The Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport & Regeneration (voting – Job Share) stated that all planning documents were important, however Supplementary Planning Document 2 was especially important as it sought to deliver the homes which were needed within the borough. It was noted that Croydon was required to deliver 33,000 additional homes in the next 18 years and the necessary social infrastructure to support additional housing.
To facilitate the delivery of the additional homes, the Cabinet Member stated, the council had taken a proactive role in developing the guidance which had already been nominated for a planning award before it had been adopted. The Cabinet Member thanked all the officers involved in the development of the document and consultation events.
The Cabinet Member read out an email which a colleague had received from a Kenley resident to remind Members of why it was important that such a Guide was needed. The email outlined the residents’ desire for Kenley to remain the same, but that they supported planning applications as it was not possible for young people to afford houses in Kenley but flats would be more affordable. The email concluded by requesting that Members think of the young people in the borough when considering applications.
A presentation was provided to Cabinet which set out the context in Croydon which required a third of new homes to be delivered in the suburbs and the evolution of the suburbs over the last 100 years. The Guide, it was stated, sought to encourage developers to ensure sites were not underdeveloped and as such looked for wider, deeper and taller homes to ensure the effective use of sites. Whilst it was recognised that there would be an impact on the area following development, it was the ambition of the council to ensure that the negative impact was as small as possible.
The Cabinet Member noted that there was often a large amount of discussion in regard to character at Planning Committees, and whilst the Guide sought to retain the character of the area it supported innovative design or modern interpretation. Additionally, transport and parking were often discussed and it was recognised that social infrastructure and sustainable forms of transport were important for the delivery of homes, and the council continued to work with the Mayor to deliver transport improvements.
To facilitate the consultation on the Guide, officers set out windows at the events at the distance proposed for as gaps between developments so residents would be able to establish the possible impact.
The Cabinet Member stated that they had worked with officers to produce a guide which ensured sensitive intensification of land.
Concerns were raised by the Opposition spokesperson that the Guide did not protect the character of areas or support the right mix of development. It was felt that the Guide did not work for the current communities of Croydon, and that larger, taller, wider and deeper development would not fit within the local areas. As such, it was suggested that many residents would feel the Guide proposed a revolution rather than an evolution in the development of the suburbs as it was suggested the Guide allowed for intensification in any part of the borough.
Concerns were further raised that the council had not listened to those who had participated in the consultation and as such it was proposed that the document be taken back and revised to ensure it delivered for all of Croydon. In response the Leader noted that the government had imposed housing targets on the borough and that the council was seeking to deliver homes for the future; for those young people who were unable to afford housing and for the homeless. It was suggested that the Opposition considered what was the best means to deliver the much needed housing across the Borough.
Cabinet Members stated they felt the Guide was a well-constructed document which sought to deliver high quality housing in the suburbs, and voiced frustration that the Opposition suggested that brownfield or industrial sites were not being developed when the land was privately owned, and thus not in the council’s control.
It was noted that there had been a high level of responses to the consultation which suggested a huge strength of feeling in relation to suburban development; however some Members felt that the consultation responses had not been taken into consideration when developing the final Guide. In response the Cabinet Member stated that they had been able to have constructive engagement with a number of residents across the borough. Additionally, the Cabinet Member noted that the council was listening to those without a voice; such as children in schools who would want to own a home in the future, young people who were unable to afford a home in the borough, and the homeless.
The Cabinet Member noted that it was difficult to encourage more affordable housing as government policy remained that developments of ten or fewer homes did not need to contribute to affordable housing. Additionally, it was stated that the lack of housing in the borough was driving up the costs of homes. As such, it was important that the council took responsibility for delivering homes which residents would be able to afford.
The Leader of the Council delegated to the Cabinet the power to make the decisions below.
1. Consider the comments received and the Council’s responses at Appendix A of the report to the statutory public consultation on the draft Suburban Design Guide - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD2) (Appendix B of the report).
2. Agree the Consultation Statement, including the list of comments, responses and (where applicable) amendments at Appendix A of the report.
3. Note that the Council has undertaken a screening exercise with the statutory bodies to confirm the Suburban Design Guide - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD2) is not required to be supported by a Strategic Environmental Assessment.
RESOLVED: To recommend Council:
4. The adoption of the Suburban Design Guide - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD2) in accordance with The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012; and
5. Delegate to the Director of Planning and Strategic Transport, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport & Regeneration (Job Share), the making of minor factual, editorial and image changes to the Suburban Design Guide - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD2) prior to adoption publication.