A large crowd of residents protested outside Croydon Council on Monday 1 April to call for major changes to the council’s planning system.
The protesters were joining my calls for a “brownfield first” policy for future planning proposals, and for the introduction of new Area Planning Committees.
Under the current system, the council gives permission to over 90 per cent of all contentious planning applications. In particular, they are routinely allowing family housing to be destroyed and replaced with small blocks of flats.
Neighbouring Boroughs Bromley and Sutton do not allow this.
A brownfield first policy would stop the council from focusing on replacing family homes with flats. Instead flats would be built on brownfield sites until all of them have been used – a point that is at least 10 years away.
Area Planning Committees, an idea which was put forwards by the opposition Conservative group at the council, were also supported by the protesters.
This would make planning decisions more accountable. “Area Planning Committees” would divide Croydon up into three areas (say, north, central and south) and only councillors from that area decide smaller applications in that area.
At the moment, councillors from distant parts of Croydon who do not understand the area decide applications – often imposing very bad schemes. Many other councils including the London Boroughs of Kingston and Barnet, and Wiltshire and Durham amongst others have Area Planning Committees already.
I was delighted to see such a fantastic turnout from residents who are passionate about their local area.
I have also set up a petition alongside Cllr Mario Creatura, which has received nearly 4,000 signatures. This is a huge level of support from local people to protect the area from over development. Our petition is here – www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CroydonPlanning