At Croydon's Council meeting this evening I joined Conservative colleagues in asking that the Supplementary Planning Document 2 paper be reconsidered by our Labour administration. Significant issues remain, as we expressed in our request to send it back for more work:
'We move the reference back for the adoption of the Suburban Design Guide - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD2) for further debate. The document sets out key principles at 2.2.1 which set the context that development should provide the right mix in the right location, that contributes to character and minimises impact on neighbouring amenity. The document that follows does not live up to these principles. It does not improve or positively contribute to character, does not allow for cumulative impact and is open to interpretation. Many hundreds of residents responded to this consultation and yet they have been widely ignored. We request that this document is referred back to Cabinet to review the responses and ensure that the document truly works for the people of Croydon.'
My speech was interrupted a number of times by Labour councillors, and can be watched on the Council's website.
Thank you Madam Mayor, I regret that I need to speak tonight and recommend the Council’s plan be reconsidered - we could have avoided this if our Labour Administration had just listened.
Listened to the tens of thousands who have signed petitions – trying to have their voices heard.
Listened to the thousands of polite objections to inappropriate planning schemes up and down Croydon.
Listened to the hundreds who wrote in pointing out the flaws and opposing this Supplementary Planning Document.
I regret the Council hasn’t listened to residents since 2014, but I hope they will listen to the hundreds in the public gallery here tonight.
This document affects the entire borough, whether North, Central or South - and should be considered logically and not on party lines.
Labour’s former Chief Whip recently said he felt his Upper Norwood patch had been mistreated by the planning committee saying the Council’s plans for his ward are damaging the quality of life for his existing residents. He said the Chair of the Planning Committee was whipping Labour councillors to approve unacceptable developments. How are he and his ward colleagues able to satisfy their consciences by supporting this plan tonight?
In the Town Centre last summer, a Council-backed scheme on Edridge Road was described by Croydon’s Trade Unions Congress as a ‘devious application’. How will the local Momentum councillors justify to their comrades their support for this policy document tonight?
Dozens in Sunnybank in South Norwood wrote in to object at plans to build two blocks of flats in the back garden of one of the properties. Another scheme for Warminster Road led to residents Crowdfunding thousands to legally oppose a block of flats that was described as ‘looking like a prison’. What did the then Labour Chair of the planning committee say? “You can’t say ‘no’ to everything”. How are South Norwood’s Labour Councillors justifying voting for this document tonight when it does more of the same?
This planning guidance is wrong for the whole of Croydon.
You say you want to deliver affordable housing for Croydon - yet your development company Brick by Brick is selling properties for £660,000.
You say you want to help children stuck on the housing waiting list - yet you've failed to start one single council house since taking over the Council in 2014.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Members of the public know that Labour run Croydon Council. If this vote goes through tonight, it’s on the back of Labour councillors voting for it. Labour councillors can choose to be on the side of our residents this evening. They can choose to listen to the concerns of the people who vote for us to represent them in this chamber.
Do not call them NIMBYs. Do not belittle or demean how passionately they feel about our communities. Help them. Support them. Work with us, and with them, to build a Croydon we can all be proud of.
Sadly despite hundreds of residents packing the Town Hall to oppose these damaging plans, every single Labour councillor voted to ignore the concerns of our resident and pushed this planning document through. Make no mistake - it'll change the face of Croydon forever, and not in a way that delivers much needed genuinely affordable housing or protects our precious communities.