Saturday, March 29, 2008

Letter to the editor on Croydon Vision 2020

Iylo Tower, Wellesley Square


Dear Editor,

This year is a landmark for the world’s population. For the first time half will live in cities and urban areas. After nearly 50 years of decline London’s population has increased to around 7.5 million people. Croydon is London’s most populated borough with some 350,000 inhabitants. The idea of being identified as ‘London’s Third City’ is not without merit if one considers the sheer size of the borough and the Council’s vertical vision of central Croydon; commonly known as Croydon Vision 2020.

Belatedly, we are finally being given an opportunity to express our views in a Croydon Council consultation on this rush to “build ‘em big and build ‘em high.” Unsurprisingly, this consultation has gone unnoticed due to poor publicity. Could this be the reason why the consultation’s summary leaflet has the closing date for comments of 31st March crossed out and a new date of 14th April handwritten in pen?

Much of the usual slanging between the Labour and Conservative councillors covered by this paper has been over the number of affordable homes in the proposed central Croydon developments, in particular Wellesley Square. I find it incredible that the Planning Committee have allowed a tower with 739 dwellings to have a mere 10 per cent or around 74 falling in the affordable category. The minimum should be 60 per cent. Additionally, shop rents need be at a level to attract independent retailers that keep profits within Croydon and not send them to remote corporate headquarters.

Further, there has been little discussion about how these developments could be built sustainably with low energy consumption. High oil prices, fuel security and climate change are already problems but in12 years time they will be of even more acute. Council regulations only require 10 per cent of a new developments’ energy to be generated from on site renewables and I understand that developers are looking for ways to circumvent this in order to reduce costs. Yet, in China, they are building ‘zero energy’ skyscrapers. Who is playing catch up? Any new development in Croydon should employ every technique available to meet its own energy demands.

As well as the central Croydon consultation, I hope readers realise that there is another ‘public consultation’ in a few weeks time. The GLA elections will give residents in London and Croydon an opportunity to shape the environment for themselves and their children. To put it simply, voters can choose if they want a bright Green future built on ethical and sustainable foundations or a dangerous and uncertain one formed on tokenism and short term thought.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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