Reasons to reject the Whitgift Centre CPO were outlined to the Inspector by Sean Creighton in his closing submission at the Inquiry on Friday 13 March.
(1) It is flawed because it is backing a planning process which prevents proper democratic assessment of a major scheme through the reserved matters mechanism rather than the submission of a full detailed planning application.
(2) It infringes the human rights of businesses and the people of Croydon.
(3) It is highly partial with the ultimate beneficiaries being CLP and the Whitgift Foundation.
(4) This Inquiry has been denied full information and the main beneficiary the Whitgift Foundation has failed to appear and allow itself to the cross-examined.
(5) The alleged benefits are at a very low level and deliver little to the people of Croydon.
(6) It takes a narrow view as to the method of redevelopment not backed by the Opportunity Area Framework.
(7) The Council failed to explore with others whether a different approach to redevelopment could be taken.
(8) It will not produce a vibrant retail core because it excludes residents above premises along North End and concentrates them all into tower blocks on to the frontage of a multi-lane main road with all its noise and air pollution problems.
(9) It provides no major new leisure attraction to the Retail Core to complement shopping such as a museum and art gallery that can appeal to a wide cross-section of Croydonians and others.
(10) A significant portion of new retail outlets will be high end not meeting the needs of Croydonians.
(11) It fails to adequately link with other parts of the Town Centre and Opportunity Area to complement its existing diversity and create a wider Town Centre that people will wish to come to as they do for example in Kingston and Newcastle.
(12) It fails to recognise that the challenges of ‘reviving’ a complex town centre are very different from building on brownfield sites and even in other town centres like Bradford where it started with an empty site.
Accepting that if the Inspector did not agree, Sean Creighton also suggested he consider making a number of modifications to the CPO, including:
- Reconfigure its proposed CCHP to meet the power needs of at least the Retail Core west of Wellesley Rd.
- Set up business and community panels to monitor the implementation of the scheme, open to the public and with all papers made publicity available.
- Compensate any M&S workers who are made redundant as a result of M&S re-locating temporarily to Centrale.
- Exclude M&S form the CPO.
- CLP to give written undertakings to every trader having to leave the Whitgift Centre that they have the opportunity to apply to return into the new Centre.
- CLP to design the retail units to ensure that traders who have to relocate during the demolition and construction works have the opportunity to take up tenancies in the new Centre along with on a graduated annual rental package that starts with their current rent and rises over five years in equal instalments to the full market rental
- The Council to offer a graduated annual business rates package that starts with their current rates payable and rises over five years in equal instalments to the full rates for the unit.
- No CPO confirmation without signed agreement between CLP and John Lewis.
- CLP to provide the maximum of its promise of 400-600 homes.
- CLP to redesign its housing provision to replace the proposed tower blocks by homes above buildings throughout the area.
- CLP to provide a greater mix of bedroom sizes to ensure that there is higher proportion of suitable apartments for families.
- CLP to enter a long term agreement with the Council for the latter to take on the management responsibility as landlord for the scheme’s ‘affordable homes’.
- CLP to enter into a legal agreement with the Council that all flats for sale or private rent will be offered for the first 6 months to Croydon residents, then to London residents, then to residents elsewhere in the country.
- CLP to enter into a legal agreement with the Council that any flats unsold or not rented out under be re-designated as ‘affordable’.
- CLP to enter a legal agreement that it will not market any of the for sale or private rental apartments abroad.
- CLP to enter a legal agreement not to sell or rent any apartment to anyone from abroad currently living and working in the UK without a clause that will require them to offer the property back to CLP in the event of their returning back to their country of origin.