On Friday, I visited Cane Hill Park to see, first hand, the desperately needed new homes that Barratt Homes are building there.
The 205-acre site was previously home to Cane Hill Psychiatric Hospital, which opened in 1882. At one time, it housed approximately 2,000 patients but numbers declined as public policy shifted to people with mental health problems being cared for in the community and it was closed in 1991 apart from a small secure unit, which closed down in 2008. Most of the buildings were then demolished and others were destroyed by a fire in 2010, but it's good to see the water tower and chapel have been preserved.
I know the site well because before I became the MP for Croydon Central in May 2010 I represented Coulsdon West ward on Croydon Council for 12 years. During that time, the site was a constant source of concern to local residents both because the NHS considered significantly expanding the number of people held in the secure unit and because people would periodically break into the site and start fires. It's therefore great to see it being redeveloped. I was particularly pleased to see Barratt offering the Government's Help to Buy scheme, under which the Government lends you up to 40% of the cost of your newly built home and you aren't charged loan fees for the first five years so you only need to find a 5% cash deposit (59% of the homes sold so far have been sold using Help to Buy).
I also met staff from BT Openreach, who showed me the work they are doing to ensure the new homes that are being built have a fibre broadband connection before anyone moves in. This is something my predecessors as Housing Minister have had lots of complaints about so it's great to see that they're raising their game.