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 The Fairfield Blog
 
Cllr  Vidhi  Mohan
Cllr  Helen  Pollard
Cllr  Sue  Winborn
 

Fairfield and College Green
25/02/2017 10:30:00......Posted by Helen Pollard

 
 

Went to the Planning Committee meeting where the plan for College Green and Fairfield Halls was recommended for approval.  

I question the wisdom of putting the Fairfield application into the same planning meeting as a number of other local developments.  Far more time was needed to consider an application this big.  There was an 86-page report prepared about this application and it was hard to give proper consideration to the many aspects of the development given the lack of time.  Anyone looking for more details on the Council's website would have found around 300 pdf documents (most labelled with a code, rather than description) so it was very difficult to work out what was going on.  I wonder whether all this was a deliberate ploy to 'bury' the details so that close scrutiny was made as difficult as possible. 

Whilst I am supportive of the redevelopment of the area and Fairfield Halls I have major concerns about the direction the development is taking.  The housing is very dense and corners seem to have been cut in order to maximise revenue.  Here is a copy of my speech.

I am speaking as a ward councillor for Fairfield Ward and also the Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture Leisure and Sport.

I would like to start by saying that I am pleased we finally have a planning application for the first phase of the Fairfield redevelopment even though it is seven months after the closure of Fairfield Halls.   I have great concerns about the redevelopment of Fairfield Halls given that this application his being submitted so late in the day.  I hope it is still able to open in 2018 so that residents can once again enjoy top quality events in this world class venue.  I also hope that the acoustics of the Concert Hall are not adversely affected and that community groups who want to use Fairfield Halls won't be priced out by a commercial operator who only wants to make a profit.

I'll now move on to the detail of the application.

I accept that there is a need to build homes in Croydon, particularly in this area which  is so close to good transport links, however I think a high price is being paid to squeeze in so many homes.  By which I mean that, in places this development is so dense it will materially affect the daily lives of residents.  

In a throwaway comment at 3.3 the report says that despite daylight and sunlight conditions being below the recommended standards the overall level of amenity for future occupiers would be acceptable. 

But is it acceptable that 36% of habitable rooms will have less than the recommended amount of daylight?

Is it acceptable that instead of half the amenity area for phase 1A receiving 2 hours of sunlight on the benchmark day of 21st March, only 14% will get two hours sunlight?

Is it acceptable that the courtyards for blocks 4 and 5 will receive no sunlight on 21st March and in block 6, only 36% of the area will get the minimum of 2 hours?  Below the recommended 50%?  It is hard to imagine any plants surviving in these courtyards, so they could potentially become concrete no-go areas.

I worry that the flats on lower levels and the communal areas will be dark and gloomy which is not a great outlook for residents.  Their experience of living in these flats will be adversely affected by the poor design and density of development.

Other things that concern me about this development are:

·        Firstly:  The lack of family housing.  6% rather than the recommended 20%.  This will really affect the feel of the place, with fewer children.  It could become a dormitory for city workers, rather than a vibrant community.

·        Secondly: Separation distance between blocks B and D are only 15-16 metres.  Once again, a dark and gloomy prospect for residents

·        Third:  The lack of onsite play space for children.  Ignoring recommended levels

·        Fourth:  The excessive use of concrete in the design.  Croydon has a reputation for being a concrete jungle because of the prevalence of 60s brutalist architecture and the use of bare concrete.  We should be making every effort to steer clear of this approach, especially as the applicant is actually the council.  The proposed design will date and look tatty very quickly.

·        Fifth:  The loss of 37 of the 50 trees on the site.  I hope these are replaced

·        Sixth:  A two thirds reduction in the number of parking spaces.  This will have far reaching implications for people who used to use the car park and also for residents.

·        Seventh: The fact that the council is ignoring GLA advice about the bridge link.

·        Eighth: The lack of comment from the Police’s ‘designing out crime’ officer

Finally, I would like to mention the local parks.  The report refers to the fact that residents can use local parks at Park Hill and Queen's Gardens.  There has been no investment in Park Hill Park despite money being set aside for doing this.  Will there be some s106 / CIL money from this development to upgrade the facilities at Park Hill Park and Queen's Gardens to cope with this increased usage? 

Notwithstanding the comments, I am happy to see that something is finally happening to move this development forward.  I support the overall idea of this application, but I have some major misgivings about the impact of this dense development on future residents.

Note: the photo shows the new college building (two blocks connected by a bridge) attached to the back of Fairfield Halls, which is to the right of the picture.  On the left is one of the residential blocks.

 

 
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Scrutiny - Fairfield Halls
26/04/2017 11:28:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Attended the Scrutiny Meeting that reviewed the decision about the appointment of the operator for Fairfield Halls.  At the end of the meeting, the Committee agreed that no further action was required regarding the decision to appoint BHLive as the operator for Fairfield Halls.  This was supported by all councillors and was the right approach at this stage.  Nevertheless, a number of concerns remain about the management of Fairfield Halls going forward:

-          More clarity is needed about how much school and community use there will be at the venue, and on what terms.  At the moment there is no clarity about whether the events that happened before Fairfield Hall closed will be able to continue.  We need to be sure they won’t be priced out of Fairfield Halls. 

-          What will happen if the operator fails to deliver on the contract?  £30m has been invested in refurbishing this venue and we need to be confident the money has been well spent and will deliver the cultural programme that Croydon needs.

Here is a link to detailed notes that I took at the meeting

 

 


 

Council meeting
24/04/2017 11:26:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Attended the Council Meeting in the Town Hall.  Didn't get an opportunity to ask questions about the new operator for Fairfield Halls but will ask questions in the Scrutiny meeting on 26th April

 


 

Fairfield Halls 'Call in'
21/04/2017 20:47:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Why I 'called in' the decision to appoint a new operator for Fairfield Halls.

The role of Scrutiny, according to Sean Fitzsimons (Chair of Scrutiny) is 'to hold public sector executives to account for the public money they have been given to spend within Croydon borough boundaries'.  Public executives in this context include members of the Cabinet, and the Leader of the Council.

The Leader of the Council is about to award a contract worth £180m to an organisation about which we know nothing.  This makes the Leader's decision an obvious and very reasonable subject for scrutiny.  It is right that the Leader of the Council should be held to account when it comes to the future of Croydon's flagship arts complex.

It is well known that running an entertainment venue like Fairfield Halls is a mammoth undertaking and one that is very hard to do without subsidy.  Croydon residents need to be confident the operator that is about to be appointed can deliver what is required.  They need to know how it is possible for an operator not only to break even, but to have enough surplus to pay for capital works on in the building and provide revenue for the Council within 5 years.  This will be a huge achievement.  If they can deliver.  But what if they don't deliver? 

If the operator fails to deliver, what then?  Is there another operator who can be called upon to take on the running of the venue?  Or will the Council have to step in and run the venue itself? Or provide a subsidy?

The report says that one operator pulled out of discussions after they had started.  Why was this?  Did they think it would not be possible to deliver what the Council wanted?  

There is still a lack of clarity about what access there will be for community groups and schools to use the venue.

The current Labour Council mas made big claims to be 'open and transparent' and yet, it is prepared to make a decision of this magnitude without reference to the Cabinet, the Council or the public.  It begs the question 'What have they got to hide?'

I hope the scrutiny meeting next Wednesday reveals more information that, for some reason, the Labour Council has been trying to hide.  Information that should be in the public domain.  Like many people in the borough, I want Fairfield Halls to succeed and provide a focal point for entertainment for many years to come.  At the moment I can't be sure that is what we will get. 

 


 

Addiscombe Grove
20/04/2017 20:51:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Went to the Planning Committee meeting to see a presentation by the developer of the proposed 'Pocket' development in Addiscombe Grove.  The Committee was generally in favour of the development which promised affordable housing to people who are from Croydon.  My main concern, as ward councillor, is the size and height of the building.  It will really overshadow the homes of people who live in Garrick Crescent and Granville Close.

 


 

Meeting residents
19/04/2017 20:57:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Spent the evening on the Whitgift estate.  Spoke to many residents and uncovered a few issues e.g. dissatisfaction with the amount of litter and poor cleaning regime in the area. 

 


 

Street Orchestra in BoxPark
14/04/2017 16:14:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

 
 

Went to see the Street Orchestra of London at their performance in BoxPark.  They were a lively group of performers with a wide range of music.  I particularly enjoyed seeing them perform one of their pieces as they strolled through the audience.  It is great to see this sort of event in Croydon.

 


 

Meeting about Croham Road shops
13/04/2017 16:10:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Met with a senior council officer to discuss options for improving the appearance of the parade of shops on Croham Road.  Residents are concerned that the poor state of repair of some shops and the litter etc in the area is giving a run-down feel that attracts graffiti and anti-social behaviour. 

 


 

Parks Meeting
12/04/2017 15:59:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Met with Council officers and consultants who are carrying out the masterplanning for 6 parks in Croydon (Park Hill, Lloyd, Ashburton, Happy Valley, Norbury and South Norwood Lake).  The masterplan exercise aims to put together plans for these parks.  Once the plans are approved they will be used as the blueprint for future development work. 

In theory this is a good thing and will provide a framework for moving these six parks forward.  In practice, there is no money set aside to devliver these plans.  There might be s106 money available for some parks, but this is unlikely to cover the cost of delivering the masterplans.  There will be an expectation that park users themselves will bid for grant funding to get the money to carry out the works.  This is a very big assumption and provides no certainty that the masterplasn will ever be delivered. 

I have asked the Council for details of how much money is available for work on each of the 6 parks. 

The other issue is that the masterplans only cover 6 parks in Croydon.  There are no plans for any of the other parks in the borough.

 


 

Meeting residents in Fairfield
11/04/2017 15:57:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

Spent the evening in South Croydon talking to residents about the issues that are important to them.  Street cleaning, litter and parking were the main topics raised.

 


 

Easter Egg Hunt
09/04/2017 17:27:00.......Posted by Helen Pollard

 
 

Some of the Fairfield Councillors' ward budget was used by Friends of Park Hill to stage an Easter Egg Hunt in the Walled Garden in Park Hill Park.  A very enjoyable event!

 


 

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 Older Blog Posts
04/04/2017
Surgery
04/04/2017
Verges
03/04/2017
Wellesley Road Closed 8-18 April
01/04/2017
Surrey Street
30/03/2017
North End
30/03/2017
Queens Gardens
30/03/2017
SCCA
25/03/2017
Lost views
24/03/2017
Ashburton Library
24/03/2017
Planning Meeting
19/03/2017
A Mystery….
16/03/2017
Arts Question Time
13/03/2017
Addiscombe Grove
13/03/2017
Cabinet Agenda
09/03/2017
Old Town
04/03/2017
Spring Cleaning
28/02/2017
John Ruskin College
27/02/2017
Council Meeting
25/02/2017
Fairfield and College Green
25/02/2017
Surrey Street consultation meeting
18/02/2017
Heathfield Gardens
11/02/2017
Rise Gallery
09/02/2017
Saffron Square
09/02/2017
Parks update
08/02/2017
Heathfield Gardens
04/02/2017
Saraswati Puja
01/02/2017
Project Griffin
01/02/2017
Meeting with Police
31/01/2017
Director of Place
30/01/2017
Council Meeting
 
 
 
 
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