16/01/2018 12:30:00.......Posted by Lynne Hale
Today I attended the Purley Skyscraper Inquiry and had the opportunity of explaining to the Planning Inspector why I objected to such a tall building on this site. The site is desperate for re-development and we need more housing but I do think that 17 storeys is just too tall.
Below are the notes I spoke from:
“I am here to tell you why I think the plan for a 17 storey skyscraper here in Purley is completely inappropriate.
At 4 to 5 times the height of any other building for miles around, the skyscraper would stick out like a sore thumb, be significantly out of character with the area and would obliterate the current suburban feel.
Whilst the main focus of my concern is with the height of the proposed building, I also have serious concerns about the impact on local parking, the flood risk, the density of the development and the detrimental impact which such a tall building will have on local views such as those from Farthing Downs.
I have a close connection with Purley and the people who live here. My parents had a shop next to Purley Station and I have always lived in the area, representing Sanderstead Ward as a councillor – just a few miles up the road from here - for nearly 20 years. I also worked as a health professional in Purley Hospital for many years.
This site really does need developing. It has been sitting here abandoned and derelict for years creating a dreadful eyesore on this important Town Centre site. I have seen quite a few proposals for the site in the past, some of which have truly celebrated the site which should sit proudly on the junction between the A22 and the A23.
- Well-designed buildings of character – one of which I recall looked like the bow of a cruise ship facing you as you drove under the A22 railway bridge towards it – its tiered storeys reflecting beautifully the topography of the site. Imagine that!
It is therefore perfectly possible to have a beautiful landmark design which will put Purley on the map in terms of innovative design, not just in the community development world, but in the wider world of regeneration. Importantly though, of all the previous iterations I have seen, none has been more than 7 or 8 storeys.
And I would at this point like to commend the vision and energy of Purley Baptist Church in trying to bring sustainable life to this derelict site.
I don’t think this 17 storey building is where they wished to end up, but I would like to place on record my recognition of the huge amount of time, money and prayer which Purley Baptist Church has invested into the creation of a scheme, which they wished to bring to this site and which would enhance the lives of Purley residents.
I am saddened that the sheer size of what we have had to end up with means we are in the position of opposing what started off as such a wonderful worthwhile positive proposal for Purley.
What started as a project built on faith not finance has now become one driven by finance and a political interpretation of planning policies based on ideology rather than what is best for the local community and character here in Purley.
Unfortunately, this proposal will put Purley on the map for all the wrong reasons. This looming eyesore is a tragic waste of a site with real potential to deliver a community centre and housing which we could embrace and celebrate. This skyscraper would cause a shadow over central Purley and have a detrimental impact not just on the character of the suburban neighbourhood but would completely dominate it.
The proposal for 17 floors is inappropriate for the following planning reasons:
• It does not respect and enhance the local area – as required by Croydon’s own Local Plan and it cannot possibly be considered to be of exceptional quality with sensitivity applied to articulation and composition which is proportionate in scale. CLP2 (2017) DM 16.
• Referencing London Plan (2016) Policy 7.7 –
o It will have an unacceptably harmful impact on its surroundings because of its being so much higher than any other building nearby
o It certainly won’t relate well with the surrounding buildings being completely at odds with and utterly dominating the prevailing street-scene and public realm
o And it certainly doesn’t form part of a cohesive building group – as defined by the Policy – because it is a complete one-off
In addition to breaching the London Plan and the Croydon Plan as illustrated by my previous points, the scheme also flies in the face of the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) para 58, sub point 4, which says that planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments: “respond to local character and history and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials.”
The reason for this breach is that the towering height of this proposal is completely out of character with any other building for miles around.
This design in its entirety would however, be perfectly at home in Croydon Town Centre, just up the road, where tall buildings and density of this scale are perfectly apt.
Turning now briefly to density and parking.
This development exceeds the upper end of the density reference range set out in the London Plan 2016 Policy 3.4 and Table 3.2.
The island site on its own, which in many ways it is, as it is completely physically separated from the rest of the development by a busy dual carriage way, is 50% higher than the top end of the density range.
The density range is there for a reason – to protect the living conditions of the residents who will live there – so it is unacceptable just to ignore it. Indeed density alone would be sufficient grounds to have refused the application.
We know we need more housing in Croydon Borough but it is unacceptable to squeeze families into developments that are just not suitable in terms of density – especially when there are plenty of brownfield sites which are sitting undeveloped in Croydon, crying out for regeneration. Placing hundreds of families on a roundabout in the middle of a busy gyratory system is just not fair on any of them.
Parking is already at a premium in Purley and with just 37 parking spaces for the 220 flats, this will inevitably put a huge burden on local street parking which is already stressed.
Residents should be given a real choice about how they travel (NPPF 2012 para 29) but this scheme would deny that and seriously adversely affect the current parking conditions.
My final point is around flooding in this high flood risk area. We all know that the centre of Purley floods on a fairly regular basis – the Bourne rises in the Caterham/Kenley section of the valley every 7 years or so and even a particularly heavy downfall can bring Purley Cross to a complete standstill as the roads flood.
So it is surprising that the scheme does not have more substantial flood mitigation measures in place.
As I have said, I know Purley Baptist Church has worked so hard for many years on trying to bring a scheme which will enhance the local area and support local residents.
But with regret I think this skyscraper proposal would fundamentally and detrimentally change the nature of Purley. The goal posts have significantly moved during the scheme’s development and what we have now ended up with is just too tall.
Mr Nicholson, in the circumstances, I hope that you will reject it.”