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Archive for the ‘Local Concerns Resolved’ Category

Two issues with have been raised regarding overlooking, one from residents and one from parents with children at Oval Road primary school. Both concern the fear of overlooking from the 53 storey residential tower. Fortunately,  most residents are not concerned by overlooking from the other elements of the development, namely the new hotel and affordable housing buildings as these will have views already blocked by existing buildings or, in the case of the start-up office block, will not overlook any potentially sensitive areas.

Oval Road primary school is set some distance from the development site, an approximate 5 minute walk. It has a large playing field and other hardstanding play areas variously located outside the main school building. These areas are used mostly at lunch time and during physical and recreational lessons and, of course, at hometime. The school site on the Oval Road side has its boundary on one side with Oval Road consisting of predominantly two and three storey terraced houses and on the other side with Cherry Orchard Road, with two storey terraced houses backing onto the site and the twelve storey Galaxy House office building an approximate 30 second walk away.

There is already the potential of overlooking from the houses on Oval and Cherry Orchard Road and from the very nearby Galaxy House office block. As far as we know there have never been any incidences of invasive overlooking. The only report we have had confirmed by an ex-governor was  from pedestrians lingering in the footpath leading from Cherry Orchard Road to Oval Road and we understand a privacy screen has been erected to deal with this. We think, realistically, the 53 storey residential tower is set sufficiently away from the school site to pose any potential problem and that there will be no more invasive overlooking issues than have yet occurred from the houses and office already much closer to the site.

Colson Road view of Knollys House

With regard to residents being overlooked, we also foresee this would not pose a  major problem and we have concluded the fear is probably greater than the reality.  To give some context Oval, Cedar, Colson, Blake, Brickwood and Bissenden Roads are the residential roads closest to the site; predictably, this is where opposition has been most widely canvassed. It is worth remembering, however, that these roads are already closer to the following tall office blocks, Stephenson House, Knollys House, Simpson House, the former Amy Johnson House and, crucially, the NLA tower.

NLA tower from Bissenden Road

 The NLA tower was built in 1970 and is 24 storeys high. Residents in that part of East Croydon would have had this view for the past 41 years. It can be assumed that anyone who has chosen to purchase a property in the past 41 years has taken the view that the NLA tower is already there and they must have decided that its presence was not of material concern to them.

It does beg the question as to why these same residents are being whipped into a frenzy regarding overlooking and loss of privacy? Or is it the case that this is simply being used as a basis to object to the application even though there will be very little real loss of privacy?

A greater insight into overlooking is appreciated from living in a high-rise than from living beneath one. The views from the upper parts of the twelve storey Cumberland Court residential flats in Cross Road demonstrates that the eye is drawn out further from the immediate surroundings and that all detail immediately down below becomes small and insignificant. Panoramic far distant views are always much more interesting and easier viewing than drawing room windows far below. From the upper parts of a 53 storey residential tower it can be concluded that the risk of overlooking and loss of privacy become very difficult arguments to maintain.

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Some residents closest to the development site are concerned that the application may have an effect on parking. Their concern is that a number of new residents will compete with existing residents to use the limited number of resident only parking bays near to the development and that spaces outside of restricted hours on single yellow lines will also be fought over.

The residential tower will provide 427 new homes. In the basement of the tower, spread over three floors, 173 parking bays will be provided exclusively for the use of residents. This meets the guidelines set by Croydon Council and far exceeds the expectations of Transport for London. Each apartment in the residential tower will also have its own incorporated cycle storage bay, as well as a further 636 cycle bays in the basement and 50 cycle stands on ground floor for the use of visitors. As an imaginative innovation, a Car Club Scheme will be introduced for those who require the occasional use of a vehicle but who ordinarily do not own or have the need to park a private car. The Car Scheme could also grow and develop if the residents of Addiscombe supported its use.

Transport for London would prefer to see no parking facilities provided at all. Transport for London recognises that the development site is a key transport hub and would encourage residents to rely more heavily on using public transport rather than owning a private car. The residential tower will be located directly on the mainline railway station at East Croydon and within short walking distance of both the bus hub and the tram interchange. In choosing to live in the residential tower it is easy to suppose that many of the new residents will make their choice to live there based on transport links with where they work, that is to say they may commute to London or work locally within Croydon town centre or other employment centres such as Redhill, Crawley, Gatwick and Brighton. It may well be the case that the expectation that every new resident will have a private car is not entirely realistic.

The developers, Menta, also wish to safeguard the right of existing Addiscombe residents to effectually use their parking permits and are prepared to stipulate as a condition on the new residents’ leaseholds that they will not be able to apply to Croydon Council for residential parking permits. This will be a legal clause in their leasehold prohibiting them from applying for a parking permit from Croydon Council which, in the event that this clause is breached, would jeopardise their investment in their new home. This scheme has been used recently in the newly completed Strata Tower  in Elephant and Castle where it has proved effective in preventing new residents from using parking bays reserved for existing residents.

Existing residents should feel confident that Menta will actively protect their right to easily park near to where they live.

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There has been much talk locally and in the press about the lack of affordable housing. This is one of the particular objections to the planning application often vociferously voiced by Labour councillor Sean Fitzsimons who states that there is insufficient affordable housing.

 The affordable housing will be situated on the old Cherry Orchard Gardens mansion site. It is worth remembering Cherry Orchard Gardens provided only 48 social housing flats, many of which suffered from serious condensation problems, unkept communal areas and poor accommodation. It provided unacceptable living conditions and former residents were keen to be re-located. The flats remained abandoned from 2006.

Gardens overlooked by balconies and windows

Gardens and balconies to rear of affordable housing

The new plan provides 72 new affordable homes, 24 more than existed before. This is has never been highlighted by councillor Sean Fitzsimons. Furthermore, the quality of the accommodation will be vastly improved, with many of the homes having their own private balconies and twin aspects to allow as much natural sunlight into the accommodation. As with the residential tower, providing a strong sense of community is also a priority within the affordable housing block. The roofs will be dedicated to the exclusive use of the residents, with roof-top gardens and allotments for them to enjoy collectively as well as the communal green spaces and play areas which have been designed for the rear of the building.

Affordable housing is not always designed with quality of life and community in mind. Often seen by some developers as merely a requirement to fulfil legal requirements on larger private residential projects, affordable housing can be cramped, poorly designed, unimaginative and unattractive or, indeed, hidden away in areas where land values are cheaper. This is partly why they are sometimes perceived as ghettos which, once the association is made, compounds the matter and they deteriorate further with even the people living there having a contempt for where they live.

People can be suspicious of affordable housing for these reasons, wanting to safeguard against what may be seen as potential slums arising in their own neighbourhoods. It would be fair to state that locally not everyone has been keen that this planning application includes any affordable housing, let alone as many as 72 new affordable homes. Residents have stated to us that the roads in which they live can sometimes be blighted by several affordable, social or housing association residents having a disregard for their own environment and ruining the appeal of the whole area. Some fear that Addiscombe, in the past five years, has had a dramatic increase in the accommodation of affordable or supported housing and that the area has suffered because of this.

On balance, Residents for Regeneration feel confident that the quality of architectural design and living accommodation and, indeed,  number of affordable housing homes proposed by Menta is pitched perfectly, aimed to provide homes people will enjoy occupying, respect and feel part of the wider inclusive community of Addiscombe.

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