Information is scant, but it appears that the Lion Green Road redevelopment in Coulsdon has hit the rocks.
The Labour-controlled Council is not being forthcoming with the details of the failure of the development, which is a shame given their pretence at being 'open and transparent'. Here is what we know from the Council press office:
- The council will no longer be progressing the proposed development of the Lion Green Road site, in Coulsdon in its current form.
- The decision was made following agreement with the developer that the current project was no longer viable.
- The council claims to be still committed to developing the site and says it is currently exploring alternative development options. They say they remain in discussion with Waitrose who (according to the council) are still 'keen to be part of the scheme'.
But only in November, a Council spokesperson said that there would be "no delay" in the development of the site following the discovery of ancient remains and the understandable need for them to be investigated.
What happened in the following months has not been revealed by Croydon Council. It should not be unreasonable for the Council to tell ward councillors and residents why and how the collapse of the scheme was allowed to happen; when they first learned the scheme had failed and what they urgently plan on doing about it.
Chris Philp MP and the local Councillors have asked for the car park to be opened up as soon as possible to mitigate the impact that this development has had on the businesses and residents of Coulsdon. Short-term pain for long-term gain is understandable, but with this administration potentially failing with this development it seems there is lots of pain and no gain for my residents. We have been told that the whole car park cannot apparently be opened because of the archaeological discovery and they cannot at this stage guarantee that the car park will be re-opened at all. This is simply unacceptable.
Questions to consider:
- The Council issued a press release of 14th July 2015 which states ‘The car park will close on 19th July with work beginning the following day’. Why did work not start as promised on 20th July? What changed between the 14th and 20th of July 2015?
- Were the Council aware of any potential viability issues when the car park was closed on 19th July? Or following confirming to the Croydon Advertiser in November that there was 'no delay' in the development? If so, then when did it first become aware of a problem?
- How long will it take to develop new plans? Does the Council have any initial thoughts about what will happen with the site?
As ever, ward councillors will update their blog as and when new information is released.
What is particularly alarming about the failure of this scheme is the parallels with the situation with Fairfield Halls. In Coulsdon the council closed the car park, saying it was imminently to start work on delivering the new plan. It clearly did not have a viable scheme in place when it did so, because no work was ever done. The scheme collapsed, leaving residents with nothing.
With Fairlfield Halls the council plans to close it from June, despite not having the support of the Fairfield's management, having no viable scheme in place - and on this occasion, not even planning permission, let alone the funding or a developer. We have been warning that with this council's record of spectacular failure in delivery of key projects, the same fate might befall Fairfield Halls as has befallen Lion Green Road. That would be a disaster for Croydon.