Two planning applications pushed through 30/01/2017 16:47:00......Posted by Tim Pollard
I normally try to avoid being excessively political in this blog, as I am conscious that it is read by people who support all political parties (and none). However, this post is going to have to be the honourable exception to that rule.
Last Thursday night the Labour-dominated planning committee approved a number of intensification schemes in the south of the borough including two in Sanderstead. Sadly for local democracy, there was never any question that these schemes would be refused – despite the fact that committee members are not supposed to be whipped or express pre-determination, in each case all six Labour members voted en bloc.
The first of the schemes in Sanderstead was 105-107 Purley Downs Road, currently occupied by two lovely and distinctive large detached houses opposite the golf course. The proposal is to demolish both and replace with two large blocks of nine flats. One block is to be for sale and the other to be ‘affordable’, in co-operation with a housing association. I spoke in opposition to this development, as did a representative of the residents in Hill Barn, who would be most affected.
Here is what I said:
105 and 107 Purley Downs Road are two of the finest detached properties in Sanderstead, one of which was built by a local builder whose works are characterised by the distinctive glazed green tiles. As such I deeply regret that the owners have opted to sell these beautiful houses to a developer only for them to be demolished. That’s a great shame, but sadly I have to accept that it is not unlawful to do this.
If they are to go, it would seem a great shame not to insist that the space is filled by the type of accommodation of which we need much more and which is found a few yards down the road in Maywater and Tindale Closes – namely small family detached houses.
Instead , advised by the council during an extended pre-application process, the committee is being asked to adjudicate on two large blocks of flats, of which there are no other examples on Purley Downs Road. The two blocks are derived from the blocks from a previous scheme on this location, which was treated as two separate schemes on each of the plots of 105 and 107, both of which were refused by Croydon, upheld on appeal. The Inspector determined that the previous scheme would ‘materially harm the character and appearance of the area’. He further concluded that the scheme ‘failed to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness, and to seek a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings, a necessary requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework.’
It is hard to see that these concerns have been substantively ameliorated in the new scheme. The buildings are still alien, do not promote local distinctiveness and offer poor amenity for residents of the buildings. They still materially harm the appearance and character of the area. The revised scheme does go some way towards reducing the bulk and massing issues with the first scheme, although it will still be significantly worse than the current buildings and more intrusive than any others on the road. In particular there will be significant dominance as seen from Hill Barn , along with a significant increase in the overlooking of the detached properties in Hill Barn which back onto the site. This will result in a loss of privacy to those residents, especially from the higher floors in the new blocks. Although some soft landscaping is proposed, the parking requirements mean that this is necessarily modest in scale. It does not offer much reassurance that the privacy of neighbours will be protected.
The new blocks have been brought forward significantly and now stand in front of the building line. This will increase the dominance as seen from the road. In the locality people accept that development on this site is probably inevitable. But this is the wrong development for this area so I would ask that the committee refuses the application.
Sadly all these arguments were in vain. The Conservative councillors present moved refusal, which was rejected by 6 votes to 4 and the committee chair, Labour’s councillor Paul Scott then moved approval which was agreed by the same 6 votes to 4.
The second application, for land between Church Way, Briton Hill Road and Arkwright Road, went the same way. Here a tiny access road was to be created which is too narrow for a fire engine to get access, to lead to three new two storey detached houses. A local resident spoke very eloquently about the good reasons for refusal. Again the four Conservative councillors on the committee chose to support the 35 residents who were against the development in this form. Again the Labour chair proposed approval and his five colleagues slavishly followed his lead. Six to four in favour.
The other applications in other wards had all gone the same way when I left. Perhaps I was an unlucky charm that night, because shortly after I left we had a rare success - in Croham ward. Cllr Jason Perry and Cllr Luke Clancy proposed and seconded refusal on a scheme to replace the Stag & Hounds pub with an over cramped development. Whilst there was nothing to protect the pub in planning terms, Jason and Luke argued it was an over-intensification and pointed especially to the lack of defensible space for the residential units fronting busy highways which showed the developer had built as close as possible to every boundary - in some cases by 0.2 metres. To Conservative members’ astonishment the chair of the committee agreed with them, Labour abstained and they overturned the officer recommendation. Doubtless it will soon be back in a slightly less awful form and will be agreed, but at least this was a small victory for local residents.
Even more alarmingly, the Chair nailed his colours to the mast in terms of setting out what the Labour Group’s policy is. He said – and I quote – “There is no area of the borough where it is inappropriate to build flats”.
He went on to outline that respecting the character of an area does not mean building dwellings that are broadly the same as the ones around them. Nowhere, apparently, has the right to be considered special. And our housing need is so acute that, according to Scott, ‘every part of the borough will require intensification’.
Intensification zones at local plan hearing 23/05/2017 10:40:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Yesterday an entire day of the Inspection in Public of the local plan for Croydon was devoted to the subject of intensification zones. These are zones where our Labour council is particularly keen to see developed more intensively, in particular with more blocks of flats and heights allowed to double – so a predominately 1 or 2 storey area will be allowed to go to four storeys.
It has never been clear how the Labour administration arrived at the five sites it particularly wants to intensify. During the course of the inspection yesterday a new spreadsheet was circulated which apparently summarises which areas were considered and why the five selected ones were chosen. Unfortunately this document poses more questions than it answers!
What is clear is that 35 areas were considered, of which 16 were in the south and east of the borough – and therefore are represented by Conservative councillors – and 19 were in the northern and central areas currently represented by Labour. All five selected zones are in the south and east.
The areas concerned are:
An area along Limpsfield Road, Sanderstead, extending eastwards into Onslow Gardens and other residential roads
An area extending up the hills behind Kenley Station
An area around Wickham Road, Shirley Road and Addiscombe Road, again extending outwards into quiet residential roads
An area in South Croydon extending down Brighton Road from opposite Whitgift School, past the bus station and down to the junction of Sanderstead Road. It also runs up Sanderstead Road to Sanderstead Station and again takes in many roads to either side of the main roads
An area of Forestdale from Inglewood through Woodpecker Mount and Bellfield, down to Featherbed Lane and then up Gravel Hill.
My concern is that all these zones are too large, somewhat arbitrary in what they take in and what they don’t and the reasoning behind their selection very difficult to match up against the so-called ‘evidence’ which underpins it.
Some sites are rejected because the ownership of the land is fragmented and therefore the prospects for concerted development are very limited. Others are ruled out because of nearby heritage assets. Yet Onslow Gardens, which the supporting spreadsheet accepts contains All Saints Church (nationally listed) and eight other locally listed assets, with all the land owned in small house-sized plots. Surely when compared with other rejected areas, Onslow Gardens is equally challenging to intensify?
The plan regarding Sanderstead’s intensification is also contradictory. Elsewhere in the plan the council notes that the view of All Saints’ from Limpsfield Road is important and worthy of protection. That’s good, but given that it also wishes to allow four storey blocks of flats to be built surrounding All Saints’ and directly along the line of the view it wants to protect, that’s not very reassuring!
The over-arching policy talks about the idea that these zones should be in areas with good public transport. The council spreadsheet accepts that the PTAL (public transport accessibility level) in Sanderstead is virtually at the lowest level, far from the high level the policy requires!
This area is not called Sanderstead Village for nothing. It is centred around a church, a green and a village pond. The council recognises that the aspect to the west is very open and should be protected. The existing buildings in this intensification zone are predominately semis, detached two storey or bungalows. To all intents and purposes it is a village dropped into to a continuous urban environment. Turning it into flats seems nothing short of vandalism.
The good news is that it is clear that the Inspector is acutely aware that the selection of the five zones is arbitrary at best and the evidence base provided is contradictory. Towards the end of the day he noted that there were a number of possible outcomes of this part of the plan – he could redraw the boundaries, or delete entire zones, or even delete the entire policy from the plan. He could also, of course, approve the zones (although my reading of the progress of the day is that this is not the most likely outcome).
Moving on to the other proposed zones, the Kenley zone is equally bonkers. It does not need a policy to encourage intensification. Existing policies and the topography can be used to allow sustainable intensification as and where it is appropriate.
The Forestdale zone is quite simply crazy. The area identified is already quite intensively developed – mostly in the form of three storey six-flat apartment blocks. It is all in private ownership, with the flats subject to leases. The prospects of doing anything much in that zone are almost nil. Half of Holmbury Grove is in and half is out. You really wonder how officers and Labour councillors ever believed it was sensible to put this one forward.
The Wickham Road/Shirley Road zone is not entirely crazy, being based on a core area which is already semi-intensified. However, the zone extends too far into the main road hinterlands, and un-necessarily extends up Shirley Road and Addiscombe Road.
Similarly the Brighton Road plan makes a certain amount of sense in its application to Brighton Road, but there is no rational reason to include Sanderstead Road and it is hard to understand why this particular stretch of Brighton Road is considered more suitable that the miles of the rest of it or London Road? It seems to have just been pulled out of a hat!
The Inspector has run the sessions very fairly, and all the evidence has been examined quite forensically. I hope that the outcome of this will be a deletion or significant modification to this harmful and divisive policy.
Fly Tipping - Downsway Sanderstead 23/05/2017 09:18:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Unfortunately, we are seeing repeated fly tipping in Downsway. Over the week-end this pile of household goods was left on the junction of Downsway and Purley Oaks Road. It has since been picked up by the council but I would ask residents to be vigilant and report any vehicle registrations to the council or myself so that these people can be caught.
Another hot spot is St Mary's Road. Do let me kow if you have any evidence that could help stop this.
Church Farm Services - Mitchley Avenue 22/05/2017 08:55:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
A further update in relation to the activity that is being carried out on the land in Mitchley Avenue by Church Farm Services.
"We would like to introduce ourselves we are church farm services and we are the new tenants of the land at Mitchley Avenue and Mitchley Hill if you would like to find out more about us please visit our website or our Facebook page.
We are intending to reseed the fields with long term grass leys this autumn and cut it for hay and haylage next summer.
We hope that all the local residents will find that we look after the fields in an appropriate way. Rest assured at our home farm in Woldingham we have over 100 species of birds and our farming practices take wildlife in general into consideration” http://www.churchfarmservices.co.uk/"
Field Opposite Riddlesdown Shops on Mitchley Avenue 19/05/2017 17:42:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
A number of residents were concerned by activity on the field on Mitchley Avenue/Dunmail Drive opposite the small parade of shops. I contacted the council as the work being carried out was very close to the protected trees and ancient woodland. I thought it might be helpful for residents to read the officer's reply.
"Upon my arrival yesterday it was quite apparent that the driver with plant machinery was undertaking some form of clearance work in close proximity to protected trees. When the driver was approached, he explained that he has just signed a contract to rent the land on a yearly rolling basis. The purpose of the rental is for the production Commercial Hay. He further explained that the reason for the plant machinery was to clear the encroachment of bramble and foliage growing over onto the workable field. This was with a view to ploughing over the next few days or weeks in preparation for the sowing of seed.
From my observation it appears that he has done somewhat of a tidying job around the outer edges of it to maximise workable space. I can confirm that from my walk around the periphery of the field that no unauthorised works have been undertaken. No protected trees have been removed or pruned without permission, other than x2 small diameter trees of no more than a 6 meters in height having been removed, one of which had already fallen before being cleared.
For clarification I have spoken to the driver today and explained the consequences of unauthorised tree works with Croydon council boundaries. I forwarded copies of all the relevant TPO’s in close proximity to where he is working so the protection status and position of trees is understood. With regard to the ploughing of the land, it is not the wish of the council to restrict working practices on land such as the subject field, but we have informed him that when he starts ploughing, the machine and its attachments must not cross over the ‘drip line’ of protected trees".
I hope the explanation alleviates any concerns.
Dementia Awareness Week is 14 May to 20 May 15/05/2017 08:26:00.......Posted by Yvette Hopley
There are a number of Dementia Awareness activities happening throughout the borough.
At Croydon University Hospital Caroline Walker, the Dementia Lead Nurse is leading on a number of activities at the hospital.
The Croydon BME Forum is holding an event on Friday, 19th May between 13:00 – 15:00 at BME Forum, 56a Mitcham Road , Croydon CR0 3RG.
If you are in Sanderstead Bhavin and I will be on the high street in Sanderstead, just outside McColls with our stall at 11.00 am today, Monday, 15 May for a few hours. Pop buy to talk to us or maybe just enjoy one of our cakes!
Hakeem will be in Lower Addiscombe Road spreading the word with local businesses and in Purley Town Centre there will also be a Dementia awareness stand run by Yuliana.
There will be a Dementia Awareness event in the Braithwaite Hall on Friday 26 May between 9.00 and 4.00 pm.
Dementia Awareness sessions being held around the Croydon area
Soumick Dey, the Principal at the Collegiate, is keen to learn of comments from the RRA and other local residents. He does also say, "in practice, the vast majority of our students and staff are on site before 8.30am already and that is why formalising this start time seems sensible. I suspect there would be some impact on the number of cars before 8.30am, but not a significant one."
There is a meeting for parents on Thursday evening (18th) and the parent consultation closes on Friday 19 May.
If you live near the Collegiate and feel that you would be affected, then please let the collegiate know your thoughts by emailing CollegiateDay@riddlesdown.org
7-9 Arkwright Road 04/05/2017 19:43:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Just back from another depressing night in front of Croydon's planning committee, where another back garden development in Sanderstead has been approved.
This is a strange application just down the road from an existing close but with its own access. Access was described in the report as only just acceptable
Why do we need to have a corner, an access road, a house, then another access road in such close proximity?
It would be far more sensible to have access off Shenley Close, but it was not to be. This appears to be a matter of commercial terms not being able to be agreed. I’m not convinced that, as a council, we should just accept that.
There is a badger set in the locality, no detail as to where it is located or what the impact will be. How could this application be reliably determined without that information?
The planning history tells us that nine years ago permission was refused for a single dwelling on this site. Now three is considered acceptable, with one placed very close to #53 The Ridgeway. 16m away. In the context of the sizes of plots in this area that’s very close.
This leads to a loss of privacy to #53 and the retention of the trees under TPO will not sufficiently mitigate this as the key tree standing between the two properties is not covered by TPO and could therefore be freely removed.
It looks to me as thought this is a site with viability issues and we are therefore being asked to accept a compromised scheme.
I do not object to this development in principle. The development of Shenley Close allowed in 2005 sets a precedent. But I do think this is not yet sufficiently thought through and argued it should either be deferred or refused to enable the significant outstanding issues to be resolved. A development of say the larger two houses, better spaced out and separated from #53 The Ridgeway and with access off Shenley Close, wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Once again, as is depressingly familiar, the six Labour councillors on the committee voted to approve it, opposed by the four Conservative councillors.
The only saving grace is that we were first on, so I can now go on to the Sanderstead Residents' Association AGM!
Fly tips in Sanderstead 03/05/2017 18:40:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
There are a number of fly tips in Sanderstead this week:
A black sack close to the junction of Sundown Avenue and Sanderstead Hill
Four or five black sacks on the green verge by Threadbare (sewing shop) which is the first shop north of the boarded up Lidl site which used to be the Good Companions pub on Limpsfield Road at the borough border
A black sack by the first tree south west of the pedestrian crossing over Limpsfield Road in Hamsey Green - this is the location I report most weeks.
What looks like a filing cabinet on Limpsfield Road just south of Cherry Tree Green
I have reported them for clearance.
Anti-skid surface on Rectory Park 02/05/2017 08:35:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
I have today submitted a council question to the cabinet member responsible for road safety, Cllr Stuart King, asking him to intervene to get anti-skid surface laid before, round and after the junction of Mitchley Hill and Rectory Park, a notorious accident black spot.
This is now the 4th accident in this vicinity, since last November, with three accidents with vehicles coming down the hill and one accident going up the hill before the bend (due to parking).
Here is the text of the question I have submitted.
Riddlesdown Residents’ Association have been asking for over six months that the council put down an anti-skid surface before, on and after the junction of Rectory Park and Mitchell Avenue where there have been repeated accidents caused by drivers losing control around the corner. The lamppost recently installed by Skanska has now been seriously damaged three times, most recently on 30/04/2017. Thankfully there have been no fatalities in the recent spate of accidents, but surely the evidence here is quite clear? Only an anti-skid surface on the lower part of Rectory Avenue and around the bend is going to prevent more serious accidents. As yet residents have not had any kind of positive assurance. Will you intervene to ensure this vital safety measure is commissioned?
I will post again when I get a response (likely to be late May).
Hamsey Green fly tipping - AGAIN! 24/04/2017 08:51:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
My favourite local site for fly tipping has been fly tipped again! This tree just south west of the pedestrian crossing by Hamsely Green parade seems to be a magnet for a fly tipper - and given that it is always over the weekend and always in the same place, I suspect it is the same perpetrator over and over again. This time there is a mattress and other furniture as well as the usual black sacks (the mattress wasn't there yesterday early afternoon, but had appeared wnen I went past at 11pm).
I have repeatedly asked the council to do something to catch this person (or people) - they are always telling us how good they are at prosecution, so lets have it here - but not much seems to be happening. What about some mobile CCTV?
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