Coulsdon's future debated
25/04/2016 07:34:00......Posted by Luke Clancy
On April 4 Cllr Jeet Bains and I presented at the Purley & Coulsdon Debating Society with Maureen Levy, Secretary of East Coulsdon Residents’ Association. We debated the motion ‘Croydon Council is destroying Coulsdon. Proposing the motion, Maureen gave a passionate speech steeped in local history displaying a wide and varied knowledge of the area. I was invited to oppose the motion but as I said to the debate’s organisers I was not in a position where I could realistically oppose it, as I was in agreement with Maureen – broadly - on a number of points. I proposed an amendment to the motion that instead ‘Labour is destroying not only Coulsdon but the whole of Croydon.’ Unfortunately the Society said its rules did not allow amendments to motions.
Nevertheless, we debated, and I focused on Coulsdon issues and my colleague Cllr Jeet Bains addressed the Society on a number of issues affecting the wider borough. I voiced talked principally about parking, traffic and the closure of the CALAT centre.
Lion Green Road car park closed in July 2015 with a commitment to start constructing a new Waitrose the next day. Nothing happened for seven months. Residents and small, local businesses were deprived of crucial parking spaces and were also denied the promised new development. The Council estimates over £88,000 of pay and display income and more than £23,000 of season ticket income has been lost due to the needless seven-month long closure.
Cllr Tony Newman, the Labour leader of our Council, has recently dismissed complaints about the chronic lack of parking and branded Coulsdon residents as "from a bygone era" for wanting to use cars.
The town needs all the parking possible and many more bays for shoppers, workers and businesses. It’s welcome the front part of Lion Green Road car park is back in use. But the rest of the car park should be brought back into temporary use until building works start. To add more parking capacity, the wider Woodcote Grove Road Entrance to the small CALAT car park should be constructed as soon as possible.
In addition to the measures I’ve just outlined to ameliorate the parking crisis that has developed in Coulsdon other solutions include exploring the idea for a Park and Ride service operating out of the Ullswater Industrial Estate, pressuring Transport for London to allow parking on the bypass and asking Barretts to allow temporary parking at Cane Hill.
Let’s not forget either that the Labour manifesto stated that they did explicitly promise to have one hour free parking in District Centres. The proposed reduction to 30 minutes proves their duplicity. For older and disabled people to park in Lion Green Road and go to the other end of town will be difficult and unreasonable.
When the council consulted on this issue a couple of years ago, traders voted clearly to stay as we are. One hour free parking along the main shopping high street allows small local shops to compete fairly with supermarkets with large free car parks. In 2009, when the Conservatives were in power, nearly 1000 people sent in objections to the council Pay & Display scheme. The Council listened and as a result residents won their campaign for one hour free parking on the Brighton Road. It remains to be seen if Labour will listen as the Conservatives did then.
Cane Hill is foremost in the minds of many Coulsdon residents is the need to provide adequate access into and out of the development. I believe it’s essential that the Council keeps an open mind over the need for a southern access road to the A23. But Labour hasn’t done this. Following the local elections in 2014, conversations with the new Leader of the Council did lead councillors in Coulsdon West to understand that this option remains on the table, and we welcomed that.
But since then there has been no action on the matter. It should be noted that the Council isn't the only body with a say in the matter however as the Greater London Assembly will also need to give its permission.
Cane Hill is of course a massive undertaking. The former psychiatric hospital will be replaced by 675 homes and three thousand square metres of business premises. In Croydon, under London Plan targets, the borough must build 14,000 residential units over ten years. Cane Hill will contribute five percent of that.
But the scale of shouldering a development like Cane Hill is leading many local people to question what benefits are being delivered in return. Coulsdon residents ask, if they accommodate thousands of new neighbours, how will public services be improved in response?
Since May 2014 the Council has received £2.9 million in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) from developments in Coulsdon. The overall borough’s CIL income is currently £4.7 million. Coulsdon then is contributing over sixty percent of the borough’s CIL. In addition, if all outstanding planning consents in Coulsdon were commenced approximately £5.3 million of the borough’s CIL would be payable.
It will have escaped no one’s attention that the CALAT centre in Coulsdon has closed. The Council claimed the curriculum offered in Coulsdon did not deliver national priorities for adult learning funding. As a result Coulsdon students will now need to travel to Croydon Clocktower, Thornton Heath or New Addington. We will have no such education provision in the south of the borough.
It is instructive that the Labour-run council has opted to close the one CALAT centre in the largely Tory-voting south of the borough.
This site has been a cornerstone of learning in the Coulsdon area, and provided education and learning in subjects from flower arranging to English for many residents.
It is another example of the way in which Labour thinks it can ignore the needs of Cousldon.
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Letter to save the Coulsdon Medical Centre
06/04/2018 12:33:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Following the surprising news that the Care Quality Commission are to close the Coulsdon Medical Centre, we wrote to Sir David Behan (the CEO) for an explanation.
Dear Sir David,
Coulsdon Medical Practice, 66 Brighton Road, Coulsdon, S CR5 3EE
We write as representatives of the Coulsdon West ward of the London Borough of Croydon to register our strong objections to the closure of the above Medical Practice in our ward.
Our residents have benefitted from the excellent service provided at the Centre for many years and we fail to understand why the practice is to close when the demand for services in the area is increasing.
Locally, we are seeing the development of the Cane Hill site which when completed will bring over 600 houses and many more residents to the area, all requiring the services of local doctors. Now is the time for health provision in the area to expand not contract.
We believe there are over 3500 patients registered at the practice. How do they go about registering with another GP?
We would appreciate your justification for the closure together with some explanation as to how the health provision will be increased elsewhere to cover the closure of the practice and to meet the ever growing demand locally.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Luke Clancy. Cllr Mario Creatura and Ian Parker (candidate)
Labour's track record - not something to be proud of
27/03/2018 16:13:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Last night I was pleased to speak against Labour's debate motion in the final Council meeting before the local elections. Their motion read:
'This Council recognises the achievements of this administration including delivering, the London Living Wage, Private landlords licensing scheme, Don͛t Mess with Croydon, Pride Festival, White Ribbon Borough, Fairfield Halls regeneration, Improving Schools, Choose your future, Investment in services for older people, affordable housing for local people and much more, Croydon is a place that all our residents are increasingly proud of. However there is still much more to do to secure Croydon's long term future, and our town cannot afford to go back to the years of cuts, closures and austerity.
You can watch my contribution here, or read a transcript below:
Thank you Madam Mayor, in rising to speak to Labour’s motion I have to admit to being a little, well, disappointed. If this is intended to be a list of their greatest successes in the last four years then it’s a little pathetic. With a genuinely heavy heart I’ll explain why.
They highlight the landlord licensing scheme, more commonly known as the Tenant Tax, touted at improving the living standards of renters across the borough it forced our 30,000 private sector landlords in Croydon to pass the £750 license fee to their tenants. It’s raised tens of millions - but how many dodgy landlords have been prosecuted by our Labour Council? Newham prosecuted over 1,000 – Croydon has prosecuted ONE - one single solitary person last year.
I’m bemused that they’re proud about ‘Don’t Mess With Croydon’. Proud of the 64% increase in fly-tipping since they took over the running of the Council compared to just 12% across London. Proud of the reduction in recycling rates since 2014. Proud of sacking 20 street cleaners. They shouldn’t be proud, they should be ashamed.
They boast about Fairfield Halls being regenerated – but they forget to mention the hundreds of passionate performers, expert technicians, and loyal locals marched on the Town Hall to stop its complete closure. They won’t mention the thousands who petitioned to beg them to stop – thousands who Labour didn’t listen to. Lo and behold Labour Leader admitted last month the delivery date has slipped – again – this time by a whole year. Is that something to be proud of?
The claim they’re building affordable housing is similarly ludicrous - the Labour Mayor of London’s stats show that last year just 5% of all new builds in Croydon were affordable. In their manifesto they say ‘we’ll provide more Council homes’ but in 2017 this Labour administration announced it would be shutting down the Council House Building Scheme. Since 2014 not one Council house brick has been laid. In 2016 Cllr Newman tweeted ‘Proud Croydon Labour is delivering 50% affordable housing… that’s why I’m supporting Owen Smith.’ Guess you were wrong on both counts eh?
Their 30-page long 2014 manifesto was branded ‘Ambitious for Croydon’. It contained some 109 pledges but here they highlight just 10 they feel deserve of praise. But every single one is either a half-truth, a distortion of reality or taking credit for something started by others.
In conclusion, Labour’s 2014 manifesto serves as a monument to failure – and the nearly 400,000 local residents they have let down.
I oppose this motion.
My Lion Green Road objection
23/03/2018 11:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
17/06297/FUL – Lion Green Road (redevelopment of site to provide 5no. five, six, seven storey buildings providing 96 one bedroom, 42 two bedroom and 19 three bedroom flats: provision of vehicular access, residential and town centre car parking spaces, hard and soft landscaping works and new private and public amenity space.)
That’s 237 bedrooms.
116 public car parking spaces and 45 residential car parking spaces – for 237 bedrooms.
If we assume every bedroom has a driver, which is possible, then that means we are deficient in 192 car parking spaces.
If we assume there’s just one vehicle per flat, which is highly unlikely, then that’s 112 residential parking spaces extra that we need for this plan to work. If we halve that then we are still out by 11.
The main reason for my objection to the plan for Lion Green Road is this – where do those new residents and their vehicles go?
The current Lion Green Road car park has over 100 of its 115 spaces used nearly all day. In the context of the rest of the town, there is no argument for adding a further 237 plus residents and their inevitable vehicles
- The CALAT car park has 35 well-used spaces.
- Aldi car park is often full with four or more queuing and over-flowing into the main road, obstructing public transport and other vehicles. I’m pleased to be meeting with the Property Director next month to try to work out a solution on that.
- Waitrose car park likewise is often full with a couple queuing and some obstruction of passing traffic.
- The side roads with free bays or no controls are also heavily parked - notably The Avenue, The Grove and South Drive. Other roads with no charges are also well parked.
- During peak times traffic is jammed from the Lion Green Road junction with Chipstead Valley Road and backs all the way down that road to often as far as Barrie Close and the traffic is practically gridlocked on Lion Green Road.
This is not the first time that I’ve made this argument to this committee – imagine you own a car, and you have gone through the stress and strain and bought a flat in this 157 flat development.
You’re told that there are 45 residential car parking spaces. Do you sell your car, knowing the odds are you’ll not be able to part? Or do you chance it? You think about all those trips to the North Downs or out into Chipstead and Hooley and greater Surrey. The reason why you moved to Coulsdon! Of course you chance it. Because you simply don’t think that someone else will have the same idea. Only they all do. And they all add their vehicles into our town.
If nothing else, listen to the residents. Residents in Coulsdon are reasonable. That’s why I’ve no problem at all with the two proposals for the applications for the land west of Malcolm Road and the former CALAT centre. Both have more support than objections.
But in this case there objectors include: Chris Philp and Crispin Blunt MP; Hartley and District Residents’ Association; Hooley Residents’ Association; Chipstead Residents’ Association; Steve O’Connell; Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association.
And 256 real people objecting. 256 people saying, please don’t do this to our town. 256 people saying – think again.
I’d urge the committee to support them.
My Coulsdon Community Centre objection
23/03/2018 11:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
17/06216/FUL – Community Centre on Barrie Close - demolition of existing community centre and erection of 33 residential units comprising 4 one bedroom flats, 12 two bedroom flats and 17 three bedroom houses, together with provision of car parking, landscaping and other associated works).
Two strands to my argument against this plan – the first is that there is no need to demolish a beloved community centre and relocate it in the first place, and the second is that what will be constructed there is deeply unpopular with some 165 of my residents.
There is no compelling case for Brick by Brick to demolish and relocate the Coulsdon Community Centre given its immense popularity with the thousands of residents who use it on a regular basis. It has a 95% usage rate and the car park is full most of the time. It is used by parents taking their children to classes, it’s used by elderly residents with mobility issues who need to park close to the centre, and everyone in between. It is used for our surgeries often accompanied by the regular Zumba class!
Parking is already very heavily congested at the section of Chipstead Valley Road that the Centre currently occupies, including the perpendicular roads of Coniston and Sherwood. One space per property for 33 properties is not enough for these new builds and will only make parking worse for those residents already in the locale - particularly those in Barrie Close.
As the new proposed development is up hill from existing properties residents have contacted me fearing that they will be able to look down directly into bedrooms and bathrooms of existing properties, seriously affecting privacy and security.
The 21st November 2017 Development Presentations for item 5.1 of the Committee Planning Agenda state:
“It is considered that 3 storeys would be an appropriate maximum height for the properties to avoid the development having an overbearing impact on the surrounding 2 storey context. It is important that only the rooftops of the properties are visible through the trees from the surrounding area to be consistent with local character.”
The design of four storeys high is therefore contradictory to the council’s own development presentation. A reduction in the height/size of the development should be considered to mitigate these very real fears.
It is well known that the sewage system on this part of Chipstead Valley Road has overflown several times in recent years, adding this many properties to the outflow without heavily investing in underground sewage infrastructure is believed it will only make the problem worse. There appears to be no guarantee from the developer that this will be improved should these additional residents move in to the congested area.
There are a large number of other residential developments that are either in construction, have been recently finished or have recently been approved including the hundreds of homes on Cane Hill, the Lion Green Car Park development, new flats at 177 Chipstead Valley Road, new flats at 193/195 Chipstead Valley Road etc. all with insufficient parking provision. Altogether, this will result in around an extra 900 dwellings in Coulsdon. Without any planned changes to the town’s infrastructure – especially with regard to trains, roads and schools – this is a clear case of over-development of Coulsdon more broadly.
The loss of the existing Coulsdon Community Centre building would be a sad event for the history of Coulsdon. The building dates to 1935 and has much architectural and historic interest to the local community. It is well-used, with 95% occupancy rate. Last year Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Labour Cabinet Member for culture, praised the community services offered by the Coulsdon Community Centre and has cited it repeatedly as an example of best practice in the borough. Demolishing this Centre seems entirely contradictory, hypocritical and destructive to our community.
Again, I ask the committee to listen to the residents of my ward. Listen to the two MPs and the residents’ association who have deep concerns. They are not being unreasonable, they have legitimate concerns as I have outlined and 165 have taken the time to write to object and ask you to think again.
Objectors include Chris Philp and Crispin Blunt MP, Hooley Residents’ Association. The Coulsdon Community Centre is against/neutral.
Labour dominated planning committee approve controversial Coulsdon schemes
23/03/2018 11:26:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Sadly last night our Labour-dominated Planning Committee decided to ignore the hundreds of local residents who objected to the intensive development of Lion Green Road and the demolition of the much-loved Coulsdon Community Centre and grant two controversial local schemes.
256 residents and local businesses objected to the former, 165 for the latter. Naturally I am very dissapointed by the result, but I'm more concerned by the strain that these 190 new properties will add to the infrastructure of our town.
The Croydon Advertiser has covered the result of the meeting on their website, it's well worth a read.
My objections to the plans are laid out below but you can watch it and access the contributions of others by clicking the link in the headings.
Woodcote Medical Centre
21/03/2018 15:35:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Residents are understandably concerned about rumours that Dr Khan’s Coulsdon practice will have to close - leaving some 4,000 patients without a GP.
We've contacted the Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group who looks after such matters who tell us: “We are aware of the situation regarding The Coulsdon Medical Practice. We are committed to working with the practice and the Care Quality Commission, as the national organisation responsible for inspecting the quality of health services, to ensure that all registered patients have access to the best possible GP services in Croydon.”
We've asked them to keep us updated with the very latest news on this important local service.
The Citiscape Tribunal decision
15/03/2018 20:52:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
As someone like you who lives in the CitiScape building, I wrote to my fellow neighbours following the recent tribunal decision that replacing the cladding on our Croydon housing block should be paid for by we residents.
It is clearly not the residents fault that the cladding needs replacing and it seems very unfair that we are being asked to pay for it.
The Judge in the Tribunal case said that the developer of the building, the warranty provider (the building control company) or even the Council, if they signed off the work as safe, could be liable to pay for the work.
If elected me, Ben and Elizabeth will fully support residents in pursuing these potentially liable parties.
I will continue my regular contact with the Citiscape Residents’ Group to see if there is anything they would like particular support with in continuing this important fight.
If any neighbours would like to arrange a time for me to pop by to discuss any of this, do get in touch as above and I’d be happy to meet.
Aldi replies - and wants to meet
14/03/2018 17:24:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
At the start of the month we wrote to the CEO of Aldi UK to see if he would be willing to help fix the intolerable gridlock outside their very popular Coulsdon store.
We're grateful that he replied very swiftly which you can read here.
We're in the process of trying to agree a meeting time for both Aldi, Council Officers, Councillors and TfL.
The saga with the Coulsdon Town toilet continues
07/03/2018 09:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I've just been informed that the Council's Neighbourhood Safety Manager met with their contractors last week and they are in the process of ordering the replacement parts for the broken toilet door. These will hopefully be in by early next week and I'm told the Council will have the toilets open as soon as possible.
The Neighbourhood Safety South team are due to start some local engagement activities with businesses and residents. They are essentially looking to see if anyone can provide them with information as to whom may be responsible for vandalising of the toilet. It does seem rather coincidental that the same type of damage appears to occur on a semi regular basis. Hopefully this work will bear fruit and the Council can work with the SNT to stop the vandalism permanently.
The emergency button inside the WC isn't working at present. The Council accepts the delay on fixing this is not good enough and has resolved to do their best to speed maintenance up.
I've sent in several additional questions (including the potential use of camera's) and I'm told I'll receive a response in the near future.
Traffic around Howard Primary School
04/03/2018 20:59:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
A while ago we visited Southbridge Road to introduce ourselves as the Conservative candidates for Croydon Town Centre – Fairfield Ward in the local council elections in May 2018.
During our visit some residents nformed us that they were concerned about the traffic management/road layout around Howard Primary School due to difficulties in crossing the road and the knock on effect of the safety of school children.
We have been working with council officers on this issue to try to help deal with some of the concerns.
Council officers have stated that requests for road safety measures around school sites are usually dealt with through the school travel plan process, where schools can identify the problems and issues faced by their pupils and parents concerning highway safety on their journeys to school and present them in a clear format called the travel plan document.
This process enables funding to be secured for the investigation and development of suitable safety measures and solutions where appropriate. However, at the present time difficulties crossing the roads around Howard Primary School have not been mentioned in the schools current travel plan.
Council officers have stated that it would be useful to understand further the details of residents' concerns. For information, they have stated that a zebra crossing has recently been introduced on Bramley Hill near to its junction with Southbridge Road and a further one is planned later this year on Warham Road near to Nottingham Road.
Clive Whittle, one of the senior engineers has offered for residents to contact him directly with any concerns so that they can be discussed further. His contact details are Clive.Whittle@Croydon.gov.uk.
I hope this reassures residents that the issue is being managed, if you have any other questions about this or your local area, specifically that the council can deal with then please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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