Save our space - objection to Brick by Brick's Holmesdale Road development 20/02722/FUL

Save our space - objection to Brick by Brick's Holmesdale Road development 20/02722/FUL

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Frances Wright started this petition to Steve Reed (MP, Croydon North) and

Planning application 20/02722/FUL

We are writing to you, as our local MP, to express the magnitude of concern and opposition the local residents have to the proposed Brick by Brick (BBB) development of 89 new flats on Holmesdale Road between Ely and Wisbeach Road, CR0.  Whilst we fully support Croydon Council's efforts to provide more affordable housing, we are concerned that the Holmesdale Road proposal is not proportionate to its setting or sustainable in the long term and action must be taken.

As you will see from the Common Place website (referenced on their enclosed public consultation document), BBB claim this is the third time they have consulted with the community.  However, as local residents, some less than 50 metres from the proposed site, we received no such communications and were unaware this development was taking place until 29/04/2020.  Awareness was then raised amongst residents by way of the enclosed neighbourhood flyer.  It is our assertion, the proposed development, particularly the 12-storey block, is in breach of Policies SP4, DM15 and DM36 of the Local Croydon Plan as well as the London Planning Policy, as it does not respect nor enhance the local character of Selhurst - predominantly terraced houses and cottages. Nor is it in context with the height of the surrounding buildings, which are “predominant 2-storeys up to maximum 4-storeys”. As this area has not been included in the Croydon Opportunity area outlined in DM38, the tall building proposal clearly disregards the council’s strategic planning for the Selhurst ward and the daylight and sunlight assessment shows a detrimental impact to the existing flats, we feel it should not be allowed to progress.

Given the number and size of the new dwellings in a 0.6 hectare area, we feel this particular development will result in overcrowding and anti-social behaviour. The area already suffers from fly tipping and drug dealing, which has been pushed towards the east side of the railway tracks due to the absence of any CCTV installations in that area. Whilst 11 of the new flats will be shared ownership, the remaining 78 will be affordable rent which will only intensify the problems with a significant uplift in tenancies. We feel that Croydon Council should uphold their responsibilities and address these issues, as well as the lack of green space for local residents, without further straining the area.

It is worth noting that there is no inclusion for off-street parking, which should be a key typological feature of a proposal of this size, and means there will be more cars on the street. The area is already overcrowded with vehicles, exacerbated by train commuters parking on the streets surrounding the station, local mechanics storing vehicles on the street, and the traffic from Crystal Palace Football Club home games.  On page 7 of the associated Transport Assessment there is only 16% on-street parking available and this has not made mention of the traffic on Crystal Palace game days.

The “Insidecroydon.com” website details serious allegations that BBB developments are not subject to the same planning scrutiny as independent private developers, and therefore contravene the intention and democratic nature of the planning process. Our understanding is that, as BBB is wholly-owned by the Council, there are unresolved issues of transparency and probity causing public disquiet regarding the intertwined nature of Croydon Council members and BBB.  Where there is a lack of separation of duties between the developer and Council, there is a conflict of interest resulting in none of the BBB planning applications being rejected by the Council’s planning committee.

In the Financial Viability Assessment, Carter Jonas the applicants’ Quantity Surveyors, explain that as “the residual land value [for this scheme] is lower than the benchmark land value then the scheme is not technically viable” (page 5). They conclude the scheme is “challenging in viability terms…delivering an overall deficit” (page 20).  From this point alone the scheme should be cancelled because it is not viable.  Also, as rate payers, we are opposed to the use of Council money to forward fund this development. ‘Inside Croydon’ has also reported a lack of profit from other BBB developments which are contributing towards Croydon Council’s long term liabilities of £1,825,601,000.00 (£1.8 billion) shown in their audited accounts to 31st March 2020.

We will be registering our objections on the Council planning portal, but as we have no confidence in the planning process we are concerned these will not be taken seriously.  We would like to work with you to address the undemocratic issues outlined above to restore fairness to Croydon’s planning process.  Our plan of action is:

1)        To ask you to write to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol asking them to object to the planning application.  We enclose a copy of the letter written by Florence Eshalomi MP for a different application by way of example.  We will be able to give you many instances of where the policies in the National Planning Policy, London Plan and Croydon Local Plan are being ignored on this application.

2)        With 100,000 signatures we intend to apply to the Petitions Committee for a debate in Parliament as we are aware these kind of issues are of national concern.

3)        We intend to approach the press to gain greater public awareness.

Would it be possible for our group leaders (Ms Frances Wright and Mr Kevin Spurling) to meet with you to discuss how we can work together to prevent this and other unviable developments?

You will see from the signatures and attached comments below (both in person and via Change.org) the significant support this letter has already received.

We look forward to hearing from you.   

Kind regards,

Cc Toni Letts; David Wood

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