CROYDON COUNCIL'S BRICK BY BRICK PLANS SLAMMED – "NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING INCLUDED" SAY NORWOOD SOCIETY

CROYDON COUNCIL’S BRICK BY BRICK PLANS SLAMMED – “NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING INCLUDED”  SAY NORWOOD SOCIETY

New developments by the Croydon-council owned Brick by Brick have no affordable housing included in them, say the Norwood Society.

Philip Goddard, who chairs the Society’s planning committee, says:

  • There was no affordable housing at Ravensdale Gardens, Upper Norwood – including a block of flats opposite Tivoili Lodge on Beulah Hill – which was approved last week by a Croydon council planning committee.
  • There is no affordable housing included in plans for 24 Station Road, South Norwood which go before a Croydon planning committee tonight (Thursday).
  • And the proposals for the Auckland Road estate which fronts Sylvan Hill and Church Road, Upper Norwood – which are being recommended for approval at committee next Wednesday May 24th – have no provision for housing to be let at less than market rents.

Mr Goddard says that at last week’s meeting the councillors spent most of the time discussing the size and design of the proposed block on the corner of Harold Road and Beulah Hill and its effect on the local heritage assets, especially Tivoli Lodge.

This is a subjective matter on which people can take different views, he says.

“What is not subjective is the failure to provide any affordable housing, which is directly contrary to both local and national policy, even though, as the officer’s report to committee itself makes clear, an independent viability assessment indicated that it was perfectly possible to provide affordable housing on this site.

“It should have been refused on these grounds alone, and certainly would have been had the application been made by a private developer. “But the issue was not even mentioned by any of the councillors who spoke in the debate.

“The problem is that providing affordable housing reduces the amount of profit which the council expects to make from Brick by Brick, so they feel entitled to drive a coach and horses through national and their own local policies.

“But private developers can’t get away with it like the council can.

“Anyone needing affordable housing in this area will be told to go and live somewhere else, whether they can or not.

“Exactly the same issue is coming up tonight (Thursday) when 24 Station Road, another Brick by Brick development, again without any provision for affordable housing, comes up at the committee. “John Hickman will be speaking against it on our behalf.

“Alison Butler who is the wife of Paul Scott the committee chairman has waxed enthusiastic about how Brick by Brick is providing affordable housing, which of course is precisely what they are not doing, at least in this part of the borough.”

Mr Goddard, who spoke as an objector at last week’s meeting,  said he made the point the application was in breach of both national – and local – policy in that it did not include any provision at all for affordable housing.

“The same is true of the other Brick by Brick applications, 24 Station Road South Norwood (which like this one has no provision for affordable housing at all) and the Auckland Road estate (which has no provision for housing to be let at less than market rents).

“Brick by Brick claim that the shortfall will be made up by housing units in developments in other parts of the borough.

“I pointed out in my submission that housing should be provided where people need it for work or family reasons and it is not acceptable for them to be simply told to go and live in another part of the borough.

“An independent viability review has concluded that affordable housing is entirely feasible in this development but Brick by Brick won’t provide it because it would reduce their profits.

“Notwithstanding the above the application was approved without the question of affordable housing even being mentioned during the committee debate.

“The councillors have clearly been told to disregard this issue when deciding applications submitted by Brick by Brick.

“If a private developer were to present such an application it would be unanimously rejected, but because it is presented by Croydon council’s own in house developer it seems that anything goes. “The whole thing is a scandal.”

Cllr Paul Scott, who chaired the committee, told News From Crystal Palace: “I suggest you read the committee paper which explains how the Brick by Brick schemes are being delivered in ‘tranches’ or groups of applications that will allow considerably more affordable housing to be delivered than if each site was considered individually.

“The Ravensdale Gardens will therefore make a considerable contribution to building a range of affordable homes in Croydon.

“This arrangement was discussed by the committee earlier in the meeting.”

UPDATE: Cllr Alison Butler issued the following statement via the council leader’s office to News From Crystal Palace: “In order to maximise the amount of affordable housing it delivers, Brick by Brick adopts a tranche based approach to affordable housing deliver.

“This means that it submits a set of sites to be considered as a group, with the group containing both private and affordable units.
“In this way, Brick by Brick aims to deliver 50 per cent affordable housing across all tranches in the smaller sites programme.
“By way of comparison, average affordable housing delivery by developers through the planning process over the last few years has been around 19pc.
“If Brick by Brick did not use the tranche based approach, many of the smaller sites within the programme which are currently delivering affordable units would not be required by policy to deliver affordable units and affordable provision across for the same sites would drop to 36pc.

“The site which Mr Goddard refers to below is within Tranche 2 which is delivering 44pc affordable housing.

“The affordable housing units contained within this tranche and other Brick by Brick tranches are geographically spread throughout the borough.
“For example, at least three Brick by Brick schemes containing affordable housing are within 1 mile of the Ravensdale Gardens site.

“This tranche based approach to affordable housing delivery was discussed and explained in detail at the planning committee meeting.”

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