Stop Croydon Council's planning bias destroying our community

by Alex Toogood

Stop Croydon Council's planning bias destroying our community

by Alex Toogood
Alex Toogood
Case Owner
Help us to protect our homes and community by exposing the conflict of interest in Croydon Council's planning process, and stopping their bias towards their own developer Brick by Brick.
Funded
on 16th May 2018
£6,075
pledged of £30,000 stretch target from 174 pledges
Alex Toogood
Case Owner
Help us to protect our homes and community by exposing the conflict of interest in Croydon Council's planning process, and stopping their bias towards their own developer Brick by Brick.

Latest: July 27, 2018

What next?

We promised to update this site once we had decided next steps. 

We have made the difficult decision to not appeal the judge's decision. We simply can't afford to continue this process....

Read more

We are fighting Croydon Council and their developer Brick by Brick to stop them building a development that will impact our families, block out our light, overlook our homes and damage our community

We need your support to raise the funds we need for our legal action, to overturn this planning decision, investigate and expose the conflict of interest within the council's planning process, and stop any further bias towards this developer.

Please contribute and share this page now!

Who are we?

My name is Alex Toogood, I'm married to Rob and we have two sons Jack (5) and Harry (3). We live in South Norwood in Croydon, London and are part of a local group of residents who are worried about the impact this development will have on our families and our community. We love our local community, where I volunteer as a governor at a local primary school. This development will have a huge impact on us all.  

The case

Croydon Council's planning committee recently granted planning permission for their own council-run development company, Brick by Brick Croydon Ltd, to build a 3 storey development behind our home. They will tear down our family's rear garden wall, which is currently one storey high, and replace it with a 3 storey, 9.8 metre wall. The developer's own planning experts have admitted that this building does not meet lighting guidelines, and will therefore reduce the light coming into our home and garden

This huge wall, towering over our home will be overbearing, oppressive and will block out our light

We are concerned that the council is driving through decisions without the usual democratic safeguards because the council is simultaneously the land owner, developer and planning authority. We feel there is a clear conflict of interest with this planning process. 

Brick by Brick's CEO, Colm Lacey, is Croydon Council's Director of Development. 

Brick by Brick is overseen by Cllr Alison Butler, Croydon Cabinet Member for Homes, Regeneration and Planning. Cllr Butler is married to Cllr Paul Scott, who is the chair of Croydon's planning committee.  

We feel there is clear conflict of interest within the council's planning committee, and a bias towards their own developer 

This developer is building all across Croydon on infill sites, green spaces and play areas. The majority of the housing they are building will be for private sale and there will be minimal affordable and council housing.

The ask

Please help us to raise the funds we need for our legal action.

We need to raise around £30k to pay our legal fees. We need your support: please contribute and share this page now!

Next steps

We have instructed Susan Ring of Harrison Grant solicitors to advise on whether there are grounds for judicial review of this planning permission, including on the basis of bias and predetermination. We will update all our supporters whenever we have news about this case. 

Contact

You can also contact us via email stopcroydonbxb@gmail.com

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Update 13

Alex Toogood

July 27, 2018

What next?

We promised to update this site once we had decided next steps. 

We have made the difficult decision to not appeal the judge's decision. We simply can't afford to continue this process. Two judges decided we didn't have a strong enough case and we have to accept that. 

Our solicitor doesn't think our case was without merit, and the judge clearly had some concerns, but unfortunately not enough to let us proceed to judicial review. 

Thank you to everyone who contributed to get us to this point. With your help we have raised the profile of this issue, and have found that there are many many people within Croydon and elsewhere who have similar concerns as us. We will continue to speak out against unfair practices and demand that locally elected officials work for their constituents. We will continue to champion community-led housing, and speak up against those who claim that the need for more housing justifies any means of getting it. 

You can follow me at @AlexToogood1 or contact us at stopcroydonbxb@gmail.com. 

Thanks again for all your support. 

Update 12

Alex Toogood

July 24, 2018

Outcome of today's oral hearing

Our oral hearing took place today and unfortunately the judge did not grant permission for judicial review. The judge was evidently troubled by the relationship between Cllr Butler and Cllr Scott. However, when he came to give judgment, he said that this relationship in the circumstances of the case did not give rise to apparent bias. He said we have a remedy in that we can make a complaint to the monitoring officer. We are considering an appeal and will update this site tomorrow. 

Update 11

Alex Toogood

July 23, 2018

Details of tomorrow's oral hearing

Tomorrow we are in the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, in Court 19, before Ouseley J at 10.30 a.m. 

We'll update this site as soon as we hear the outcome. 

Update 10

Alex Toogood

July 16, 2018

Oral hearing: One week to go

Thank you for visiting our site. We have one week to go till our case gets heard in court and a final decision is made on whether we can proceed to judicial review. 

We are still trying to raise more funds to help cover our legal costs for this stage, and the Council's costs, so this is a final request to all our supporters to help us if at all possible. It's easy to donate at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/croydon-planning-bias/

We'll update you as soon as we have any news on 24th July. 

Thank you again for all your support! 

Update 9

Alex Toogood

July 5, 2018

Date confirmed for Oral Permission Hearing

We have heard today from the Court that the Oral Permission Hearing has been listed for 24th July 2018 in the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. 


The hearing is public so anyone who wants may attend. We won't know the exact time of the hearing till the afternoon before, although it's likely to be heard in the morning on the 24th. Please see link below for directions to the court:


https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/courts/royal-courts-of-justice 


We will of course update this page with the outcome. Meanwhile if you want to support us, please donate here:  

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/croydon-planning-bias/ 


Many thanks

Alex Toogood

Update 8

Alex Toogood

June 28, 2018

High Court decision received

We have now heard that the judge has refused permission for judicial review, and so we are renewing our application to an oral hearing. 

This would give us the chance to make our case in court before another judge. 

I will check with our solicitor whether we are able to summarise the grounds of refusal here. Meanwhile we're still fundraising, to help pay towards the oral hearing, and if this hearing results in overturning the original judge's decision, we will need to be able to fund the judicial review and also cover some of the Council's costs. 

So please do support us by donating - without our backers we would not have been able to come this far. 

Thanks again for your support. The many messages we have received on this site and to our email have really kept us going. 

Update 7

Alex Toogood

June 9, 2018

Location, pictures and planning policy: how this development fails

A few people have asked where exactly this development is being planned, and I realise I didn't give this info on the case page - sorry about that!

The planning documents can be found here:

Ref 17/06360/FUL

This development will be built on the current site of garages north of Avenue Road, South Norwood, SE25, overlooking numerous 2 storey homes on Avenue Road and Warminster Road, and its 3 storey flank wall will be right up against the boundary of my property - and 10 metres from my back door - on Warminster Road. 

Here are some pics to demonstrate its impact on my own home. Current:

Developer's proposal:

The developer itself has admitted that 4 windows do not meet  Building Research Establishment (BRE) guidelines.

And here are some more drawings to show the impact on neighbouring homes. The development will overlook homes on Avenue Road:

This is what will happen:

This 3 storey block is not in keeping with the area. It will be taller than surrounding houses, will overlook homes and gardens, and block out light from existing homes. As highlighted on the developer's drawing below, the area is characterised by predominantly two storey homes:

While taller buildings exist further down Avenue Road, they will not be impacted by this development. The scale and form of the housing immediately surrounding the development site should guide what goes on the adjoining backland site.

We met with the developer back in December 2017 and ask them to consider a two storey block, which would have less of an impact on existing homes, would more likely meet planning policies, and would still provide nine or ten units (instead of twelve) - but they responded that this wasn't viable. And so they submitted plans for a development that contravenes numerous planning policies:

  • The density of the development is 302 habitable rooms per hectare. The London plan sets an upper limit of 200 habitable rooms per hectare for this area. The London plan states, “Development proposals which compromise this policy should be resisted.”
  • The garage block was built as part of the same Avenue Road development. Local plan Policy DM10.1 states in the cases of development in the grounds of an existing building which is retained, development shall be subservient to that building.
  • The local plan sets out the minimum % family sized units on sites more than 10 dwellings. In suburban areas, it requires 70 % of the units to have three bedrooms. The proposed development provides no family sized units. It is contrary to this policy.
  • Policy DM10.4 states that all flatted developments of 10 or more units must provide a minimum of 10m2 per child play space. The development provided no play space. It is contrary to this policy.
  • Policy DM10.6 says the council will only support proposals that do not result in the direct overlooking of private amenity space. Habitable room windows and the balconies would directly overlook the rear gardens of Avenue Road. It is contrary to this policy.

In 2014, the council refused planning permission for a 3-storey building on an adjoining backland site, literally the site next door, at the back of properties on Warminster Road (see 'a' in the picture above) for the following reasons:

  • "The proposal would result in over development of the site out of keeping with the character and visual amenity of the site and area by reason of its siting, massing and scale"
  • "The siting, layout, form and design of the development would not respect or improve the existing pattern of buildings and the spaces between them"

The applicant went to appeal. The council’s statement of case said:

  • "The proposed development would have some significant drawbacks; the proposed apartment block and parking area would take up a significant part of the site and would be highly visible when approaching the site from the proposed access road. The proposed development would have three full storeys…, seen from the northwest the mass and extent of the building would be excessive and would be at odds with the character of the area. Its overall bulk and tall, largely blank brick walls would appear particularly dominant and incongruous reasons of height"
  • "The site would lend itself much better to a smaller residential development, such as a mews type layout. This is the way forward for bringing about a successful development that would be proportionate to the site and human in scale"   
  • "Although the public views would be limited, from where it could be seen, and from surrounding properties, the uncompromising bulk and mass of the proposed block would be over-dominant and visually intrusive"
  • "It would not sit comfortably alongside the immediate buildings"

It is also worth comparing the size of the two sites. Not only is the adjoining site significantly larger but the developer only proposed nine units:


I know this is a really long update but I thought it would be useful to give some details of the reasons why we feel this development should not have been approved, and why this has led to us taking legal action. This is not 'nimbyism' - this development will adversely affect many people in our community (impact on light/overlooking/overbearing/parking pressures) and there are clearly some very valid concerns based on planning policy and guidelines. 

Do get in touch if you want to find out more, at stopcroydonbxb@gmail.com 

Update 6

Alex Toogood

June 7, 2018

Case update: Council and BxB respond to our case

Thank you for visiting our Crowd Funding page.

We've had numerous emails from people asking for updates and offering their help, and I bumped into one of our supporters a few weeks ago at South Norwood Lake,  and we had a good chat about the campaign.

The money we've raised so far has gone towards our legal fees to date, and will also pay some of the Council's fees. 

The Council and Brick by Brick have now filed their Acknowledgements of Service, and we are currently reviewing our response with our legal team.

We now have a stretch target of £30k, to help us take our case to the High Court and cover both ours and the Council's costs. 

We are asking anyone who has come to this page, if they could:

  • Email, text or WhatsApp your contacts again asking them to donate to our case
  • Post a link to Facebook or Twitter asking your friends or followers to donate
  • Tweet in support of our case
  • Donate yourself, or donate again!!

Here's the main link to our page: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/croydon-planning-bias/ 

Thanks again for your support. We'll keep you updated on any further developments.

 
Update 5

Alex Toogood

May 19, 2018

Evening sun in our garden

I thought it would be useful to see what the shadow cast by our current back wall is like, on a sunny evening in mid May, 6pm. 

So a three storey wall would cast a shadow over pretty much our whole garden at this time, while making our family room (which opens on to the garden) so much darker. Really highlights the immediate impact this development will have on us and our neighbours. 

Update 4

Alex Toogood

May 17, 2018

We've hit our target!

We are delighted to have reached our initial target £5k! 

We want to thank all those people and groups who have supported us by pledging, sharing our page on social media, and delivering leaflets. 

We have been overwhelmed with the messages of support we've received, both here in the comments on this site, and via emails and messages directly to us. It's clear to us that we are right to be pursuing this case. 

We will extend our crowd funding campaign to continue to raise the funds we'll need if we are to progress all the way to the High Court. 

We'll update this page as soon as we have an update. 

Thanks again to all our supporters. 

Update 3

Alex Toogood

May 11, 2018

80% raised with one week to go!

Thank you to our supporters who have helped us raise over 80% of our target. 

We now need one final push to raise the rest, with just over a week to go! 

If you're reading this, it would be great if you could:

  • Email, text or WhatsApp five of your friends asking them to pledge to our case
  • Post a link to Facebook asking your friends to pledge
  • Tweet in support of our case
  • Pledge yourself, or pledge again!

Many thanks 

Alex

Update 2

Alex Toogood

May 4, 2018

You've helped us raise over 50%!

Dear all

Thank you so much for helping us in our legal action. You have helped us raise 55% of our initial target! Thanks so much to all of our supporters! We've still got a few weeks to meet our £5k target, so it would be great if you could:

  • Email five of your friends asking them to pledge to our case
  • Post a link to Facebook asking your friends to pledge
  • Tweet in support of our case
  • Pledge again!

Case update

We have today issued our judicial review proceedings in the High Court and will be serving the Council and Brick by Brick with these proceedings.

Media update

We've had some fantastic media interest over the past few weeks. Here are our latest articles:

https://insidecroydon.com/2018/04/28/labour-leaders-cited-in-legal-challenge-over-brick-by-brick-bias/

https://insidecroydon.com/2018/04/20/neighbours-start-legal-challenge-over-brick-by-brick-bias/

https://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/news/croydon-news/planned-block-flats-croydon-objectors-1374918

https://insidecroydon.com/2018/04/30/time-for-our-planning-councillors-to-take-back-control/   

https://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/news/croydon-news/mum-ready-take-legal-action-1522599 


We've had more media interest this week so I'll update this page with further coverage and news of our campaign.

Thank you again for your support!

Update 1

Alex Toogood

May 3, 2018

Planning documents available

One of our supporters has asked whether the planning documents can be found online. Yes they are here:

Ref 17/06360/FUL

Thanks. 


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