REPORT OF THE DISCUSSION OF THE PLANNING COMMITTEE OF THE LONDON BOROUGH OF CROYDON ON PLANNING APPLICATION (16/05511/PRE) SUBMITTED BY MENTA REDROW
Date of meeting: 6 April 2017
- The meeting was attended by members of the Planning Committee. Ward councillors were invited to attend, and were able to speak for a combined total of five minutes. Addiscombe councillors Sean Fitzsimons and Patricia Hay-Justice spoke, putting forward the views of ECCO members. I am very grateful to Sean and Patricia for their feedback, and also to Esther Sutton, member of the ECCO Steering Group, who attended the meeting to observe, and who has contributed to this report.
- On 5 April, I sent a summary of the representations made by ECCO members to the Chair of the Committee, Councillor Paul Scott, to the ward councillors, and to Gavin Barwell M.P.
- Councillor Scott replied by a helpful email as follows:
“The ‘applicants’ have entered into a pre-application process with the Council of which the presentation tomorrow only forms part. There have already been a series of meetings with officers and a presentation to our ‘Place Review Panel’. This dialogue will continue. Menta Redrow will be expected to carry out their own public consultation prior to making the application, and preferably at a stage when the design can be influenced. Only once (if) they make an application will the formal consultation be carried out. The extent to which Menta Redrow listen to the comments received will be up them of course. Any future application will be decided based upon whatever is submitted.”
- Members may be reassured, therefore, that before there is a final determination of the Menta Redrow application there will be public consultation undertaken by Menta Redrow and by the Council.
- This pre-application is an implicit acknowledgement from Menta Redrow that residents and local councillors were right about the unviability of their proposal to build 50 storey skyscrapers. It is a pity that it has taken eight years for Menta Redrow to reach this conclusion.
- This pre-application proposal is different from its predecessors as it only covers land owned by Menta Redrow, so does not include Network Rail land or the Porter and Sorter. This in an important point as access across Network Rail land is needed for the “Bridge to Nowhere” link.
- The pre-application is also different in that it is purely residential, and overall delivers slightly more housing than before. The previous proposal to build a hotel and small office block has now been dropped. This will probably disappoint residents who perceive the need for the provision of local employment as well as homes.
- What we now have is two residential tower blocks, the look of which is still yet to be outlined in any real detail.
- Residents will be pleased that the main points raised by our councillors on behalf of ECCO were endorsed by the committee. The three major points are as follows:
(i) a link to the “Bridge to Nowhere” should be delivered first;
(ii) the demand for the retention of the plane trees outside Cherry Orchard Gardens evoked strong support;
(iii) a significantly higher proportion of affordable housing is essential – a reasonable minimum figure is 30%.
- In respect of other points, there was:
- support for active street level shop fronts on the main buildings
- scepticism expressed about the large staircase and public plaza area, the main aim of which seems to use up section 106 money rather than to fund affordable housing
- preference for brick facades rather than metal or plastic cladding
- strong support for cycle provision, including the suggestion of a cycle hub near the entrance to station
- a request that the proposed disabled parking spaces in the the rear of Cherry Orchard Gardens be provided on street, to ensure that families have access to proper gardens
- a desire to consider the potential to deliver a cycle path from George Street to Cross Road
- support for the idea that Menta Redrow provide a community hub which is available not just for occupants but also the wider local community.
- The issue of the bridge link continues to highlight the narrowness of Menta Redrow’s vision. They seem to be closed to the idea of providing a final link across the Network Rail land. So we could end up with – in the words of Joy Prince (councillor for Waddon) – “a stairway to nowhere”!
- Menta Redrow says they will be ready in May with plans upon which there will be full public consultation, such plans to go before Committee for determination in June, and possibly the builders to be on site in July. We shall see!
- I will keep a watching brief on this, will liaise with elected representatives as required, and of course will be happy to receive and process any views of ECCO members.
Jerry Fitzpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)