Brick by Brick at centre of row over building on green spaces

Next to Ruksin

Croydon United Retired Members branch, Croydon Assembly Steering Group and Croydon TUC have all objected to the proposal by the Council’s Brick by Brick Development Company to build a block of flats on the green space next to Ruskin House on the corner of Coombe/Edridge Rds. There is growing debate about the proposed scheme on Historic Croydon Facebook.

Councillor Godfrey’s defence of scheme

Cllr Timothy Godfrey has posted the following justification on the page:

‘It’s a Council development! No lucrative selling off.

It’s not a great site – it’s grass. It’s not a park or even used by anyone.

There is a formal transaction transferring the land at normal value to ensure the council owned company can claim to be independent and thus avoid Tory government rules that effectively ban it from building new council homes. It also preserves the ability to access mortgages and bonds in the private sector in the future. No private profit involved. It’s all being done by the council or council owned companies.

This site used to have houses on it. It’s an ideal development site to help house fellow Croydon residents.

I’d prefer a continuation of the terrace, using traditional building techniques, and curving round the corner.’

Cllr Godfrey is the Cabinet member in charge of parks and open spaces. until May, when he ceases to be a Councillor. He is not standing again.

David White, the Secretary of Croydon Central Labour Party, has posted up:

‘I think it’s an overdevelopment and uninspiring design. It also impacts badly on Ruskin House, built in 1713 and one of the most important historic buildings in Croydon.

If there were 3 terraced houses built there, as existed before WWII, that might be ok in my opinion. But Brick by Brick wants to get maximum return so it can finance social house building elsewhere.’

Need for social housing

No one is denying that there is there is a desperate need for more social housing and that Brick by Brick is building some new social housing. BUT this is being financed by it building flats for sale – that it what will happen to the block next to Ruskin House. AND a good quality of life is not just about somewhere to leave, but the environment around it.

Meeting imposed targets not need

Labour Councillors are obsessed with this need that they do not seem to appreciate that by blindly acceding to meeting the Government and London Mayor housing targets, they are allowing hundreds of new flats by private developers that do not meet need, with low levels of ‘affordable’ housing being provided, and pushing up property prices and rents so even more need is created.

When Councillor Paul Scott, Chair of Planning, justified this at the meeting last week with Residents Associations in the Planning North area of the Borough, I had to remind him of the down-side, and that they are also approving schemes which provide badly designed poor quality new housing,

However welcome Brick by Brick’s contribution is a drop in the ocean, and the way it is alienating more and more people, especially on Council estates means it is shooting the Labour administration in the foot in the lead up to the local elections.

Previously built on

Yes, the Coombe/Edridge Rd green space was created from a bomb site and had had housing on it before the War. BUT this is a dangerous argument because it could be used to justify building on  any green space which had previously had buildings on it. Reducing the amenity value of such spaces in different parts of the Borough.

The green space is not high quality because the Council has done little to improve it. Its neglect can be used by the Council to justify any small green space being built on. Clearly in the future local residents will need to campaign to have their valued small local green space better managed and improved.

Numbers of objections do not count

While having a lot of people object is important in sending signals of concern to the Council, the number against a planning application is not a material consideration. The application can only be refused if it is contrary to national, London or local planning rules and policies.

Problems with design as it affects the setting of Ruskin House as a listed building could be grounds. Cllr Godfrey and David White have flagged up a design concern which might form the basis of refusal of this particular scheme, but not against the principle of building on the green space.

All objectors will have speaking rights  at the Planning Committee,  but will only have 3 minutes in total.

Uncertainty about future protection of parks and  green spaces

With the Labour administration’s wish to build on small green spaces, and their de-designation of the Coombe Playing Fields from the Green Belt to enable a secondary school to be built – see blog on events and news at 3 February, and the Council officers failure to convince the Planning Inspector to allow a list of Local Green Spaces into the Local Plan being adopted by the end of the month, plus the uncertainty over the future of parks and open spaces with the delay in publication of the six Vision reports, uncertainty hangs over the degree to which parks and green spaces, Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Lane will be protected in the future.

Local Plan Local Green Spaces List

In a last minute attempt to get the Local Green Space designation listing into the Local Plan I have written to the Secretary of State asking him to direct the Council to reinstate a listing based on those spaces which meeting the national criteria. The request has been copied to the three MPs. I have suggested that inclusion would bring the Plan more in line with the National Policy Framework and the emerging thinking of the London Mayor in his new London Plan. The Council expects to adopt the Plan at a full meeting later this month.

Mayor’s New London Plan

The Mayor’s new London Plan is being consulted on until 2 March. The sections on green spaces can be accessed at

Policy G1 Green infrastructure

Policy G2 London’s Green Belt

Policy G3 Metropolitan Open Land

Policy G4 Local green and open space

Policy G5 Urban greening

Croydon Citizen

The new February issue of Croydon Citizen includes a merger of my two articles on the green space issue originally published on the website in December.

Enjoying Croydon’s and other Parks and Open Spaces

Croydon has 120 parks and open spaces. There is an excellent brochure Green Croydon for All. Discover your local wildlfe & open spaces  produced back in 2010 by the Council, The Conservation Volunteers, the Friends of Farthing Downs, Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society, the Whitgift Foundation and the Association of Croydon Conservation Societies. You can pick up a copy at the Libraries.


The Council promotes healthy walking. A folded card sets out the details of three types of walk: flat terrain, open or two gentle hills/slops, and a number of hills/slopes which may be steep, in Lloyd Park, Hamsey Green, Purley Way West, South Norwood, Happy Valley, Macmillan, Gravel Hill, Norbury, Wandle Park and Selsdon Wood. It can also be picked up at Libraries.

There is also a brochure Croydon Walks. January to June 2018.


Croydon has a local group of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which meets monthly at the Whitgift Sports Club, the Clubhouse, Croham Manor Rd, South Croydon, CR2 7BG. It is having its annual Quiz night and fish and chip supper on Saturday 3 March.  It offers talks to other local organisations. It organises walks and field outings into Essex, Kent. Surrey and Sussex , as well as monthly talks. They hope you will take part in the Big Croydon Birdwatch in May.


Croydon HF Rambling Club organises walks very Sunday.  February sees Hurst Green to Oxted, Horsham, Addington Village, Postal Museum & Mail Rail, Knockholt Circular, Addington to Tatsfield, Tadworth and Richmond.

Friends Groups

Many of Croydon’s Parks and Open Spaces have Friends Groups which work to improve the facilities and the plant and wildlife, and organise events.




About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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1 Response to Brick by Brick at centre of row over building on green spaces

  1. Pingback: Threat to local green space – protest to Councillors Saturday | Norbury Watch

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