Having been a community activist herself in the past Jo Negrini, Croydon Council’s Director of Development and Environment, stressed the importance of issues of concern being raised at the CPO Inquiry by activists. She was open minded and prepared to take all the issues raised on board. It is important that issues of concern be raised.
She could not remember making the statement at the Live Croydon event reported by Inside Croydon on 19 September 20134 that she had ‘discussed those who question what would happen to Croydon if Westfield and Hammerson failed to deliver their £1 billion new shopping mall’.
She made these comments in response to questions on her previously given evidence put to her by Sean Creighton at the Whitgift CPO Inquiry on Thursday 5 March.
Other key points made by Negrini
- The agreements between the Council and the developers, and the developers and Whitgift Foundation would prevent the start of demolition works without evidence of funding in place and a construction contract in order to avoid the situation of them abandoning the scheme after demolition.
- Affordability is a key issue for the Council and it is doing a lot of work on it. The 16 March Cabinet will consider increasing the Council’s new build programme, and is looking to increase social housing to 30% in new developments in the Town Centre.
- She could not provide current and projected Council Tax and business rate income for each of the finial years from 2014/15 to the project completion, and estimates of loss if the developers become bankrupt or do not proceed with the scheme.
- The Council is not concerned about potential loss of Council Tax and business rates over the construction period because it is looking at the scheme and the Opportunity Area as a whole over a 25 year period, and estimates an increase in revenues of £570m.
- Supporting small businesses to continue to operate through the development period is important. The Council is providing support, has run two seminars, has contacted every retailer, and is discussing re-location needs. The Council’s role is to promote the public interest through this ‘transformational project’. It has an ‘absolute commitment to the 41 independent traders.’
- She attends MIPIM to promote Croydon – ‘our role is to raise the profile’.
- She did not receive detailed documentation from the Whitgift Foundation as to its processes of decision making and the legal basis on which it could enter an agreement with the developers. She had seen the agreement with CLP and the detailed explanation of the landholding interests. She understood that the Foundation had consulted the Charity Commission.
- No alternative proposals had been received from Minerva; only comments about their ideas for the Mid Croydon area.
- She had not seen the business cases for the proposed cinema and bowling alley.
Questions to Planning Director
In answer to questions from Sean Creighton, Mike Kiely, Director of Planning, said that:
- if the scheme did not go ahead the Council would have to look at how to proceed; he refused to acknowledge that there was no Plan B.
- the business case for the proposed cinema and bowling alley had not be submitted by the developers.
- it is not part of planning’s role to decide on the merits of any particular business proposal such as a cinema or bowling alley.
- the business case for the proposed cinema and bowling alley had not be submitted by the developers
- had not been approached by Delancey, Minerva or Whitgift Trust to discuss their ideas for redeveloping parts of the CPO area.
- his Department did not have discussions with any businesses with landholding interests during the pre-planning application stage to ascertain their comments on the proposal; the developers carried out consultations.
- That letters had not been sent to each business affected by the proposed scheme to let them know about the outline planning application stage.
Note: Jo Negrini has agreed to meet with the Croydon TUC Working Party on the Growth Plan which was convened by Sean Creighton.