Cllr Jason Perry, Conservative Spokesperson for Economic Regeneration, explains Croydon Conservatives' position on the redevelopmen of Fairfield Halls:
Most residents of Croydon want to see the rejuvenation of the Fairfield Halls and College Green in central Croydon.
We all want to see:-
- a Fairfield for the future;
- a college fit for purpose that can expand and aspire to be a university;
- a green space that works for all;
- permeability N-S, E-W;
- and the introduction of residential to not only help towards our housing targets but also to give a new lease of life to our town centre.
However, how we get there is a matter of contention.
The scheme and proposals that the Labour Council recently brought to the Planning Committee went some way towards delivering those aspirations.
However, the scheme is not good enough for the Fairfield Halls, not good enough for Croydon College and not good enough for the quality of life of those people that we expect to live, work and play there.
There is simply too much being squeezed into this site.
We keep saying that we want the best quality for Croydon, sadly this scheme does not provide that quality – rather it proposes some second rate fixes in order to overcome the constraints of the site, in particular block 4 and 5 where daylight and sunlight conditions will be below standard and block 3 which has inadequate play space. The design is far from exhilarating and does not exude quality.
The proposals for the re-provision of the College on a smaller site are concerning if the College wishes to pursue its ambitions as a university.
The proposals for the back of house changes that are so vital to the future success of the Fairfield Halls are also of concern. Whilst it is proposed that lifts will be installed it is hard to see how this will be achieved when the service yard at the rear is being built over and the access road narrowed. Is this really viable.
The loss of over 700 parking spaces as a part of this scheme also questions the viability of the overall scheme, particularly at a time when over 5500 residents are being introduced on to the site. This also creates a reduced parking offer for what is meant to be an enhanced cultural offer.
For many College Green does not work well as a public space, as at many times it is simply a playground for the College or a skateboard park. The proposals have not provided a convincing strategy that the new green space will meet the needs of the Fairfield Halls, Croydon College, families and children.
The loss of key heritage assets is regrettable. The Arnhem Gate should be re-positioned and re-built as required. Feature lighting is not an appropriate replacement. Furthermore the loss of the 50’s and 60’s locally listed College buildings is to be lamented, particularly as they are buildings of their time. They could, surely, have been incorporated into the residential provision.
We all want to see a successful cultural quarter, Fairfield Halls and Croydon College, but this scheme will not provide that as there are too many ifs, buts and maybes and too many compromises to standards and quality.
Despite these many concerns being raised at the Planning Committee the Labour dominated committee pushed the scheme through.