Why East Coulsdon Residents’ Association is supporting Brick By Brick developments

By - Friday 2nd March, 2018

We have been listened to

Parking outside the CALAT centre in Coulsdon.
Photo author’s own.

East Coulsdon Residents’ Association will be supporting the four linked Brick By Brick (the council’s housebuilding arm) developments in Coulsdon because, unlike previous developments, we believe that these are in the interest of existing residents and businesses of Coulsdon. The Coulsdon residents’ associations and other interested parties have been in discussion with Brick By Brick for over a year and now believe we have managed to get to a stage where the developments are in the interest of Coulsdon to assist in keeping it as a vibrant and viable town centre.

We believe that these projects have to be seen in the light of today’s housing shortage, where to obtain a house in Coulsdon you need to be earning £75,000+, or inherit a house from your parents. This means that too many young people who have been brought up in Coulsdon cannot afford to stay in the area. This also causes care problems as their parents get older with their children living out of the area.

You also have to look at what is in the interest of the town centre not only for local businesses, but also for the residents who shop there and use the local facilities. Today over 30% of purchases are either on the internet or catalogue shopping delivered by an ever-increasing number of white vans. The results of this can be seen all over Britain with empty shops and charity shops in high streets and boarded up local shopping parades. In 2017, more high street shops and restaurants closed than in any other year.

The development must include affordable units for local people

Coulsdon as a district centre has fared better than many other local shopping centres not only because it is a nice place, having a varied and interesting range of shops and other facilities in the town centre, but has managed to change and adapt. One of the reasons being over the last few years there have been some 300 new dwellings constructed in and around the town centre which have been occupied by many young people and families who shop and spend time in the town centre.

We are of the view that to maintain a vibrant town centre, it will continue to need things that bring people to the town centre and provide what people need in the 21st century. The town centre also needs good public transport and parking.

The four projects

Lion Green Car park. Under the previous administration, the council plan (which we objected to) meant the car park was to be closed and handed over to a new supermarket with parking for users of the supermarket only. When the project collapsed the new council administration reopened the car park but gave notice they would want to put some housing on part of the car park. The local residents’ associations and businesses were approached by Brick By Brick with a plan for residential developments and 50 parking places for the town centre. We told Brick By Brick this was unacceptable. We told them that we needed at least as many parking places as there were at the time – 114 – and this should be increased to 120.

There also needed to be adequate access to Richmond Hall (the home of 1st Coulsdon Scouts). The new buildings should be of good design and reflect the rest of Coulsdon with a brick exterior matching one of the local bricks. The development must include affordable units for local people. The London Loop footpath should be diverted to pass the ancient monument of the Surrey Iron Railway embankment at the rear, in order that this becomes visible to the public.

We feel listened to: the final plan has 116 public parking places (and they are trying to find more) for the town centre with 153 apartments in 5 blocks with a brick exterior with a mixture of apartments for both purchase and affordable. These would around 50 residential parking places. The Scouts maintain access to their hall and the London loop will be diverted.

CALAT Centre: A new community centre and a medical centre

When the residents’ associations met Brick By Brick, the options were to demolish the old Smitham School Building and build flats, or convert the old building into apartments and build new flats in each of the playgrounds. The residents’ associations suggested that all four projects in Coulsdon should be linked together. Rather than pull the old school building down when it is part of Coulsdon heritage, they could look at converting the building into town centre community facilities and a badly needed up to date Medical Centre.

The new community centre. We were pleased that Brick By Brick agreed to look at this suggestion and they approached the existing community centre users to see if they would be prepared to move to the CALAT site. After much discussion, the community centre users agreed that if the facilities on offer at the CALAT Centre would be as good or better than the existing facilities. The residents’ associations gave their support to the community centre users and would not support a move unless the facilities are as good as those in the existing community centre.

We are now at the stage where Brick By Brick are offering the same types of facilities as at the existing community centre, but with extra rooms and a new theatre building with dedicated parking in the Malcolm Road entrance. We are waiting final agreement from the community centre users.

These developments are in the town centre and accessible by public transport from all parts of Coulsdon

The new medical centre. In the original Lion Green plan, part of the supermarket building would have had a new medical centre. Brick By Brick agreed to approach the NHS to see if they were still in favour of a new medical centre in Coulsdon. After some discussion, the NHS came back and agreed in principle that they wanted to update the medical facilities in Coulsdon to what was needed for the 21st century.

Agreement in principle has been reached between Brick By Brick and the NHS, and there will be a new medical centre at the Woodcote Grove Road side of the CALAT site. This will have an entrance in Woodcote Grove Road and parking space for people with disabilities and an ambulance.

These developments are in the town centre and accessible by public transport from all parts of Coulsdon and will encourage people to spend time in the time in the town centre.

East Coulsdon Residents’ Association will continue to press for more conditions

The community centre on Barrie Close. If the existing community centre users do move to the CALAT centre. The existing 1938 building will be demolished and replaced by 33 dwelling in 2 rows of terrace houses and 2 blocks of flats which included flats suitable for people with disabilities. This is in an existing residential area and will have 33 parking places for the dwellings.

Overall we believe that, when put together, these four developments are in the best interest of Coulsdon residents and businesses. They will bring more people to Coulsdon, it will enable more people to access these town centre facilities by public transport. It will provide 190 badly-needed new dwellings including affordable ones, and some suitable for people with disabilities.

East Coulsdon Residents’ Association will continue to press for more conditions. Lion Green car park should remain open throughout construction. It should include a mixture of short and long-term parking. Additional parking should be sought and if necessary the design should be capable of a lightweight upper deck in the future. There must be decent landscaping on Lion Green. The new community centre facilities at the CALAT Centre should be as good or better than the existing facilities. The Medical Facilities should be available to all residents and from both Coulsdon and the surrounding area.

We have engaged with Brick By Brick in a constructive manner, and we have been listened to. We hope this continues.

Charles King

Charles King

Charles is a long-time resident of Coulsdon, and chair of the East Surrey Transport Committee. Passionate about railways and his local area, he has held a number of positions in community and residents' organisations. He is a member of the Labour Party, and a former chair of its Croydon South constituency party.

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  • Michael Swadling

    Charles – your article has rather failed to mention a rather key point. The East Coulsdon Residents Association doesn’t cover any of the areas these new Brick by Brick developments are happening in. This is rather like Sutton Council coming out in full support of controversial developments in Croydon. These developments are focused around the Lion Green Road / Chipstead Valley Road / Woodcote Grove junction. This is a traffic blackspot at the best of times and major developments in this area are hardly likely to help. The development of Lion Green Car park will further reduce the car parking spaces in the town impacting local businesses. The immediate area has nothing above four storey yet the new blocks are 5/6/7 storey so will dominate the area and change the charter of the roads which are mainly filled with old cottages. Yes we do need new homes, the Cain Hill development in Coulsdon has already added many hundreds of homes. More can we added in the town centre but need to be suitable for their locally and supported by actual local residents.