Coulsdon's future debated
25/04/2016 07:34:00......Posted by Luke Clancy
On April 4 Cllr Jeet Bains and I presented at the Purley & Coulsdon Debating Society with Maureen Levy, Secretary of East Coulsdon Residents’ Association. We debated the motion ‘Croydon Council is destroying Coulsdon. Proposing the motion, Maureen gave a passionate speech steeped in local history displaying a wide and varied knowledge of the area. I was invited to oppose the motion but as I said to the debate’s organisers I was not in a position where I could realistically oppose it, as I was in agreement with Maureen – broadly - on a number of points. I proposed an amendment to the motion that instead ‘Labour is destroying not only Coulsdon but the whole of Croydon.’ Unfortunately the Society said its rules did not allow amendments to motions.
Nevertheless, we debated, and I focused on Coulsdon issues and my colleague Cllr Jeet Bains addressed the Society on a number of issues affecting the wider borough. I voiced talked principally about parking, traffic and the closure of the CALAT centre.
Lion Green Road car park closed in July 2015 with a commitment to start constructing a new Waitrose the next day. Nothing happened for seven months. Residents and small, local businesses were deprived of crucial parking spaces and were also denied the promised new development. The Council estimates over £88,000 of pay and display income and more than £23,000 of season ticket income has been lost due to the needless seven-month long closure.
Cllr Tony Newman, the Labour leader of our Council, has recently dismissed complaints about the chronic lack of parking and branded Coulsdon residents as "from a bygone era" for wanting to use cars.
The town needs all the parking possible and many more bays for shoppers, workers and businesses. It’s welcome the front part of Lion Green Road car park is back in use. But the rest of the car park should be brought back into temporary use until building works start. To add more parking capacity, the wider Woodcote Grove Road Entrance to the small CALAT car park should be constructed as soon as possible.
In addition to the measures I’ve just outlined to ameliorate the parking crisis that has developed in Coulsdon other solutions include exploring the idea for a Park and Ride service operating out of the Ullswater Industrial Estate, pressuring Transport for London to allow parking on the bypass and asking Barretts to allow temporary parking at Cane Hill.
Let’s not forget either that the Labour manifesto stated that they did explicitly promise to have one hour free parking in District Centres. The proposed reduction to 30 minutes proves their duplicity. For older and disabled people to park in Lion Green Road and go to the other end of town will be difficult and unreasonable.
When the council consulted on this issue a couple of years ago, traders voted clearly to stay as we are. One hour free parking along the main shopping high street allows small local shops to compete fairly with supermarkets with large free car parks. In 2009, when the Conservatives were in power, nearly 1000 people sent in objections to the council Pay & Display scheme. The Council listened and as a result residents won their campaign for one hour free parking on the Brighton Road. It remains to be seen if Labour will listen as the Conservatives did then.
Cane Hill is foremost in the minds of many Coulsdon residents is the need to provide adequate access into and out of the development. I believe it’s essential that the Council keeps an open mind over the need for a southern access road to the A23. But Labour hasn’t done this. Following the local elections in 2014, conversations with the new Leader of the Council did lead councillors in Coulsdon West to understand that this option remains on the table, and we welcomed that.
But since then there has been no action on the matter. It should be noted that the Council isn't the only body with a say in the matter however as the Greater London Assembly will also need to give its permission.
Cane Hill is of course a massive undertaking. The former psychiatric hospital will be replaced by 675 homes and three thousand square metres of business premises. In Croydon, under London Plan targets, the borough must build 14,000 residential units over ten years. Cane Hill will contribute five percent of that.
But the scale of shouldering a development like Cane Hill is leading many local people to question what benefits are being delivered in return. Coulsdon residents ask, if they accommodate thousands of new neighbours, how will public services be improved in response?
Since May 2014 the Council has received £2.9 million in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) from developments in Coulsdon. The overall borough’s CIL income is currently £4.7 million. Coulsdon then is contributing over sixty percent of the borough’s CIL. In addition, if all outstanding planning consents in Coulsdon were commenced approximately £5.3 million of the borough’s CIL would be payable.
It will have escaped no one’s attention that the CALAT centre in Coulsdon has closed. The Council claimed the curriculum offered in Coulsdon did not deliver national priorities for adult learning funding. As a result Coulsdon students will now need to travel to Croydon Clocktower, Thornton Heath or New Addington. We will have no such education provision in the south of the borough.
It is instructive that the Labour-run council has opted to close the one CALAT centre in the largely Tory-voting south of the borough.
This site has been a cornerstone of learning in the Coulsdon area, and provided education and learning in subjects from flower arranging to English for many residents.
It is another example of the way in which Labour thinks it can ignore the needs of Cousldon.