Saturday October 31, 2020
  • Site last updated at 1:13am on Thursday 22nd October 2020.

A Joint Statement by Riddlesdown, Hartley & District, Sanderstead, East Coulsdon, Coulsdon West, Old Coulsdon and Kenley & District Residents’ Associations.

The seven RAs in the south of the borough learnt with great surprise on Monday 3 December that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government (James Brokenshire) had overturned Croydon Council's planning decision on the 17 storey Purley tower (19 storeys in total) and other associated proposals for the two sites fronting Banstead Rd, Purley.

Following the Public Inquiry in January 2018, the Planning Inspector (David Nicholson; a Chartered Architect) had recommended approving the scheme but this recommendation and Croydon Council's decision has been overturned by the Secretary of State. This decision is subject to any appeal to the High Court by an involved party, which must be made by 15 January 2019.

Following Croydon Council’s decision to approve the scheme in December 2016, the seven RAs received many comments and objections from our members (as well as the thousands of local objections sent to the Council and our MP) and the Riddlesdown RA wrote to Chris Philp in December 2016 suggesting the options available to him on a possible ‘Call In’ on the planning decision to the Secretary of State. The RAs went along this route, via our MP, as the advice we received was that our MP would have more influence with the Secretary of State, rather than the seven RAs going direct to the Secretary of State.

Following the ‘Call In’ being granted, the RAs were then given a Rule 6 status so we could cross examine witnesses at the Inquiry. The RAs had available in their group, two Chartered Surveyors, an Architect, a Chartered Town Planner and a key member of the East Surrey Transport Committee. We also received further advice from professionally qualified residents, including a commercial property lawyer and two Town Planners. Many hundreds of voluntary hours have been spent by the group in putting together their case and this culminated in a Public Inquiry in January where five members of the RAs team faced stiff opposition from two eminent and highly qualified planning barristers, for both the applicant and the Council.

It is interesting to note that Secretary of State overturned the Inspector’s recommendation on a number of key points, some of which the seven RAs had raised at the outset of the Inquiry process, in our Statement of Case submitted to the Planning Inspector in December 2017.

These included:

i) the standard of design was not of high enough quality;

ii) the height of the tower exceeded the description in the Croydon Local Plan and that no specific justification had been given in either the Local Plan, or in the application, to support the height of this site as proposed, having regard to its relationship with the existing built urban form and that some parts of the scheme were not of exceptional quality;

iii) that there would be a clear negative impact on the former bank building at 960 Brighton Road (now Pizza Express) and the rest of the Brighton Road Local Heritage Areas.

The seven RAs are not gloating about this decision, as we realise this will have a huge impact on the Purley Baptist Church.

We also do not support the political points scoring exercise that has taken place since the decision by both the main political parties in Croydon, in the media and on social networks. The seven RAs are not opposed to new development, as we understand that growth will be key to the future vitality and viability of suburban District Centres like Purley. The RAs recognise the acute housing needs in the area and we wish to see more new homes that are genuinely affordable provided for local people. We support new development that has a positive impact on the area’s urban environment, public realm and provides social and economic benefits to the wider community.

We accept this decision is not going to please all residents in Purley and also the Purley & Woodcote RA (PWRA) who supported the scheme, but the seven RAs and many of our members believe that it will be in the best interests of Purley, in the long term.

The seven RAs would like to be involved and work with the Purley Baptist Church and the PWRA for the future of the two sites and we fully support the work the Church do for all the community in Purley.

The full text of the Secretary of State’s decision is on this link;

This is not the first time the seven southern RAs have joined together as one group to make joint representations about local matters to Purley. The seven RAs formed a group in 2014, following the decision by the Croydon CCG to scale down the Urgent Care provision at Purley Hospital. We were instrumental in meeting with the Croydon CCG and persuading them to change their minds regarding the downgrading of the opening times for the Urgent Care Centre at Purley Hospital. With persistence on our part and numerous meetings with the CCG they agreed to provide three GP hubs in the Borough of Croydon from April 2017, which included the GP hub at Purley Hospital. All these hubs which now have a GP based at them, are open for 12 hours a day for urgent care health services, rather than 6 hours previously. We will continue to work together for the benefit of all residents in Purley, Sanderstead, Kenley, Coulsdon and other surrounding areas.

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