OPINION: WHICH COUNCIL-OWNED COMPANY WANTS TO BUILD ON CHALKLAND WHICH IS CURRENTLY HOME TO BATS, BADGERS, DEER AND THE RARE JERSEY TIGER MOTH? Unfortunately, planning permission is 100 per cent guaranteed. Because the answer is Croydon – and this is a Brick by Brick application…..

FIRSTLY, THE NEWS: The following appeal to sign a petition opposing plans to build on chalkland in the borough of Croydon has appeared on Crystal Palace Local Facebook:

Hello all! Please could you give a look at this petition to save a rare type of green space that we are lucky to have in Croydon. Chalk grassland is one of the best types of landscape for biodiversity but unfortunately, the majority of it has been lost since World War 2. 50% of the whole world’s surviving chalkland is in the UK and Croydon has a large chunk of that percentage thanks to many people who have worked hard over the decades to protect it. Please sign to protect this bit of chalk grassland that the Council is trying to build on, and write to your local MP! Thank you.

Responding,Ellinor Michel said:

This habitat is worth preserving. Chalk downland supports a lot of biodiversity and the ground is particularly good at absorbing water, limiting flooding and conserving our fresh water supplies.
Wondering what you can do about this weekend’s floods? A signature from you is a start.

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“OUR VIEWS ARE BEING COMPLETELY IGNORED”

The Change.org petition headed: Save our Chalk Grasslands! Save Wontford Road Green from Croydon Council Development! reads as follows:

Croydon Council’s ‘Habitat Action Plan’ states that their aim is to conserve, protect and restore Croydon’s chalk grasslands. 

Yet there are plans to build new homes on Wontford Road Green, in the London Borough of Croydon, which is just that, chalk grassland.

Being one of the most endangered habitats in Britain.

Croydon council also state, in their ‘Habitat Action Plan’, that meadow and other species-rich grasslands now cover less than one per cent of the UK. They state they are an important home for pollinators also helping to prevent floods and store carbon.

When left to grow, just before the grass is cut by Croydon council, there is a wide variety of flora and fauna that has been observed and recorded on this site. Including: oxe-eye daises, field scabious, hoary plantain, yarrow, red clover, bird’s foot trefoil, bladder campion, wild basil, lesser knapweed, common dog violet and swathes of meadow buttercups.

The area is currently home to some protected wildlife species including: bats (which clearly feed on the rich supply of invertebrates), badgers and slow worms. We also have roe deer and tawny owls that you can hear at night. There have been sightings of the Jersey Tiger moth (nationally scarce) and Chalkhill Blue butterfly (flagship species ‘Habitat Action Plan’).

The neighbouring gardens are home to an even more diverse range of flora and fauna (also recorded and all self sown), such as: wild marjoram and the pyramidal orchid (both listed in the ‘Habitat Action Plan’ as flagship species). There are also: wild primroses, common ragwort, evening primrose, cowslip, wild teasel, salad burnet, spear thistle, red valerian, ribwort plantain, scarlet pimpernel, wild strawberry, field pansy, perforate st john’s wort and that’s not all.

The plans to build are not only a threat to the natural environment but will also have a negative impact on the local community. The proposed plans of 9 houses and a block of flats 4 storeys high, are totally out of keeping with the area. You can see the plans here:* https://kenley.commonplace.is/

Without a doubt these new homes would invade privacy, cause parking congestion, noise and light pollution and add to the risk of flooding that already occurs with the increasing amount of flash floods.

The development would absolutely disturb the special wildlife of this area, as the ‘Brick by Brick’ timeline states that building work would take approximately a year and a half.

The green was nominated back in July 2019 as a ‘Local Green Space’ with around 200 signatures. However, very soon after our entry, Croydon Council’s in-house development company ‘Brick by Brick’, delivered leaflets informing the surrounding neighbourhood that they had plans to build on it. The reviews for our nomination won’t occur until 2021. Our voice is being totally ignored.

Unfortunately, the UK commitment to halt overall loss of biodiversity by 2020, in line with the European Biodiversity Strategy and UN Aichi targets, is being passed down to local authorities to implement, mainly through planning policy.

The government encourage local authorities to look at brownfield sites and empty properties that are not being used to create new homes, in order to tackle Britain’s housing crisis. This green is a natural beauty spot, it’s astonishing it should even be considered for development.

Please support us in our plea to protect this important piece of chalk grassland from development, for the future of our environment, generations of wildlife and our own population to come.

We have a deadline, time is short. The plans are due to be put before the Council’s planning committee in early Feb 2020 (no finalised date as of yet).

We ask Croydon Council to:

a) retract their plans for development on Wontford Road Green. 

b) honour our ‘Local Green Space’ nomination. Giving it protection against development and to conserve it for the importance of it’s biodiversity.

c) work with a voluntary group to return it back to it’s full ecological potential. (Words placed in bold by News From Crystal Palace – Ed.)

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OPINION

Going to this link, it says it’s an assessment of the borough’s proposed local green spaces that will be designated by the Croydon local plan

The action plan opens with a quotation: ‘Earth laughs in flowers…’(Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803- 1882)

It then states:

  • Aims
  • To conserve, protect and restore Croydon’s chalk grasslands
  • To promote public understanding of the importance of chalk grassland

And there’s more:

3: Current Status

…………………There are about 390 hectares of chalk grassland in London, just over 3% of the total area of chalk grassland found in southeast England. This is distributed across a number of sites within five boroughs: Croydon (184 ha) Bromley (162 ha), Sutton (48 ha), Hillingdon (6 ha), and Lewisham (<1 ha). Most of these sites lie on the northern parts of the North Downs, especially along the slopes of a number of dry valleys in Bromley and Croydon.

Croydon’s chalk grassland supports a range of protected species. Of particular importance are greater yellow-rattle and small blue butterfly. Greater yellow-rattle is a nationally rare plant, which has the bulk of its UK population on London chalk grassland. The small blue butterfly is found on two sites in Croydon. Other protected species associated with Croydon’s chalk grassland include common lizard, slow-worm, adder and badger.

Either it’s chalkland. Or it isn’t.

Regular readers will recall that every single application by Brick by Brick – which is 100 per cent owned by Croydon council – has been granted permission.

We have also said in the past that where Croydon council give Brick by Brick planning permission, private developers will be able to use those permissions in support of any future planning applications they make.

Please see some of our previous news articles (and opinion pieces) on the subject, including:

AUCKLAND RISE: DEVELOPERS CAN APPEAL – BUT PEOPLE CAN’T Steve O’Connell highlights planning law flaw February 1st 2017

EYESORE FLATS SET TO GET GO-AHEAD May 10th 2017

CROYDON COUNCIL’S BRICK BY BRICK PLANS SLAMMED – “NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING INCLUDED” SAY NORWOOD SOCIETY May 18th 2017

AUCKLAND RISE: CONTROVERSIAL PLANS SET TO BE APPROVED DESPITE NUMEROUS REASONS FOR ‘NO DEVELOPMENT’ May 23rd 2017

PLANNING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN DEFENDS DECISION ON AUCKLAND RISE SPEAKERS – Steve Reed and Steve O’Connell prohibited from voicing their views on controversial proposals June 2nd 2017

LABOUR COUNCILLOR CRITICISES BRICK BY BRICK September 13th 2019

CROYDON COUNCIL SELLING OFF PARCELS OF LAND FOR JUST ONE POUND EACH – TO ITS OWN COMPANY (and it’s all, apparently, perfectly legal…..) May 29th 2019

BACKGROUND TO THE NEWS: BRICK BY BRICK – THE COMPANY SPIN…AND THE COMPANY BLURB May 29th 2019

BEDWARDINE ROAD HOUSING PLANS SET TO GET GO-AHEAD (even though ward councillors are unable to be there to object) August 25th 2019

OPINION: “CROYDON LABOUR HAVE FORM ON IGNORING REGULATIONS ON DAYLIGHT AND SUNLIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO BRICK BY BRICK. AND THEY WILL IGNORE THEM AGAIN. BUT NOW, SO CAN DEVELOPERS….” September 18th 2019

….AND IN CRYSTAL TERRACE: “This ‘company’ is rapacious – every spare square inch of Upper Norwood is in their sights. And because it is a company owned by the council there is no point complaining…” December 5th 2019

BRICK BY BRICK? NO THANKS – MORE LIKE ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’ December 5th 2019

. ….AS CROYDON WIN NATIONAL HOUSING AWARD (but it’s not the sort ANY council would want!) January 17th 2020

Unfortunately the action plan is only a plan. Councillors can just go ahead and grant permission (unless the local MP gets the relevant Government department to call it in. Normally MPs never call in a planning matter involving their own party. Residents in Kenley could ask their local MP – a Conservative – to intervene).

If this development gets the go-ahead, private developers putting in applications to build on chalk grassland anywhere in the borough of Croydon will be able to use such permission to back up their argument.

Bats? Well you gave Brick by Brick permission.

Badgers? Well you gave Brick by Brick permission. EVEN IF THEY ARE A PROTECTED SPECIES.

Rare moths? Well you gave Brick by Brick permission.

Council leader Cllr Tony Newman needs to take control of this situation.

It has gone on far, far too long.

It’s time for action, Cllr Newman. Get your planning councillors to see sense. It’s too late for people on the Auckland Rise estate which the planning permission your council granted have turned into an eyesore. It’s too late for people in Ravensdale Gardens. It’s too late for people living in the shadow of another eyesore going up opposite the Beulah Spa.

Please don’t add the people living ear Wontford Road Green to an ever-growing list…..

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