This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 18/04/2017.
Controversial Purley ‘skyscraper’ might not go ahead after all – here’s why
A controversial “skyscraper” may not be built in Purley after all after the Government stepped in to review the application.
Plans to build the 17-storey building on the site of Purley Baptist Church, on the “island” on Banstead Road, were approved by Croydon Council in December last year, despite opposition from thousands of residents.
The tower block would comprise 114 flats, if it is allowed to go ahead.
On top of this a further 106 flats would be built in blocks between three and eight storeys tall on the other side of Banstead Road, on the corner with Brighton Road.
The whole project will now go before a public inquiry after being “called in” for scrutiny by the Secretary of State Sajid Javid following pressure from Croydon South MP Chris Phillp.
The public inquiry is being arranged by the Planning Inspectorate, but a date has not yet been set by the Government.
Once the inquiry has concluded, a report will be presented to Mr Javid who will make the final decision.
In a letter written to Mr Philp on April 12, Mr Javid said that he had “called in” the controversial planning application.
Mr Javid wrote: “The Government’s policy on call in is to be very selective. It is right that in almost all cases the initial decision on whether the application should proceed should be taken by the local planning authority.
“In general, planning applications are only called in if planning issues of more than local importance are involved.
“However, there are occasions when it is right for me to decide the issue, normally following a public inquiry.
“I am enclosing a copy of a letter that the Planning Casework Unit has sent to Croydon Council.
“This explains the reasons for my decision and indicates the issues on which I wish to be informed for the purposes of his consideration of the application.
“Arrangements for the public inquiry will be made shortly and the details advertised locally nearer the time. I will ensure that you are informed of my decision on the application in due course.”
A petition, which ended with 4,117 signatures against the scheme, was set up by Mr Philp and submitted to Croydon Council – but despite the mass opposition the council’s planning committee gave the application the green light.
In reaction to the letter Mr Philp said: “This is a huge story for the people of Croydon South. 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.
“My reasons for opposing the application are that 17 floors is much too high for Purley, where the next highest building is only four floors.
“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.”