Chairman’s Review 2021/2022
Croydon Council’s Overall Planning Policy
First and foremost I want to congratulate Jason and all those who helped him in becoming Mayor, not because he is a Conservative but because his policies show more respect to existing residents when planning applications are considered. Jason told us last year the first thing he would do would be to revoke SPD2 which contained the guidelines that facilitated – for us – inappropriate infill development and he did. Well done. We have subsequently seen the Planning Committee rejecting such development, some of it in our area. Well done again
Jason also told us it would take some time to replace SPD2 with a new framework. My advice to Jason and I know he does not need it is to come up with something as quickly as possible. This is to minimise the risks of developers launching appeals to the planning directorate and then winning them. We will wait to see progress on this matter.
I realise that to produce any new guidelines is not an easy matter especially as, if I understand this correctly, borough wide guidelines have to be in line with the overall London Plan. So good luck. My recommendations would be to prioritise development within areas of existing multi-dwelling development along the main roads. I know the last regime had intensification areas but these areas did not seem to stop developers from receiving permission to build just about anywhere they wanted.
At the 6-monthly meeting of the Residents Associations reps with the planning department at the beginning of the Summer it was explained to us that Croydon was meeting its overall new build target (around 2,000 per year) and was a bit behind on the “small site” developments (641 which is a subsection of the overall target). So the fact that the Council is meeting its overall target must also help in a way in framing policy -ie the Council will restrict small site development to sites of existing multi-dwelling units whilst the overall target is being met.
However we must not grumble too much. At the meeting some other of the RAs were complaining that there had been so much development in their areas that the services (such as health and schools and busses) and infrastructure ( specifically water and drainage) could not keep up.
We are not aware that we have the same general issues however I have heard some parents in the Ballards Farm part of our area mention that they cannot get their children into their preferred primary school and that they may soon be outside the catchment area of Coombe Wood School. We will look at this over the coming few months to see whether we also want to make this point to the planners at the next meeting.
The problem with making any representations to the planning department is that the have in the past not been very responsive. Lets see how that changes going forward.
The Government White paper on Planning
Last Year I thinked David Rutherford for putting in a lot of work in the CVRA response to the White Paper. 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 junked and there is comment in the press that the Government will introduce an ultra-local type policy along the lines of “if your block wants development then you can have it”.
We shall see.
Last year the Councillors undertook a survey of the residents of Melville, Castlemaine, Croham Park Avenue and Campden regarding increases in traffic and whether we wanted to have a Low Traffic Network classification for our roads. Whilst there was a feeling that traffic had increased there was no overall view on any type of scheme. I again thank the Councillors for this work.
However as many of you will be aware there are now plans to make Melville a Healthy School Street between 0800-0930 and 1400-1600 and restrict entry to residents. Some of us undertook a survey of traffic flows during a typical school day and we will report back to the Councillors to see how the flows change after implementation of the trial (if it goes ahad).
I suspect most of the Melville traffic will divert to Castlemaine and Croham Park Avenues and therefore if you want your objectives to be achieved (which includes less traffic overall) and you are going to implement for Melville you should implement for the other two as well. And if you implement for all three then you should implement for Campden as well.
If that does happen the irony is that you will have a scheme more stringent than a LTN – admittedly only for those particular times of the day.
Last year I wrote that previously residents of the roads around the back of the Old Whits have successfully warned off developers in their area by quoting their covenants and we seem this year to have successfully stopped development of 219 Farley Road, and 50 Castlemaine Avenue by quoting the covenants applicable there.
At the moment there are no developments in our area which have been approved where covenants are relevant. Although that might change soon if the approval of some back garden development in Castlemaine Avenue is approved.
Individual Planning Applications
David Rutherford has again done a fantastic job in identifying and organising our response to inappropriate applications in our area.
As previously mentioned, thankfully under the new regime applications going to the Planning Committee are mostly are being rejected however we must carry on on helping David to refer them by acting on his communications and putting in comments on the Council’s Planning Database. The more opposing comments there are it makes it easier for the Planning Committee to reject them.
The problem we see at present is because the Planning Department is so behind on making decisions, developers have the right to ask the Planning Inspectorate to make a decision if the Council’s timeline has been missed. We hope the department catches up soon.
Issues Raised from the Floor Last Year
It was asked why we can’t we use Conservation Area status to restrict development? Jason explained that CA protections were weakened by the current regime but he would consider reversing if he became Mayor. Jason advised us to consider whether we wanted to apply for CA status in anticipation of protections being reinstated.
We will look at this issue over the coming year.
A thank you to everybody who has helped this year.
It is appreciated.
His Honour William Barnett KC
Willie is deservedly stepping down as our President. Thank you for all your enthusiasm and wise advice over the years. I look forward to continuing to be your neighbour for many years to come.
17 October 2022