A huge crowd of residents from across Croydon flocked to the Town Hall on Monday night to protest against planning decisions made by the Labour run Council. Croydon Conservatives stood up for residents with two separate motions to improve planning processes – only to be ignored by Labour, just as they ignore residents every single day.
Dozens of residents showed their anger at Labour’s failure to build family homes, instead bulldozing detached houses to replace them with one and two-bedroomed flats. These flats are frequently being built in suburban locations, well away from stations and town centres where single people or couples who wish to live in small flats are most likely want to live. Labour’s own Local Plan says that 30% of the homes built in Croydon should be family homes, and that larger developments in suburban locations should be made up of 70% family homes. Labour’s current approach to planning sees family homes make up just 20% of homes given planning permission, with very little distinction between town centres and suburban locations.
Without building family homes, Labour risks losing Croydon’s great sense of community, as young people move into the area to buy a small flat, and move out when they want a forever home for their family.
The first motion proposed by the Conservatives to tackle this problem was to introduce area planning committees. These would mean planning decisions would be taken by Councillors representing wards close to the site of the application, who can work more closely with residents to deliver the housing the town needs in a way which fits the character of the area.
Scott Roche proposed the motion, saying,
“It is seen by most residents and community groups that this Labour administration is just not listening.”
“Residents across the borough have lost faith in our planning system. They have lost faith with this Labour Administration. There are many examples across the UK where Area Planning Committees are already in place, successfully, and constructively, working together with the local communities. We believe that an Area Planning Committee system, would help bring the planning process closer to the community, restoring faith in our planning system within Croydon, to help reverse the damage caused by this Labour administration.”
The Conservatives’ second motion to protect the character of Croydon was to ask Labour to think again over its plans for intensification of the suburbs, known as SPD2. A consultation on this plan, which gives a greenlight for even more back garden developments in the suburbs and bulldozing of family homes to build blocks of flats than is already seen, received hundreds of responses, but Labour voted through the document with barely and changes.
Jason Perry, Conservative planning lead, proposed to refer the plan back to Cabinet, calling it a ‘blueprint for developers’.
“This document fails to protect character, makes no allowance for the cumulative impact that must follow intensification and is open to interpretation,” he said.
“The Labour Council has not listened. It must take this plan back to Cabinet, properly review the responses from residents and ensure that this document works for all the people of Croydon.”
Despite the popularity of both motions with the residents in attendance, who loudly cheered at the proposals made by Conservative Councillors. The Labour Council proved once again however that it has no interest in listening to residents. It rejected both motions as senior Labour Councillors insulted the residents in the gallery. Labour’s destruction of Croydon’s suburbs is set to continue.