Why Pollards Hill Needs Special Protection

It is comments on the Local Plan the Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee requests the Inspector to visit the Pollards Hill area to make his own assessment as to whether a larger area should be included in the Pollards Hill South LHA or that the whole area should be a Conservation Area.

 In its submission on the Local Partial Review last year the JPC recommended the following amendment:

‘To designate the whole of the Pollards Hill area as a Local Heritage Area in protect its special character with its interlocking built heritage of road layout and houses, its landscaping and ‘rural’ qualities. (1610/01/053/SP4 (Table 5.1)/O)

It its supporting statement the JPC said:

‘1.    The JPC considers that Pollards Hill’s special character can only be protected by giving it Local Heritage Area status. Three open spaces exist in the area: the triangle park in Pollards Hill South, the rectangular park in Briar Rd, and the principle Hill at the upper end of Pollards Hill North.   The Hill provides a green oasis in the uniformly laid out northern suburb.

  1. The reason Pollards Hill Residents Association was formed was because of concerns about two sets of potential developments in 1988:
  • between Pollards Wood Rd and Ena Rd
  • behind Pollards Hill East, West and North for sixteen dwellings
  1. An early action of the Association was to apply for designation of a Conservation Area.
  2. Pollards Hill summit lies 212 feet above sea level, and one hundred feet above the London Rd. It is one of Croydon’s highest vantage points from which to see Epsom Downs to the south-west on a clear day. It was why In 1897 Queen Victoria’s Jubilee was celebrated with a beacon lit on the top of Pollards Hill. In 1988 the spot was still marked by an Ordnance Survey Trigonometry Station and datum. Evidence of Roman earthworks was found which is why it had a designation as an Archaeological Priority. At present the latest development St Philips Church Vicarage and back of 68-70 approved by the Council has to have a programme of archaeological work providing adequate opportunity to investigate and evacuate archaeological remains on the site.
  1. The estate roads were laid out in 1862 and at the end of the 19thC a brickfield was located not far from the west boundary of St. Philip’s Church.
  2. Before the First World War the Hill was rural in character, houses built between 1904- 1910 existing in the London Rd end of Pollards Hill South only. The Norbury Golf Club on the west side of the Hill was sold before the Second World War for housing development.
  3. The last remaining  allotments to the west were laid out as additional open space in the 1980s after falling into disuse.
  4. By 1988 Pollards Hill had been built over although owing to its unique road layout, large tracts of garden backland and woodland remained undisturbed.
  1. The road layout of Pollards Hill ingeniously reflects the natural contours of the Hill. Viewing the plan form of the road, an artistic quality is apparent, being a complete contrast to the immediately adjacent suburban grid of roads, common to the northern part of Croydon. The curved and meandering layout has in turn influenced the pattern of housing development in the area which had been generally built in the early 1990s. As a by-product the layout also produced large areas of backland, some of which was developed in short cul-de-sac form, around which are sited individually designed and more expensive houses with generously sized gardens.
  1. These larger gardens permitted the growth of a variety of mature trees which contribute substantially to the rus-in-arbea nature of the area. Additionally, as the result of gardens being generally several decades in age there exists a wide variety of shrubs and hedges that supplement the effect of the mature trees, of which in 1988 there were eight varieties.
  2. While there are no listed buildings in Pollards Hill many of the houses have a distinctive and qualitative architectural style derived from some of the most notable English vernacular periods. Their form and setting in the mature landscape provides consistently good environmental quality that it is desirable and worthy of retention.
  3. In 1988 approximately twelve distinctive cluster or group forms of dwellings design, and over thirty individually designed houses were identified. The majority of the designs derived from builder/architect forms prevalent in the early 20thC, a period during which the mass production of components was introduced for qualitative housing development, together with selective individuality of plan forms. The variety of architectural styles echoes village development, creating a sense of entity and place, and adding interest to street scenes.
  4. St Philip’s and Norbury Methodist Churches are civic landmarks in Pollards Hill and contrast with the residential development. St Philip’s was built in 1902 and its second stage completed 1934. The Vicarage in Pollards Hill North was built in 1924 and grounds to the rear were laid out as a tennis court and bowling green.
  5. In 1988 it was assessed that because of the low density of the Hill, largely covered by gardens and open spaces, there remained strong opportunities for the survival of wild life, with sightings of foxes, hedgehogs, frogs and toads, all of which resided in the area. There were also a wide variety of bird species including Brown Owls, Magpies and Jays.
  6. There have been many threats to the character of the area.
  • A proposal was 17 houses in the later 1970s of woodland to the rear of Pollards Hill South resulted in permission for nine dwellings, three of which were bungalows. The developers did not proceed and sold the land back to two adjacent owners, one of whom lopped and felled trees subject to preservation orders, against which the Council failed to take any effective enforcement action.
  • A proposal for two bungalows in the mid-1980s on garden land to the rear of Pollards Hill South and adjacent to Forest Gardens was refused. The application seemed designed to open up access along the entire length of the rear of Pollards Hill South outing at risk 1.5 acres of mature woodland.
  • In 1988 a major development was proposed between Pollards Hill East, West and North. The owner/developers ignored tree preservation orders by felling the mature trees involved.
  1. The latest threat is on the garden land of 18 Pollards Hill West and the adjacent backland pleasure gardens. ‘

Edited and updated from Proposal for designation of a Conservation Area. Pollards Hill, Norbury. London Borough of Croydon. Pollards Hill Residents Association. June 1988)

The Council responded: ‘The section of the Pollards Hill South area is recommended for the Local Heritage Area designation as it meets criteria. The view from Pollards Hill is proposed as a designated Croydon Panorama. The rest of the area, whilst very attractive, does not meet designation criteria for a Local Heritage Area. The evidence of the assessments of areas is available on the Council’s website.’

The Joint Planning Committee does not accept the Council’s approach to Pollards Hill. A string of approved planning applications over the last 3 years are beginning to change the character of the area, e.g. 18 Pollards Hill West and 3 Hill, Drive. There will come a point where its historic characteristics as an urban green lung with an unusual street pattern will be destroyed.

 

 

Last year the JPC  recommended: ‘consider Pollards Hill area for the Conservation Area designation’.

The Council’s response says ‘There is no evidence in the Council records to support Conservation Area aspirations for the Pollards Hill area. The complete Local Heritage Area review is available on the Council’s website on the evidence base pages which support the Croydon Local Plan.’

Given that the Pollards Hill Residents Association submitted a proposal in 1988, the fact the Council cannot find evidence says a lot about the adequacy of the record keeping of the Council and its preservation of material into its Archive (part of Croydon Museum). Given the large percentage of Archive material that is not catalogued the evidence may well be in existence.

Councillor Steve ‘OConnell also stated in his submission:

‘There is a need to ensure that the proposed list of Local Heritage Areas is complete. This can be checked by looking at past studies for potential conversation area status which were rejected may provide the basis for being Local Heritage Areas e.g. Pollards Hill. Additional Local Heritage Areas, for example Pollards Hill, should be identified. (2128/01/005/SP4 (Table 5.1)/C)

The Council’s response to him states:

‘The complete review of Local Heritage Areas including 39 existing Local Areas of Special Character and new proposals is available on the Council’s website on the evidence base pages which support the Croydon Local Plan. The section of the Pollards Hill South area is recommended for the Local Heritage Area designation as it meets criteria. The view from Pollards Hill is proposed as a designated Croydon Panorama. The rest of the area, whilst very attractive, does not meet designation criteria for a Local Heritage Area.’

The Council’s rejection of the proposal on such dubious grounds should not be accepted.

 

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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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