Why is Purley Pool still closed?
03/08/2020 12:31:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Public gyms and pools have been able to open from Saturday 25th July so it is very disappointing that whilst most Council-owned leisure centres have opened, Purley Leisure Centre has remained firmly closed. There is no explanation on the Council website or on the operator’s website, there are no phone lines available and my online enquiry has gone unanswered.
Keeping fit, and particularly keeping our BMI down, is one way to reduce the affect of COVID-19 should we be unfortunate enough to catch it; it is therefore extremely disappointing that the Labour Council doesn't appear to be capable of opening our closest leisure centre promptly, or even letting us know when it might open. By a remarkable co-incidence, the four Council-owned pools that HAVE re-opened are all in Labour-held wards, whereas the two pools that have not re-opened are both in Conservative-held wards. What does the Council seek to gain by depriving Purley residents of facilities that are now freely availanble elsewhere in the Borough? This issue has been escalated, and we await a response from the relevant Executive Director.
Another attractive Purley family home threatened with demolition...
03/08/2020 08:42:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
I've just written a strongly-worded objection to a planning application for 4 Higher Drive, Purley; this is a lovely Edwardian house at the junction of HIgher Dive and Beaumont Road and it's threatened with demolition, inevitably to be replaced by yet another block of nine flats.
Here are my principal grounds for objection:
1) Cumulative impact – place of Purley.
Over the last 18 months, planning permission has been granted for about 60 homes to be replaced by blocks of generally 9 flats, adding up to about 520 new homes, and in addition the Mosaic Place development will add a further 220 new homes. This adds up to 740 homes which is 30% of the annual requirement for new homes for the WHOLE OF CROYDON, even assuming that the inflated targets currently being chased are valid, when the Mayor of London considers that they are not. Why is such excessive development being encouraged in just two wards in the whole borough? What about the other 26 wards?
2) Cumulative impact – Higher Drive. This is the FIFTH recent planning application to replace a large family home by a block of up to nine flats within 100m of this site, so five homes are being replaced with up to 45 flats, and in addition another 3 houses are being replaced by 60 flats farther South along Higher Drive; the cumulative impact of all these developments happening at roughly the same time is excessive on the local environment.
3) Cumulative Impact - Local Infrastructure: I’m concerned about the cumulative impact of schemes in this area on the additional traffic, car parking, health, education, residential amenity, and public transport. The Council continues to ignore the need for additional infrastructure and public services to support new residential schemes like this in the south of the Borough. Even para 6.42 of the CLP 2018 says “The need to deliver 32,890 homes does not outweigh the need to respect the local character, and amenity and to protect biodiversity.” This scheme breaches that policy.
4) Overdevelopment: This proposal constitutes over-development and intensification of the site, with nine new homes being squeezed into the space currently occupied by a single family home.
5) Out of character: the square grey slab design of the new building sits VERY uneasily with most of the local houses which have traditional gabled fronts, and is therefore out of character with the local environment.
6) Detailed design: This particular home is a very attractive Edwardian design with a delightful gazebo attached on one corner, and it is cultural vandalism that such an attractive home should be destroyed in favour of a square concrete monstrosity.
7) Trees: I’m appalled that no less than EIGHT MATURE TREES, of which FOUR are over 8M tall are proposed to be felled, and there is no space on-site for any replacements to be planted. This constitutes arboricultural vandalism on a huge scale, even by Croydon’s standards.
8) Traffic: The new homes will generate a large number of extra traffic movements at peak times, and, when considered alongside all the other consented schemes nearby, this will cause an unacceptable increase in traffic flows. This is particularly true because in the morning rush-hour, the traffic queue down to the Foxley Hill Road junction with Godstone Rd (A22) sometimes stretches back South along Higher Drive as far as Woodland Way.
9) Parking: As is the case with ALL planning applications which proudly say that they have used the Lambeth Methodology, the traffic and parking survey is flawed. Surveys are undertaken in the middle of the night when no commuters are present, yet the relative proximity of Purley station obviously attracts many commuters who need to park their vehicles somewhere – and why shouldn’t they, when the alternative is to drive for the whole journey which is surely less environmentally desirable? I acknowledge that there are spare spaces in the surrounding roads at night, but there are none during the day, which is when it matters.
It's highly regrettable that PTAL calculations do not take ANY account of topography, which obviously has a material effect both on walking and cycling journey times and on the propensity of local residents to feel that they need a car for essential transport purposes. This invalidates all PTAL-based calculations in hilly areas such as Purley, and particularly Higher Drive which itself is probably an 8% hill. It follows therefore that more car or van spaces are likely to be required by future residents than are provided for in this design.
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An unregistered care home in a peaceful cul-de-sac
26/07/2020 08:44:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
It never ceases to amaze me what some businesses try to get away with.
One street in Purley was a peaceful cul-de-sac until two months ago when a company specialising in the provision of social services to those with learning difficulties took a lease on a semi-detached family home (with paper-thin walls), and set about converting it into a hostel for seven or eight people. The neighbours endured much banging associated with building works and the installation of new plumbing, alarms, CCTV, and all the other paraphernalia associated with the hostel environment.
The company installed just one patient with one full-time carer, and then the trouble really started: the immediate semi-detached neighbours could hear swearing and screaming and loud noises through the thin walls as if furniture was being smashed up, and neighbours saw two carers vehemently arguing with each other in the public street. Things came to a head one weekend when the police were called twice within 48 hours, because the local residents could again hear shouting and screaming, and were scared for their safety and that of the unfortunate care worker who was on duty.
And all this was done without the company bothering to apply for planning permission for a change of use from a normal family home to a hostel! In addition, I and the neighbours were concerned that there might have been breaches of the regulations in these areas:
Registration with Care Quality Commission
Health and Safety of employees
Environmental protection (noise)
Registration of premises as a business
Commercial waste disposal
Council tax / business rates
As soon as I heard of this situation, I raised the alarm with senior Council staff and with the Council’s Chief Executive, as I believed that it was necessary to shut down this operation as soon as possible before it inflicted any more damage on the local community.
I’m delighted to report that this story has a happy ending – the company’s directors have finally accepted that a semi-detached family home in a quiet cul-de-sac is not the right place in which to establish a new care home catering for such severely handicapped patients, and we have been assured that the hostel will close in a few weeks. Needless to say, the residents and I are all VERY relieved.
Purley Baptist church's Mosaic Place finally gets the green light
10/07/2020 11:33:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
There was an approved application for a development of about eight storeys on the Island site about ten years ago, but it fell through when the developer went bust.
The most recent iteration of this long-running saga started in 2016 when the church applied for permission to build a seventeen storey tower block in the island site next to the library, plus several blocks of up to 8 storeys on the south side of Banstead Road. The application was approved by the Council, then "called in" by the Secretary of State (SoS) at the behest of Chris Philp MP for a fresh public review which was attended by hundreds of local residents and representatives of several local Residents' Associations . The SoS eventually turned it down, but a fresh legal challenge then resulted in the decision to turn it down being voided, ie it was as if the decision had not been made. The SoS then took a fresh look at the whole application and finally decided yesterday to approve the original plans, subject to compliance with various conditions.
The vast majority of local residents and nearly all the local RAs were and are passionately against this scheme, though it does have some supporters such as, for example the Baptist Church's many local members. Quite apart from the height of the tower, many people are appalled that the whole development of 220 flats only has 27 parking spaces of which 20 are reserved for the disabled. I find it very hard to believe that 200 residents will only own 7 cars between them, and the inevitable consequence is that there will be far more overspill parking in the local streets; these are already threatened by excess parking from the many other local developments that have already been approved, such as the huge development on the Foxley Lane side of the library, and the large number of flats being built in Russell Hill and Woodcote Valley Road.
Suburban character assassination in Purley?
10/07/2020 09:38:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
The Labour administration must have taken particular pleasure in lining up last night’s Planning committee agenda: The three items for decision were all in a tiny cul-de-sac off Russell Hill: Nos: 1,4,6 More Close. Each application was to demolish a family home with garden and replace it by a block of nine flats; two of these were approved despite spirited speeches by local residents and Cllr Oviri, and the third decision was deferred.
What makes this even worse is that Nos 2 & 3 have already been approved for yet more blocks of flats and No 5 is up for outline decision next week. It's therefore likely that six adjoining homes will be replaced by 54 flats, with no corresponding increase in infrastructure, parking, schools, doctor's surgeries, play areas etc.
One of the few arguments one can use against these applications is that of cumulative impact, and the Conservative members of the committee indeed emphasised this at last night's meeting. But Labour’s majority swept all such arguments aside in favour of the mantra that "Croydon needs more homes". Indeed Croydon does need lots more homes and particularly more affordable homes, but none of those approved last night will be affordable. It’s astonishing that this Close will potentially provide nearly 10% of the new homes target for the whole of Croydon in one year, while the Whytecliffe Road & Mosaic Place developments (see next blog) will provide another 50%. It’s entirely wrong that Purley is being swamped in this way while other areas of the Borough are left completely unscathed; sadly, the character of Purley is being deliberately and irreversibly changed before our eyes.
Two very different planning committee outcomes last night: 2/2
19/06/2020 12:21:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
There were two Purley planning applications up for decision at last night's committee meeting, and this is the second of two blogs about them:
2) 1 Higher Drive
This was another depressingly familiar type of application for the replacement of an attractive early 20th century cottage by an ugly modernist block of nine flats, with inadequate parking. I spoke against this application on the grounds of cumulative impact, out of character, overdevelopment and parking, but my concerns were ignored by the Labour members of the committee on the grounds that Croydon needs more homes. This is true, but it should not be at the expense of the destruction of the local streetscene.
I was particularly unhappy about cumulative impact, given that three other blocks of flats have been approved within 100 yeards of this site, and inadequate parking provision; the survey assumed that it was possible to park on BOTH SIDES of Foxley Hill Road and Higher Drive - how crazy is that?!
Two very different planning committee outcomes last night: 1/2
19/06/2020 12:08:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
There were two Purley planning applications up for decision at last night's committee meeting, and this is the first of two blogs about them:
1) 71-73 Pampisford Road
This was a truly horrendous application to replace 71 & 73 Pampisford Rd by an enormous five storey block of 23 flats with only 12 car parking spaces between them. It was totally out of keeping with the area, occupied a large proportion of the plot, and required the removal of several fine trees. I was absolutely delighted that the officers recommended refusal of this application; this should normally have been the end of the matter, but for some strange reason, it was nevertheless brought before the committee, perhaps in the expectation that the Labour majority on the committee would follow its previous pattern of approving almost anything in the South of the Borough. To my surprise and delight, the committee unanimously accepted the officers recommendation and refused the application.
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Helping property guardians
18/06/2020 12:32:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
I had an interesting and unusual meeting with a resident yesterday. We're all familiar with the three basic tenures as they're called, of freehold, leasehold & tenancy which can be public or private, and shared ownership has also appeared on the scene relatively recently.
There's another class of occupation called guardianship, which is sometimes applied to former commercial properties which have plans for redevelopment sometime in the future, but meanwhile they are standing empty and therefore likely to be vandalised or worse. Guardianship allows people to occupy the property under very strict conditions which include an absolute right to terminate the occupation with about 28 days notice, and the maintenance obligations on the landlord are less strict than for normal tenancies.
The Council owns one such building which is occupied under licence by several couples. The Council granted control of the building several years ago to a company to which the occupants paid a license fee, but this company.has been dissolved following several criminal prosecutions against it, The directors of the old company are now asking the occupants to pay their fees to a newly formed company, but the occupants are very unhappy about the way the old and new companies operate. I'm hoping to persuade the Council to terminate their relationship with the new company and instead deal direct with the current occupants.
Parked motorhome causes concern to local resdients.
09/06/2020 11:58:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Several residents in a Purley steeet have complained to me about a motorhome which has been stationary for several months, and was allegedly occupied by a family with connections to a nearby address. Residents reported seeing people enter and leave the vehicle at all hours of the day and night, and seeing the motorhome’s toilet contents being emptied down the rain-water gullies followed by some disinfectant, which smelled for hours afterwards.
It was possible that vehicle, vagrancy, public hygiene & public safety offences were all being committed here, and I also had concerns about safeguarding of whoever lives in the motorhome. I arranged that a Neighbourhood Safety Officer should call both on the house and on the motorhome; at the time of the call, surprise surprise it was being thoroughly cleaned, and there was no evidence of anyone living in it.
The problem is now unlikely to recur, but I hope that the very act of launching an investigation will have alerted the owner to the regulations applying to motorhomes parked in the street.
The sad passing of a stalwart PWRA supporter
05/06/2020 11:18:00.......Posted by Simon Brew
Beryl Gascoigne had lived in Purley Knoll for nearly 50 years until she died recently, and the extended family arranged that the cortege should stop outside her home yesterday. The event was beautifully arranged, with nearly 100 people lining the pavement to celebrate her life and to hear some reading, poems and eulogies. It's sad that it's not yet possible for friends and family to celebrate the lives of loved ones in the usual way, but this was an innovative alternative way to commemorate her long and happy life. RIP Beryl - we'll miss you.