A housing scheme has been approved for a tight site along the railway line by the side of the Fairview Rd cul de sac leading to the Fairview Medical Practice. It will involve the demolition of the two 19thC former factory buildings and the garage repair businesses’ building. 7 bed, 1 one bed and 1 three bed flats will be built and a commercial unit.
The owner applicant of the site (32-34 Fairview Rd) failed to consult the Medical Practice about the plans prior to submission to the Council. The scheme was opposed by the Medical Practice, the develop owner of the Practice’s site, local Councillor Shafi Khan, and the Love Norbury Joint Planning Committee (JPC).
The vote at the Council Planning Committee on Thursday 11 January was four for refusal and four against refusal, with the latter getting the support of the Chair Paul Scott. The decision to approve was then taken four:four with the Chair’s casting vote in favour. The JPC suggestion that if they were not prepsred to refuse the application they could consider deferring a decision to enable discussions with the Practice was not discussed.
The Medical Practice is particularly concerned about the potential limits to access to the entrance to its premises and car park especially for ambulances, doctors driving patients to hospital for emergency treatment, etc. The Planners argued that a construction and logistics plan could remedy this.
Quantity or Quality
One of the main arguments in favour of approval was that it if was refused the site owner could still provide 6 flats because he has existing planning rights to convert the two former factor buildings into flats, under the Government permitted development rules. The Chair, an architect, argued that the Council could not control the quality of the flats that could be provided, and that the scheme for demolition and new build would result in a higher quality of homes.
The main argument for the scheme was the need to meet the housing targets. It is one of many scheme where the quality of new homes is being sacrificed for the meeting targets. The fear is that a lot of schemes being approved are simply the poor quality housing and slums of the future.
Prior to the Committee meeting the Medical Practice and the JPC both sent the Councillors their letters of objection. This was because they were only allowed 3 minutes together to speak at the Committee; one and a half minutes each. The statement read out for the JPC is set out below.
Pete Smith was on the phone the next day to the applicant make it clear tthat he had to enter serious discussions with the Medical Practice over the details of the Construction and Logistics Plan.
Since the meeting there has been a flurry of emails between the Medical Practice and the JPC with Pete Smith, Head of Development Manager, and Paul Scott. The Practice is deciding what its next steps are to be. It considers that its future viability is at risk, and if it closes this will effect some 8,000 registered patients. It is among the best practices in Croydon.
The JPC has urged the Council to help the owner of the garage repair business to find suitable premises to locate to.
According to Companies House the owner Stonebuild Developments has two brothers as Directors. They were involved in a bitter family business inheritance dispute back in 2009 and 2010. They are also registered Directors of two retail pharmacies.
Stonebuild is allowed to convert the existing buildings into flats because the Council failed to add them to the list of local buildings of merit, and to protect the employment status of the site, which was requested by the JPC is its representations on the Local Plan. Despite this being re-iterated at the Hearings in front of a Planning Inspector the Council has not proposed to modify the Plan. The Inspector has recently completed his report, and publication and approval, and adoption should happen in the next three months. The JPC will review what the implications will eb for Norbury.
Statement read out for JPC
As a large development on a tight site this scheme has been badly thought through in terms of its impact on the Medical Practice and the short stretch of road. It is overdevelopment and badly designed as outlined in the Norbury Committee’s letter of objection which I emailed to you.
For you to be satisfied that the scheme is good design the planning officer should cite those elements which meet the requirements of planning policies.
In para 7.6 reference is made the scheme contributing to family housing.
2 bed 4 persons units are cramped family housing. They do not comply with policy that housing should be designed for life-time change, such as when children of opposite gender need their own bedrooms.
There will be a lot of noise from the railway. Could this result in broken sleep which will be detrimental to children’s health and well-being?
There are planning grounds for you to refuse this application, but if you do not agree then I ask you take into consideration that the developer failed to consult the Medical Practice in the light of its objections to the GPDOs.
You could consider deferring the application to enable discussion of a redesign that would relocate the commercial unit to enable expansion of the Practice’s accommodation, and to ensure that access to the Practice does not get blocked.