Hundreds of Shirley Oak residents were at the Town Hall last night for the Council meeting protesting at the proposal of the Council in the Local Plan to build homes on Shirley Oaks green spaces. A petition with 3,600 signatures was presented at the meeting. According to the Croydon Advertiser the Council meeting had to be suspended because of a row between Councillors over procedures and anger from the public gallery. The accusation by Council Leader Tony Newman that MP Gavin Barwell has being whipping up opposition is an insult to residents, especially as the way the officers drafted the answers to public questions fudges over the issue of whether or not the proposal brings the Local Plan in line with requirements by Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Following on the campaign to save Purley Leisure Centre and the 11,000 petition against the ending of the garden waste collection, residents are sending clear messages that they value the quality of the environment and the provision of leisure services. Neither Party can ignore this.
The Shirley Oaks petition calls ‘on Croydon Council to drop its demands for Shirley’, opposes ‘the intensification associated with the gradual change of the area’s local character, de-designation of Metropolitan Open Land around Shirley, Gypsy Traveller Sites and development on Garden land.’ https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SaveShirley; http://www.mo-ra.co
The Save Shirley campaign has backing from Shirley Planning Forum which encompasses Monks Orchard, Shirley Oaks Village residents, Spring Park Residents Association, Heathfield Residents Association, Shrublands Residents Association and Shirley Oaks Village Management company.
47 questions on the issue were submitted by the public for the Council meeting.
The questions sought information on the reasons for the removal of Metropolitan Open Land status, and expressed concern about the extra cars that would be generated if 751 homes are built. Attention was drawn to the Section 52 agreement of 4 December 1985 on the land at Shirley Oaks designating it as Amenity Open land for residents use, and that fact that the green areas on Shirley Oaks Village are owned collectively by the homeowners through Shirley Oaks Management Ltd. Concern was also expressed about flooding which will be made worse if more houses are built. Concern was also expressed that the proposed de-designated land includes Croydon’s only Synagogue. An explanation was also sought about the environmental and sustainability considerations taken into account in the proposals. Two questions drew attention to the fact that at the Local Plan public event for Shirley the officers did not know about the land ownership, and that apparently the Council has received legal opinion which establishes that the open land on and around the Shirley Oaks Village Estate meets the criteria for Metropolitan Open Land.
Most of the questions were answered with the same wording in two standard answers drafted by the officers for Cabinet Member Alison Butler to answer.
Standard Answer 1
‘Whilst I understand the concerns raised, Croydon has significant housing pressures to provide enough new homes both for existing local communities, and those moving into the borough. That is why Croydon Council has supported substantial developments across the borough. As a Council we have a responsibility to ensure the supply of new homes is fairly distributed across the borough. The criteria for designation of Metropolitan Open Land is set by the Conservative Mayor of London in his London Plan. Croydon Council is required by both the government and the Mayor of London to agree a Local Plan that adheres to the National Planning Framework and the Mayor of London’s London Plan.
A key purpose of the Local Plan is to ensure all land is correctly designated across the borough. In terms of site allocations, the willingness of the landowner to make a site available for development is an important factor when concluding whether to allocate land. It should be noted that any proposals that follow designations in the Local Plan will be subject to someone bringing them forward and to planning permission.
This question has already been raised in representations received as part of the consultation on the Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies – Partial Review and Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies and Proposals (Preferred and Alternative Options) which are being logged, summarised, considered and responded to by the Spatial Planning Service. This will enable respondents to track their representations. The conclusion of this work will result in a consultation log, which will set out responses to representations and, where considered necessary, set out where a change is proposed to the Proposed Submission Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies – Partial Review and/or Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies and Proposals. To respond to this question at this stage would prejudice the process outlined above and not enable all the representations received to be considered as a whole in an efficient and comprehensive manner.
The Proposed Submission Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies – Partial Review and Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies and Proposals is anticipated to be considered by Cabinet in July 2016. The Croydon Local Plan: Strategic Policies – Partial Review and Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies and Proposals (Preferred and Alternative Options) consultation log will be considered alongside these Local Plans. No decision has currently been reached.
The Croydon Local Plan: Detailed Policies and Proposals (Preferred and Alternative Options) indicated five sites around Shirley Oaks could accommodate between 304 and 751 units. These figures are driven by the London Plan density matrix and high level urban design review. As the plan moves to Proposed Submission stage, for those sites that are pursued, more detailed work will be carried out to understand the deliverability of the sites.’
Standard Answer 2
‘Whilst I understand the concerns raised, Croydon has significant housing pressures to provide enough new homes both for existing local communities, and those moving into the borough. That is why Croydon Council has supported substantial developments right across the borough. The criteria for designation of Metropolitan Open Land are set by the Conservative Mayor of London in his London Plan. Croydon Council is required by both the government and the Mayor of London to agree a Local Plan that adheres to the National Planning Framework and the Mayor of London’s London Plan.
The Croydon Local Plan consulted on the de-designation of MOL around Shirley Oaks. The area of MOL to the south of Shirley Oaks Hospital and surrounding the Shirley Oaks development was proposed for de-designation as it does not meet any of the criteria for designation as MOL (set out in Policy 7.17 of the Mayor’s London Plan) because:
- It does not contribute to the green physical structure of London by being clearly distinguishable from the built up area because it is separated from the wider open area of Ashburton Playing Fields, South Norwood Country Park and Beckenham Cemetery by Shirley Oaks Hospital.
- It does not include open air facilities which serve either the whole or significant parts of London; and
- It does not contain features or landscapes of either national or metropolitan value.’
This standard answer then continued with the following paras from Standard Answer 1: ‘A key purpose of the Local Plan ….; ‘This question has already been raised’ and ‘The Proposed Submission Croydon Local Plan’, with only slight editorial amendment of no significance.
The Flooding Issue
In answer to the concerns about flooding Cllr Butler gave two answers:
‘In terms of flooding the current Environment Agency (EA) online maps indicate that Shirley Oaks and the surrounding area are not at risk of flooding. However further consultation will be undertaken with the EA to ascertain risk of flooding and any required mitigation measures if this site is taken forward on a proposed site allocation. In addition, the Council is taking account of the outcome of the recent consultation and the borough’s Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.’
‘The flood risk of all sites (either Local Plan or planning application) will be assessed as part of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. Each site will be subject to the Sequential Test approach which will ensure that development takes place on sites with the lowest risk of flooding. If a site which is at risk of flooding is required, the Exception Test will be applied. The Exception Test will ensure that the proposed development is appropriate for the risk of flooding. It will also ensure that the development provides wider sustainability benefits that outweigh the flood risk and that the development will be safe for its lifetime without increasing flood risk elsewhere.’
- ‘the Council has considered all brown field sites across the Borough before going to consultation.’
- ‘the Council has no plans to purchase this land.’
- ‘the synagogue is recognised as an important community facility it would be respected as such under existing planning guidance.’