Croydon moots green belt release for 5,300 homes to meet higher housing target

The London Borough of Croydon is considering releasing green belt land for 5,350 new homes in a review of its local plan in order to accommodate a 40 per cent hike in its annual housing need figure.

Croydon: Green light for local plan consultation
Croydon: Green light for local plan consultation

On Monday, Croydon Council's cabinet approved an issues and options document for a review of its local plan, adopted last year.

According to the report, a strategic housing market assessment (SHMA) by the council "has concluded that Croydon needs 46,040 new homes by 2039 to meet the borough’s housing need", or 2,302 homes a year over the 20-year period.

However, the current local plan only provides for 32,890 homes up to 2036, which equates to 1,645 new homes a year.

It said the local plan review, which is now underway, aims to meet the entire need of 46,040 homes. This would equate to a 40 per cent increase in the annual housing requirement.

One of the three strategic options outlined in the paper would involve releasing green belt land to house 5,350 homes in order to reduce development pressure in the borough’s suburbs.

A report by officers said it would be "easier to provide family homes on green belt sites" and that "more affordable housing can be provided on green belt sites as their existing financial value is low".

But it said the emerging London Plan does not encourage the loss of green belt land for residential development and the strategy would cause environmental harm.

It added: "By releasing green belt for residential development it may make other parts of the borough, in particular Croydon town centre and Purley Way, less attractive places to develop, inadvertently increasing the pressure to redevelop the suburbs."

Another strategic option would direct a third of the new homes to central Croydon, mostly on larger developments, the document says.

This would involve the intensification of development in areas near to train or tram stops, "resulting in a gradual change of character" to these areas.

However, the report said this option "is the easiest to deliver, it complies with national and regional planning policy, it is not overly reliant on large volume of housebuilders to deliver homes (meaning there is less risk in Croydon falling behind on its housing targets and needs) and there will be no loss of green belt land".

The final option would "probably be the hardest to deliver as it is the most reliant on large, complex development sites to deliver", the report said.

It would see a radical transformation of the Purley Way, a dual carriageway currently home to a number of retail and commercial operations.

The area would accommodate 9,500 to 12,000 homes in high-density schemes, and would reduce pressure on existing suburbs without harming the green belt, the report said.

However, it said "there is a real risk that if developers did not build at the required rate, then Croydon’s suburbs could still be under great pressure from development, which would have not been proactively planned for".

Paul Scott, the council’s cabinet lead for planning and regeneration, said: "We face difficult challenges if we are all to have a home we can afford in a place we are proud to call home, within a caring local community. There will be no simple answers."

As part of the consultation, residents will be asked about future infrastructure planning and provision, healthcare and education, community facilities and leisure opportunities. The document also looks at improving the quality of new homes and increasing the delivery of affordable homes.

The consultation begins on 8 November and finishes on 8 January next year.

In April, Croydon adopted a supplementary planning document providing design guidance for suburban residential developments and extensions as well as alterations to existing homes.

Earlier this week, inspectors examining the draft new London Plan concluded that mayor Sadiq Khan must commit to a review of the city's green belt to meet future development needs and called for the plan to water down its tough stance against green belt development.

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