Chairman’s Report 2020/2021

Croydon Council’s Overall Planning Policy
I wrote last year that we were worried that the Council Plan (from 2018 plus revisions) had too high an overall target of small site ie: infill properties as a percent of the total.

At a meeting between resident associations and the planning department this Summer the Council confirmed the annual small site target was now 641 out of a total of 2000ish. This is a smaller percentage than we were talking about last year but the interesting thing to me was not the target but the apparent lack of control the Council seem to have over meeting or exceeding the target.

When we were told the that the current number of applications was such that the 641 units will be easily met in the near future, it was asked whether the Council would reject the application for the 642nd and subsequent units of small site development.

We were told that the Council will look to approve more than the target as some never get built and the target is a multi year thing and there will be some years with possibly fewer applications BUT that is partly irrelevant because every application is judged on its merits. If the Council rejects an application that is within the guidelines and the developer successfully appeals to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate then the Council will be fined.

Which makes sense but it does not give us any comfort. It also explains another complaint from a couple of the resident associations present that some of their areas were seeing more development than the designated Intensification Areas within the Borough.

And it explains why we are seeing so much development along Croham Road
By the Golf Club. If the developers want to develop somewhere, it is difficult to stop them even if the targets for that area have already been exceeded.

I suggested to the Council that they might have more discretion than claimed as they have recently been rejecting more applications because of excess “masss and bulk” of the planned buildings. Thinking of the current plans for The Gallop I asked that – if there was some discretion – the planners should consider rejecting marginal application within the smaller more residential sections of roads within Croydon and possibly approving the marginal decisions on the more main roads. We shall see.

The Government White paper on Planning
Last Year David Rutherford put in a lot of work in putting forward the CVRA response to the White Paper. The response is on our website. The gist of the proposals was to put more emphasis on the overall area planning stage with less emphasis on individual applications. The look and feel of new residential buildings will be governed more by a pre-agreed design book.

These plans have now been put on hold for a Gove review. Watch this space.

Coombe Wood School
The residents of Melville are continuing to monitor traffic at dropping off and picking up times as the new school has relocated back to Melville Avenue.

The local residents believe the long term solution is a “school street”, a no dropping off scheme which is primarily a primary school thing but has been extended to include at least one secondary school.

Other Traffic Issues
Residents of Castlemaine, Croham Park Avenue and Campden have noticed an increase in traffic since Melville has been made one way. We asked the Councillors for these roads to conduct a survey as to whether residents want a Low Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme or some other restriction or the status quo. The Councillors have kindly agreed to this and we are awaiting the results.

Covenant
As you may know almost all the area within the CVRA contains covenants requested by either the Whitgift Foundation in the North of our area or by the trustees of the estate of C. H. Groschen Esq in the South of our area. These covenants were requested at the time these landlords sold off their estates around 120 years ago.

Residents of the roads around the back of the Old Whits have successfully warned off developers in their area by quoting the covenants and we are now helping residents oppose the development of 219 Farley Road, 50 Castlemaine Avenue and 80 Croham Road by quoting the covenants.

We might have missed the boat in trying to use the covenants to stop development around the Golf Club as developers can now probably correctly claim that the character of that area has now changed and the covenants are no longer relevant.

Individual Planning Applications
David Rutherford has again done a fantastic job in identifying and organising our response to inappropriate applications in our area.

Last year I wrote that three applications for developments in Croham Valley road were approved in one meeting. Each of the three were inappropriate in their own ways but the Council seem to look for reasons to justify rather than rule out.

I said that going forward we hoped the Council feels a little more sympathetic under their changed circumstances.

Well it looks like that might be happening. Applications at the top of Ballards Way and on the corner of Croham Valley Road and the Ruffets have been rejected. The latter would have been the first large development in the Ballards Farm Area, where for some reason there are no covenants.

The real test is the application for complete overdevelopment in The Gallop. If that is approved then not much has changed. We shall see.

Lastly on planning 148 Ballards Way is finished and the actual building confirms our view that the design is completely out of keeping with the surrounding buildings.

Last year we asked the Ombudsman to look at the details of the committee meeting where the design was approved as we felt some of the comments from Councillor Scott downplayed the differences with the existing housing stock. The request was rejected as it was not submitted by an immediate neighbour.

Given the Ombudsman could not overturn the decision – just give Councillor Scott a reprimand if there was miss-information given at the Planning Meeting and as Councillor Scott is no longer on the Planning Committee, I have withdrawn the request.

A thank you to everybody who has helped this year.

It is appreciated.

Paul Sowan
You may have seen the tributes Paul- our archivist – a genuinely charming man. I represented us at his service at Croydon Crematorium. The room was full. All we can ask really.

Jeremy Gill
5 October 2021