This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 20/08/2018.
Decision on whether new tower block can be built in Surrey Street put on hold
A new eight-storey block of flats in planned but 6,000 people have signed a petition to save Matthews Yard
The decision on whether a block of flats can be built on the site that houses community venue Matthews Yard has been pushed back.
Councillors were unhappy with the lack of affordable housing in the scheme.
Croydon Council’s planning committee met on Thursday night (August 16) to decide on the controversial proposal to replace 5-9 Surrey Street with an eight-storey block of 55 flats.
Earlier this year a pre-application came to the panel which showed the development would have 34 per cent affordable housing.
But when the final plans came to the meeting on Thursday the amount had been reduced to 24 per cent.
The site is currently home to a conference centre, with the first floor of the building used by Folly’s End Fellowship Church, the basement by Matthews Yard and the retail unit by a 99p shop.
Disappointment was expressed at Regent Land and Development Ltd’s number of affordable homes in the scheme.
For this reason councillors voted unanimously to defer a decision, giving the developer a chance to come back with a plan that includes more affordable homes.
Matthews Yard founder Saif Bonar spoke against the plans at the meeting on behalf of the 80 people who objected and 6,000 who signed a petition to save the venue.
He said: “The development is falling short of the target for family homes and houses.
“One of the reasons for giving approval is underutilsation of the site.
“This is a false assertion that has been perpetuated throughout pre-planning.
“The building is almost fully occupied and has been for a number of years. It is primarily used for community purposes – housing a church, Matthew’s Yard and more recently a boxing club providing important health, wellbeing and personal development opportunities for young people.
“The remaining commercial unit is occupied by Sam 99p a heavily used low-cost supermarket.”
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Richard Quelch from planning consultant GVA said: “Our client did have an aspiration to deliver 34 per cent (affordable homes). There have been a number of additional matters that have been factored into the viability assessment which has resulted in the provision of 24 per cent.”
Planning chair Councillor Paul Scott said: “I am very disappointed by the level of affordable housing that has been offered and that is a hard thing to swallow.
“I do wonder whether the quality and the cost [of the development] is being overdone.”
His thoughts were echoed by members of the committee who agreed to defer the decision.
Council planners and the developer will look at the plans again in an attempt to offer more affordable housing.
“Hopefully the debate we’ve had there will help inform discussions and we will see something come back soon,” added Cllr Scott.