposals).

The first of these two tests in particular is highly subjective and therefore very weak. I will be calling for Policy DM2 to include a much stronger presumption against development on garden land.

And finally, Policy DM28 of the draft Plan will allow developers to provide fewer parking spaces in areas of low public transport accessibility than the London Plan allows for.

The Council assumes that this will lead to fewer people owning their own car. In fact, it will lead to more and more pressure on on-street parking. I will be calling for Policy DM28 to allow higher levels of parking in developments in areas of low public transport accessibility.

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG