What have Labour done wrong?
Labour have allowed developers to run amok in our borough. They have put together a Local Plan and local design guides that allow developers to ride roughshod over the many distinct character areas of the borough. They have even used their wholly owned development company Brick by Brick to concrete over the amenity and green spaces on many of our council estates, removing much needed facilities from local people whilst at the same time increasing the density of development. Labour’s design guide has allowed for the destruction of family homes to be replaced by often inappropriate blocks of flats. They have squandered the investment opportunities that Westfield would have brought to the borough, thereby damaging the reputation of our town centre and driving away businesses, jobs and inward investment.
Labour have developed a Local Plan that is effectively a developers’ blueprint. They have ignored the objections of thousands of local residents and pushed ahead with their own agenda to intensify the borough, regardless of the impact on local people. In the most recent iteration of the Local Plan Labour have once again pushed ahead with even more ‘intensification areas’, putting a potential planning blight on huge swathes of the borough.
They have once again overstated the numbers, preparing to build 46,000 homes when the London Plan clearly identifies a target of 32,000 for the borough.
Labour have repeatedly failed to protect our green spaces with many local parks reliant solely upon national policy for protection. Despite many fantastic Friends’ Groups looking after parks across the borough Labour failed to properly consult and partner with them to ensure that all our precious local spaces were protected in the Local Plan. Labour have even put forward proposals to build on great swathes of the green belt – destroying precious green spaces for future generations forever.
Despite many areas of the borough suffering with an intensification of HMO’s (Homes of Multiple Occupation) the Labour Council has done nothing to control the issue.
They are attempting to increase the density of quiet suburban roads without providing any additional infrastructure – knocking down much needed family homes and building inappropriate blocks of flats.
Labour’s design guide gives developers carte blanche to ignore local character. If builders can’t find a way to make a new development respect the local area, then Labour’s guidance is clear: simply call it a “contemporary interpretation” and make it big.
Labour has presided over the “uglification” of Croydon. This is increasingly obvious across the Borough.
Croydon Labour has deliberately sought the highest possible housing target. Even the Labour Mayor of London had to intervene to try and get them to build less. They have sped ahead with intensification across Croydon at a far greater rate than is required and are currently delivering 120% of their housing target.
What would we do differently?
On day one I will drop the much-despised design guide that has wreaked such havoc across our borough. I will re-visit the Local Plan to restore a design-led approach to planning in Croydon, rather the current density-led model.
I will ensure that we once again respect the many wonderful character areas that we have across the borough, rather than trying to ‘reinterpret’ them.
New development will need to listen to local people, enhance suburbia and recognize the need for quality amenity space, particularly following the covid pandemic. A mix of homes by both typology and tenure will be vital to ensure future sustainability. CIL and S106 monies must be spent to enhance the areas that are being developed and provide improved infrastructure.
- I will drop the design guide, SPD2, which is causing so much destruction across the borough
- I will re-visit the Local Plan and ensure that the priorities of our residents are paramount in local decision making. Most residents accept that more homes are required but we must work with communities to develop those homes and not simply force through inappropriate development upon them
- Development will be design-led and not density-led
- I will ensure that we plan for the right number of homes, as stipulated by the London Plan
- I will develop policies that encourage a good mix of homes, both in typology and tenure, so that development in the borough is more sustainable
- I will develop policies that look to tackle the cumulative impact of HMO’s
- I will protect local character and ensure that any new developments respect the local area
- I will revisit ‘heritage areas’ and ‘conservation areas’ to make sure that the most unique and special places in our borough are protected
- I will protect our green spaces – our parks, fields and woodlands have lived under constant threat since Labour took control of the council in 2014. I will do all I can to give them greater protection
- I will prioritise development on brownfield and central sites, where there is sufficient infrastructure to accommodate it
- Our planning policies will prioritise people and communities, not developers.