Commander Gordon Campbell, DSO, RN 17/02/2017 12:36:00......Posted by Yvette Hopley
Commander Gordon Campbell, DSO, RN was Croydon's only recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC) during the First World War. Today invited guests and dignitaries made their way to the cenotaph in Katharine Street for the unveiling of the stone to be placed in the vicinity of the memorial. Captain R J Anstey MA, Royal Navy read words which gave an account of the Commander's bravery. I was proud to be part of the ceremony.
Gypsy and travelller site 25/05/2017 17:35:00.......Posted by Tim Pollard
Today the local plan inspection in public was dealing with the highly emotive issue of the location of a gypsy and traveller site. You will recall that the Labour council consulted in 2016/6 on perhaps designating Coombe Farm, Coombe Lodge Nurseries or Peartree Farm as the site.
Then having discovered, apparently to its surprise, that the owners of these three sites did not wish to see them used for that purpose, in 2016 the council chose Purley Oaks Depot instead. The issue for local residents was that the switch was made so late in the plan-making process that residents had no real opportunity to make their views known. Interestingly, none of the sites the Labour administration has seriously considered are in wards they represent. What a surprise!
So today’s session consisted largely of legal argument between QCs representing the council and local residents/businesses. Cllr Simon Brew represented the interests of Purley ward residents and I was there to represent Sanderstead. Although the site itself is in Purley, it is only a short walk from the edge of Sanderstead. For the avoidance of doubt, the site the council wants to use is not the recycling centre, but the highways depot immediately between it and the railway line.
The key points of the argument revolve around whether the council has provided adequate objective evidence to inform its choice. Was its assessment of the relative merits of different sites sufficiently robust and objective? Does it take into account the limitations of the site in terms of noise, contamination and pollution? Should it keep the site instead for future expansion of the recycling centre, which is already groaning at the seams? Is it fair that this site should be chosen predominately because the council owns it and it is therefore ‘easy’? Is it right that the council should exclude all sites in wards with a high deprivation because it believes the travellers there would put intolerable strain on key services?
I chose not to rehearse the entire argument, as much of it had already been outlined very articulately by the QC acting for residents. So the points I made were:
That the site selected is protected in the South London Waste plan for potential future use for waste disposal: using it for travellers precludes that
The scoring matrix used to initially grade potential sites had very subjective weighting given to different criteria. For example the council upscored any site it owned, making those sites much more likely to be selected.
Even with its strange criteria, the scoring matrix put Purley Oaks only 15th best of the possible sites, so the council then chose to re-grade using a much cruder measure, which essentially ruled out all sites on Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land, any site is a deprived ward and any site it didn’t own. Having effectively put a line through all the sites above Purley Oaks that left Purley as the only possible option. How convenient!
The council has made no effort to find out whether any of the owners of sites in positions 1-14 would actually be interested in selling.
Because the council had previously consulted on other sites and only picked Purley Oaks at the last minute, residents were denied a proper forum to have their views heard
The council choosing to exclude all wards which are in the top 15% by deprivation was a very arbitrary decision and one which is arguably wrong. If a ward has low deprivation it is unlikely to be home to high-intervention council services which are most likely to be required to support traveller families. Most of these services are actually only available in high deprivation wards. So to use this to rule wards out is extremely perverse.
The site proposed is surrounded by busy roads on two sides, a railway line on another and a recycling and waste facility on the fourth. It also features a contaminated pond required to alleviate the regular flooding of the Caterham Bourne and the land is contaminated after years of industrial use. It is noisy and dangerous, with regular surface flooding and poor air quality. Not, I have to say, somewhere I would personally want to bring up a family.
Like so many other session in the local plan hearings, many residents told me they had come away with the distinct impression that the council’s evidence base was very wonky and that the evidence used was post-rationalised to support a decision made for entirely different reasons. I hope the Inspector has taken the concerns on board, but we will have to wait several months to find out.
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).
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