Croydon councillors have rejected a controversial housing scheme designed by AJ100 practice Maccreanor Lavington Architects because of its ’disappointing’ affordable housing offer
Developer Regent Land & Developments is seeking permission to demolish an existing building on Surrey Street and build 55 flats, but insists the scheme will only be ‘viable’ with 12 affordable homes – 22 per cent of the overall scheme.
A Croydon planning officer’s report had recommended the scheme for approval, and said failure to meet the borough’s policy of 35 per cent affordable homes was justified as higher quality materials, including a more expensive brick type, had increased the overall build figure.
The report also outlined how the scheme was providing community space at ‘lower rents’ to replace an existing community arts facility, Matthews Yard, set to be demolished as part of the project.
Matthews Yard is a basement arts hub and local asset of community value (ACV). Its proposed demolition had already prompted opposition to the scheme.
Regent Land said the community space would be reprovided in its cultural offer, Beamhouse Yard, to be run by local arts company Hoodoos. The planning report said this provision also affected the scheme’s overall viability.
Last week councillors voted to defer their decision, calling on the developer to ‘at the very least’ seek to maximise its affordable housing delivery on the site.
Councillor Chris Clark said: ‘I want to emphasise my personal disappointment about the housing element that has been proposed on this site. For me, if you’re choosing gold-plated materials over affordable housing then I think probably you are choosing the wrong priorities.’
The developer initially offered just 15 per cent affordable homes, a figure that increased to 35 per cent in the final planning application. However, before the scheme was heard at committee this was revised down to the current offer of 22 per cent.
Defending the scheme, councillor Stuart Millson called its design ‘magnificent’, adding: ’It would not look out of place in Manhattan, or Milan, places like that. That kind of design we shouldn’t be scared to put in the centre of Croydon.’