This evening, Croydon Council's Strategic Planning Committee is going to decide whether to approve or reject major planning applications for three key sites in the town centre:
- the Stanhope/Schroders scheme for the land to west of East Croydon station, a mixed use scheme incorporating buildings of between 4 and 20 storeys;
- a 17-storey building on the site of the former Essex House on George Street; and
- the Menta scheme for the land to the east of East Croydon station along Cherry Orchard Road, a mixed use scheme incorporating a 53-storey tower.
The decisions the Committee takes tonight will have a major impact both on how the town centre develops and on the wider reputation of the town. The Stanhope/Schroders site in particular has lain empty for years and gives a very poor impression of the town when visitors arrive at East Croydon station.
This part of the town centre is in urgent need of regeneration and I support the Council's plan to allow intensive development here to reduce the pressure for backland development elsewhere in the borough which has done so much to damage the character of some residential areas (think for example of Orchard Avenue, The Glade and Orchard Way).
But that does not mean that we should accept anything that is proposed. Good town planning entails have the tallest buildings in the middle of the town centre and a gradual phasing down to the edge of the town centre and surrounding two storey residential housing. What Menta is proposing would involve building the tallest building in Croydon right on the edge of the town centre next to two-storey residential housing. That is why I have objected to this application, despite the fact that it has some merits, and why I will be attending the meeting tonight. If you feel strongly about this, I would encourage you to come along too. The meeting is held at the Town Hall and starts at 6.30pm.