A full report on the presentation and background information can be found on the ECCO website.

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Menta Redrow organised the presentation in order to give information to residents about their revised plan for the second phase of the Morello site including Cherry Orchard Gardens.   I counted 16 local residents attended.   Councillor Patricia Hay-Justice was able to attend for part of the meeting,  and asked some pertinent questions.

Craig Marks,  who is a board member of Menta Redrow Ltd and whom residents have got to know as front person for the scheme,  gave a speech updating those attending about the amended plan,  as did Cara,  who is the architect.   Cara  told us that the new scheme omits that part of the site owned by Network Rail.   She emphasised that Menta Redrow were focussing on objectives which were within their control.   Cara promised that the buildings would be of “exceptional design quality”.   However,  we may not see the final designs for some time.

Cara gave us a vision of the proposed bridge link in these terms:  “the space lifts up to the level of the bridge”.   She stated that the  play space on the Cherry Orchard Gardens site would be for the sole use of residents and their families.  She promised “a linear park running along Cherry Orchard Road”.   On the first floor of Morello 2 would be a self-financing community hub,  a space which could be used by individuals and workers for small business units seeking to have a quiet area for internet access,  and rooms for activities,  such as holding meetings and conference calls.   Cara further stated that Morello 2 would contain 10% affordable housing and Cherry Orchard Gardens 15% affordable housing.   Cllr Hay-Justice asked about price.  Mr Marks stated that they were “still looking at it”.

The summary of concerns which I expressed on behalf of ECCO were as follows:

  • The absence of community space
  • The low level of affordable housing
  • Absence of progress in the construction of the link to Dingwall Road
  • The loss of four mature plane trees on corner of Cherry Orchard/Oval Roads

Other concerns were expressed by residents attending were as follows:

  • The creation of a wind tunnel behind the Morello 2 site which would particularly impact people on using East Croydon station (raised by a resident of Addiscombe Court Road)
  • Poor visual quality (in terms of design) of new developments in Croydon (resident of Cedar Road)
  • What is going to happen to the Porter and Sorter? (Gordon Thompson – Chair of Canning and Clyde RA)
  • What will be the impact on taxis/transport interchange? (resident of Addiscombe Court Road)

Craig Marks and Cara dealt with concerns as follows:

Menta Redrow would “build it [ie the link],  fit it and fund it”.   As soon as the site ceased to be a building site,  the link would be ready to use subject;  however,  completion of the scheme required the agreement of Network Rail,  as the bridge would cross their land.   Mr Marks called for closer liaison between the Council,  Menta Redrow and Network Rail on the issue.

Mr Marks stated that the 2011 permission provided for the developer to cut down the plane trees.   Expert advice had been obtained to the effect that the trees were “past their best”.   The roots of these trees were a restriction on the new build.  However,  Menta Redrow would see “how they (ie the plane trees) can be retained”.

Mr Marks stated that he knew what it cost to get the scheme built.   He said it would show “great architecture”.   He considered that the cost of infrastructure and development was impacting on affordable housing.

Engineers would test whether or not the amended plans would create a wind tunnel.

Cara stated that the new buildings will be “amazing”.   They would be “looking at a brick finish”,  at which point Mr Marks interjected that they would “evolve that”.

Mr Marks has a good relationship with Marstons.   He is seeking to “unlock” Billinton Hill/Royal Mail sites and foresaw that the Porter and Sorter would continue to trade but possibly in a new building.   He was interested in it coming into the Morello site.

Mr Marks saw transport links as a TfL issue.   His focus was on “pedestrian development”.

The main action point for ECCO (and,  indeed,  other Residents’Associations in the area) is to make representations to the Council to convene meetings as a matter of urgency to ensure that there is joined-up thinking in the implementation of the East Croydon Masterplan.   Such meetings should seek to resolve conflicts arising from disparate land ownership and to avoid negative effects of piecemeal development upon:

(i)        pedestrians,  cyclists,  drivers and public transport users;

(ii)       the public realm generally,  particularly in respect of environmental issues in the broadest sense;  and,  not least,

(iii)      the speedy and satisfactory conclusion of the building of the East Croydon bridge.

Menta Redrow are organising two public exhibitions at Oval Ark Academy:  on 18 May between 5 and 8 p.m. and on 20 May between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.   They expect to have their amended application before the Planning Committee in the Autumn of 2017,  before which the Council will carry out statutory consultation with residents.

Jerry Fitzpatrick

(ECCO member)

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