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Secretary of state calls in Proctor & Matthews’ Purley tower

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Communities secretary Sajid Javid has called in plans by Proctor & Matthews Architects to build ‘the only tower’ in the south London suburb of Purley

Croydon Council granted permission for two schemes by the practice in the town in December last year. The larger, known as Mosaic Place, is on a brownfield site between Russell Hill Road and the Brighton Road and features a 17-storey tower.

However, the joint planning application for both projects will now go before a public inquiry after Javid, called it in. 

Following a public outcry about the schemes’ impact, Conservative MP for Croydon South Chris Philp organised a petition against the proposals, which attracted more than 4,000 signatures. In addition, the Mosaic Place scheme’s planning application received 630 comments, with many objecting to the scheme. 

Backed by Thornsett Group on behalf of Purley Baptist Church, the Mosaic Place proposal includes red and brown brick buildings providing 114 homes. The Purley Baptist Church’s existing 1908 building on the plot will be demolished and replaced once the new centre was completed.

According to the practice, the scheme’s tower would occupy the only site earmarked for a tall tower in the Purley district under the London Borough of Croydon’s local plan. The project is linked to a 106-home development, known as the South Site on the neighbouring 1-9 Banstead Road, which features blocks ranging in height from three to eight storeys.

But the height of the larger site in particular provoked criticism from local residents who claimed the tower – dubbed the ‘Purley skyscraper’ by campaigners – would be three times higher than any other building in the town.

Speaking to the Croydon Advertiser, Philp said: ‘Local residents have been overwhelmingly opposed to this scheme, and so have I.

‘It was shocking that the council gave it planning permission and I am delighted that it has been called in and that a planning inspector will now look at it. The site does need developing, but six or eight floors would be much more appropriate.’

He added: ‘It will change the character of the area. It may [also] act as a precedent for other developers to build skyscrapers in Purley and there are only about 20 unrestricted parking spaces for 220 flats, so it will cause parking chaos.’

Proctor & Matthews declined to comment.

View the planning application here

Project data

Location Purley, South London
Type of project Baptist Church/Residential Mixed-use
Client Purley Baptist Church, Thornsett Group,
Architect Proctor & Matthews Architects
Landscape architect Philip Cave Associates
Planning consultant Nexus Planning
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant Peter Brett
Total cost Approximately £20.25 million 

Purley tower 1

Purley tower 1

Source: Proctor and Matthews Architects

Plans for Mosaic Place

Architects’ view

Proctor & Matthews Architects’ detailed design for a 11,354m² development addresses the larger of the two sites, known as Mosaic Place, and uses the public functions of the brief to establish a civic presence at the apex of the site, right at the heart of the town. A two-storey brick plinth with double-height openings expresses the social functions within, while a small square gives the building’s entrance the presence it deserves. On to this square a pavilion building, with meeting space and prayer room above completes the line of existing Edwardian buildings.

A slender 17-storey residential building augmented by a lower brick ‘campanile’ is placed at the apex of the site. This is pivotal in townscape terms as it can be seen from all around the surrounding area, and is the only tall building permitted by the Croydon local plan. The use of stone tracery frames expresses its domestic qualities and provides a scale transition from bottom to top. The building is crowned with a fringe of trees that are framed by an open structure against the sky.

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