Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Call In vs CPO

Here is the text of an email I received from Tim Pollard today:

"Dear Mr Frost

Apologies for the delay in replying to your email – it is a rather busy time of year…..

The £180,000 costs referred to in the Croydon Guardian report related to the costs that the Council incurred in relation to the Call-in Inquiry. It has long been public knowledge that the Council had to meet its own costs in relation to the Call-in Inquiry to maintain its independence and impartiality as Local Planning Authority.

The letter from Phillip Goodwin to Andrew Pelling MP was part of a chain of correspondence which related to the costs of the CPO Inquiry and the position in relation to those costs is as stated in that letter and the latest Council question dealing with the issue to which the Croydon Guardian advert is referring, i.e. the costs of the CPO Inquiry are being met by CCRLLP.

For your information, I attach a copy of that Council Question and the Answer given to it.

Regards

Cllr Tim Pollard
"

Here is the text of the attachment that Tim sent:

"CQ504-07

from Councillor Avril Slipper

RE Could the Cabinet Member please tell me if he is aware of the cost of the Gateway Enquiry, and who is paying the bill?

Reply

The final cost to the Council of the Gateway public inquiry is likely to be in the region of £180,000, although I am unable to provide an exact cost at present because all invoices in relation to the inquiry have not yet been provided.

However, the majority of the cost of the inquiry is being met by Central Croydon Regeneration Limited Liability Partnership (CCRLLP), the partnership between Arrowcroft and Frogmore. CCRLLP is meeting the cost of presenting their case at the Call-in inquiry and is also meeting the total cost of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) inquiry, as under the terms of the Development Agreement the Council has with CCRLLP, the latter is obliged to pay all the Council’s CPO costs.

The Council needed its own QC, legal advice and consultants to present the Council’s case at the Call-in inquiry, which makes up the £180,000 figure referred to above
."

I then asked Tim what the difference is between the "call in inquiry" and the "CPO inquiry". Here is his answer:

"Ken

The Inspector heard three separate Inquiries, back to back. One was the call in of the Planning Permission, one was for the CPO itself, and the last was for the stopping up of part of Lansdowne Road. At the call in, the evidence heard related to the technical planning aspects of the scheme and it is broadly similar to any other planning permission inquiry, albeit on a grander scale. It's outcome is the granting (or refusal) of Planning Permission.

The CPO Inquiry tests whether the Council is correct in its desire to CPO the land and evaluates the suggested public good against the requirements of the Circular which outlines the conditions required for a successful CPO. It's outcome is the confirmation (or not) of a CPO.

Although it was the same Inspector and many of the key witnesses and Counsel are the same, the two Inquiries are quite separate, hearing different evidence and were separated by a recess of one week. They could have been held months apart, but it suited all parties to conjoin them.

Cllr Tim Pollard
"

So there we are, Croydon council have not incurred any costs re the CPO for the arena and the council is determined to maintain its independence and impartiality as a Local Planning Authority.

I would like to venture one very modest observation; had the council not backed the arena there would be no "call in inquiry", and hence the council would not have needed to spend £180K of our money on it.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Sardines

The Croydon Guardian have picked up on something noted on this site in October, concerning the number of trams to be laid on for people leaving arena events.

As noted, the current "plans" allow for 9,000 people per tram.

Yes, that will work!

As the Guardian says:

"Visitors to the planned arena in Croydon could face 'transport chaos' because of a shortage of trams."

Roger Harding, general manager at Tramtrack, is quoted in the Guardian:

"It is an outline of the sort of thing we might have to do when the arena gets a little closer but we are going to sit down with the management and we are going to agree a final position if the arena is given the go ahead."

In other words, he doesn't think that the arena is going to happen!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

How Very Curious

Now here is a very curious thing.

The Croydon Guardian reports that Croydon Council have incurred legal costs of £180K:

"After an eight-week inquiry into the Gateway scheme Croydon Council has been left with a bill of around £180,000.

This is just the costs the council has to cover, which pays for its legal advice
."

Looks like we're going to need a few payday loans!

Why is it then that Phillip Goodwin, Croydon Council's Director of Planning and Transportation, wrote to Andrew Pelling on 30 January 2007 and told him:

"Almost all of the Gateway CPO costs will be 'direct' and therefore the responsibility of Arrowcroft...

The only costs the Council has to meet are ongoing internal staffing costs
..."

How very curious!

Why would he say that then?

I have emailed Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for finance, asking him to explain why Croydon council said that there would be no costs of this nature.

Copy of Goodwin's letter:


Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Friday, 30 November 2007

Arrogance

It seems that Arrowcroft may be guilty of displaying a degree of arrogance over their chances of winning the CPO inquiry.

Go to their site, click on "Planning Application" then on "Timetable". There you will see:

Mid 2008 – Anticipated start on site

Early 2010 – Arena up and running in time for the 2012 Olympic Games


Counting your chickens a bit aren't you guys?

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Closing Arguments

Croydon Gateway Limited Partnership (CGLP), a joint venture between developer Stanhope and Schroders, presented its closing arguments to the public inquiry into the arena development on Monday.

Keith Lindblom QC, for CGLP, said:

"CGLP's proposals are so distinctly superior in numerous respects to the Arrowcroft scheme that there is plainly a compelling case in the public interest to reject the CPO, thus preventing the possibility of Arrowcroft's scheme replacing a development of world class quality and function, or at best causing it still further unnecessary delay."

CGLP also questioned Arrowcroft's ability to fund the scheme, adding that the Arrowcroft designs were inferior to the CGLP office scheme, and that the arena was not financially or commercially viable.

The decision now rests with Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State, and is not expected to be announced for some months.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Truck Off!

The inquiry into the CPO is now over, aside from the final submissions due on the 19th of November.

The final week threw up a few amusing nuggets, showing that Arrowcroft have not thought through their last minute revisions to their plans particularly well.

Moving one of the walls a little bit to accommodate the extra platform space that Network Rail wanted would result in the substation being reduced in size, the Warehouse Theatre being reduced by a further 10%, and put some lifts out of alignment on different floors.

Also, in the proof of evidence, this came to light:

"From: "Andrew Roberts"
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 17:17:07
To:"Christopher O'Reilly" ,
Subject: 70401 - Arena Servicing

Chris/Murray,

I understand that in evidence Murray, you suggest up to 14 service vehicles arriving
at 0800-1030am, which conflicts with the advice previously given regarding 8 - 10
trucks loading over a 3 hour period.

If 14 vehicles are likely to service the arena in a 2.5hour period, how do we avoid
bunching, bearing in mind the advice regarding inefficiencies if too many things are
being unloaded at once. Also, what method do you anticipate employing to avoid all
vehicles turning up at once, which is critical bearing in mind how tight the
manoeuvring space is.

Finally, none of the advice I have seen relates to any specific provision for
'artistes' trucks to stay during an event.

Is this a weakness of the scheme?

Regards
Andy
Andrew Roberts
Associate Director
"

Source Persona

It seems that precious little thought has been given to the consequences of artistes trucks (coaches,vehicles etc for touring companies like ice-shows, ballet, opera and orchestras etc) servicing the arena.

Hardly inspired planning, is it?

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Arrowcroft To Make an Offer II

In today's Croydon Guardian:

"The fact Arrowcroft is looking to make an offer, days before the end of the inquiry, could indicate that it doesn't believe it is going to succeed in acquiring the site."

Exactly!

However, this "offer" has as much chance of succeeding as hell freezing over:

1 The difference in valuations £50M is far too large

2 Why did Arrowcroft not buy the land when it was available?

3 Why did they not make an offer before the CPO?

4 Albert Dock in Liverpool is owned by Arrowcroft, and shows losses in excess of £1M and debts of £24M in the company accounts. Given the financial difficulties of another Arrowcroft "prestige project", why are Croydon Council so sure that the Arrowcroft plans for the Gateway are financially viable?

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Arrowcroft To Make an Offer

According to Property Week, Arrowcroft and Croydon Council are about to make an offer to Stanhope Schroders for the Croydon Gateway site.

Paul White of Frogmore (the company that is providing finance for the arena) is quoted by Property Week as saying:

"Notwithstanding the fact that we have now been told there is an overage* provision, that won't get in the way of negotiations on our acquiring Stanhope and Schroders' interest in the site."

*Overage provision is a condition attached to the sale of land, where anyone buying the site would pay more if or when planning permission for the site is granted.

However, don't worry, it should be noted that there is a £47M to £55M discrepancy between the two sides over how much they think the site is worth.

The fact that the council and Arrowcroft are looking to make an offer, before the end of the inquiry, indicates that they don't believe that they are going to win.

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Arena Will Destroy Warehouse Theatre

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, who is on the Warehouse's board, has given a stark warning in the Croydon Guardian as to the fate of the Warehouse Theatre in the event that the Arrowcroft arena is built.

In his view, and the view of the board of the theatre, the arena will spell the end of the Warehouse Theatre.

Quote:

"The proposed location is of concern. I still consider that the location, and indeed design of the theatre, is an afterthought.

Given the lack of deliverability of a new Warehouse Theatre in so many areas we recommend that planning is refused and the CPO declined.

The Arrowcroft scheme just doesn't seem to have been thought through or properly finished. We are happy with the plans with Stanhope Schroder and the general view is that if the Arrowcroft scheme goes through then we've had it
."

The arena is unwanted, unloved and unnecessary.

Let us get on with developing that ugly canker on the backside of Croydon, known as Dingwall Road.

Welcome To Dingwall Road Croydon

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Monday, 5 November 2007

The Real London Arena

Croydon Council and Arrowcroft would have us believe that their plans for the Croydon arena are viable.

They are very quiet about the O2 arena at Greenwich.

Why is that then?

Read this:

"The O2 promise to deliver the widest range of entertainment possible under one canopied roof. It has the capacity to host 20,000 people in The O2 Arena – a maximum capacity perfect for the big name acts it attracts.

The arena benefits both the punters and the performer with its perfect sight-lines from every angle, crystal clear acoustics, comfortable seating, wide aisles and a huge variety of snacks and beverages.

Ellison said:

'The O2 has changed the face of concert-going by offering visitors an enhanced experience. Visitors can enjoy a first rate meal in one of our 25 bars and restaurants before or after the show.

Our arena food is of the highest quality - we do offer burgers and hotdogs but also stir fries, freshly made sandwiches and salads. People can come down and spend the afternoon there even if they aren't attending a concert. The cinema is hugely popular and attractions like this summer's beach saw over 100,000 people visit.'

It also boasts to have successfully avoided any long waits to the lavatories by fitting 548 toilets into the venue.

Transport links to The O2 also makes the venue one of the most convenient venues available. 'The transport links to The O2 are fantastic,' said Ellison.

'The Jubilee Line carries visitors from Bond Street to North Greenwich in 20 minutes; we own The Thames Clipper service which ferries customers to and from The O2 down to Waterloo and London Bridge Pier every half an hour. There are 2,000 car parking spaces as well as a 24 hour bus service. Customer experience is everything.'
."

Now ask yourselves this, who the hell do the council and Arrowcroft think that they are kidding when they claim that their arena is viable in the face of competition from the O2 arena?

Read more about the O2 arena here O2

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Wakey Wakey Tim!

Oh dear, according to the Croydon Guardian, it would seem that the arena inquiry simply isn't stimulating enough for Councillor Tim Pollard:

"Councillor Tim Pollard, the town hall's cabinet member for finance and regeneration, arrived at the inquiry bright eyed and bushy tailed last Wednesday but within half an hour his eyes began rolling and soon his head was slumped on to his chest.

Despite this being one of the most important issues the council has had to face since it won the election last year, it seems it was not exciting enough to keep Coun Pollard awake
."

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Monday, 29 October 2007

Welcome To Lah Lah Land

Those of you who are worried about the negative impact that the arena will have on the quality and availability of public transport in Croydon, need not worry.

Here is the "plan" for controlling and "marshalling" the extra crowds expected to descend upon Croydon, if the arena is built:

Summary of Agreement with Tramtrack Croydon Ltd. (1.10.07)

1.2. TCl suggest that a higher percentage of visitors to the Arena will use the trams and, therefore, additional trams will be required for major events. An agreement has been completed with Tramtrack that secures marshalling requirements and the provision of additional trams to be paid for by Central Croydon Regeneration Limited Liability Partnership (CCRLLP) when certain triggers are reached ("the Agreement").

2.4.1. Where marshalling requirements are implemented through the Arena Management Plan and where attendance at an event is below 7,500 the number of Additional Tram Services to be provided by TCL eastbound to meet anticipated demand during the hour after the event ends is zero; between 7,500 and 9,250 it is one; between 9,250 and 10,000 it is two; above 10,000 the number of Additional Tram Services to be provided by TCL eastbound to meet anticipated demand during the Exit Hour is three.

2.4.3...and to discuss with TCL the feasibility of extending the East Croydon Tram Platforms so that they are capable of holding 2 stationary trams as part of those works.

2.4.4. (a)....... the following information will be communicated within the Arena to spectators attending a Major Event:

(i) the arrival times of trams at the East Croydon Tram Platforms during the Exit Hour; and

(ii) subject to TCL having obtained the prior written agreement of TfL, that the Wellesley Road Platform is for alighting only and boarding of the trams by visitors to the Arena will not be permitted at this platform during the Exit Hour;

(b).......include the following Marshalling Requirements:

(i) To segregate tram passengers in an area not less than 400 m2 from those customers of the Arena seeking to use East Croydon Railway Station and bus stations and car parking in Fairfield.

(ii) To organise the management of separate queues for each tram destination as agreed between the Developer and TCL and hold waiting passengers in those queues pending the availability of trams for the relevaant designation.

(iii) Release passengers from relevant queues on instruction from staff of the Tram operator.

(iv) Consider with the Developer appropriate management of passenger flows in the direction of Wellesley Road for West Croydon station and local Car parks and determine whether similar queueing and segregation will be required for Wellesley Road tram stop.

Oh yes, this will definitely work!

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Warehouse Proof of Evidence

My thanks to the Warehouse Theatre for sending me their proof of evidence against the proposed arena development.

They will be presenting this at the public inquiry into the compulsory purchase order this coming week.

As you can see form the extract below, Arrowcroft and Frogmore have had no meaningful dialogue with the Warehouse; despite their, and the council's claims, that they have now included a genuine proposal for a replacement theatre in their plans for the arena development.

How can you design a replacement Warehouse theatre if you have not spoken to the people who own and run the Warehouse?

1. In February 2004 we made our position in relation to both developers crystal clear on our web site. That statement was designed to ensure that everyone knew what our intention was:

"We seek a replacement for our current building, as we not only out-grew it some time ago, but it also does not comply with disability regulations nor does it have enough seats to continue to be commercially viable for the longer term.

We welcomed the offer by Stanhope/Schroders for a replacement theatre in their proposals. This had not been offered by the other potential developer. We believe that the provision of a new theatre for us on the Gateway site adds enormous value and diversity to this development.

Our responsibility is to ensure that we have a venue in Croydon to undertake our core activities - as a producing theatre for new writing and providing entertainment & education for the benefit of the Croydon community.

Accordingly, the company will continue to seek to have dialogue with developers, officers and members of Croydon Council, the Mayor of London, government ministers etc. to pursue our goal for a new theatre and our future in the development."

2. We continue to pursue the above policy and have made strenuous efforts to do so.
We have had several 'off the record' meetings with Arrowcroft since 2004 which have
led nowhere. In 2007 we also wrote to their new funding partner 'Frogmore' who referred us back to Arrowcroft.

3. The Warehouse Theatre therefore proceeded with our objections to the planning application and the CPO because a new theatre has not been included in Arrowcroft's
plans.

4. It was only on 5th June 2007 that we received a letter from Arrowcroft identifying
how a replacement theatre 'could' be included in their scheme and how this would be
achieved through a section 106 agreement. A plan (PL050) was included showing its proposed location. However, we then understood that this plan does not form part of
the planning application. We have had no meaningful dialogue with either the acquiring authority or Arrowcroft about this proposal either before, or indeed
subsequently.

5. The Theatre is of the view that this is not a viable way forward. A comprehensive
plan has to be in place to achieve the continuity of our business from our current site to a new building if our objections are to be removed. The Arrowcroft proposal does not achieve this.


The document goes on to note that the scheme "is we understand under financial stress without an end funder in place".

In other words, do Arrowcroft actually have the money to follow through on their plans for an arena development?

The complete Proof of Evidence document can be downloaded via this link: Warehouse Proof of Evidence.

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Friday, 26 October 2007

Questions Over Funding

The public inquiry into the Arrowcroft and Croydon Council arena heard this week that there were question marks over the funding of the project.

It was pointed out that Arrowcroft and the council have not signed contracts with banks or third parties to provide the funding required for the project, and that so far Frogmore has only committed £3M to the project.

Source PropertyWeek.com

At a public inquiry last Friday, the possibility of the sale of the controversial Croydon Gateway site was raised, which could end the decade-long fight between the two rival developers: Stanhope and Schroders; and Arrowcroft and Croydon Council.

If a sale of the site can be agreed it will end the matter before it goes to secretary of state for communities and local government Hazel Blears at the end of the inquiry.

Stanhope and Schroders own the site in question, and have planning permission for a 1m sq ft office and residential-led scheme called Ruskin Square.

However, the council and development partner Arrowcroft, with funding from Paul White's Frogmore, have proposed a 2m sq ft Croydon Gateway scheme that would feature a 12,500-seat arena.

The inquiry, which has one week left to run, deals with two issues: whether planning permission should be granted to the arena-led scheme; and, if it is, whether Croydon Council can go ahead with a compulsory purchase order to force Stanhope and Schroders to sell the 9 acres that they own in the 13 acre site.

Last Friday, the inquiry heard that the council and Arrowcroft have never made a formal offer to Stanhope and Schroders to buy their part of the site.

Alan Jones, finance director of Arrowcroft, said this was because the company was unsure whether any purchase of the land would contain an overage provision.

This would state that a larger sum would have to be paid if planning consent for a higher use value were to be obtained.

Keith Lindblom QC, acting for Stanhope and Schroders, told the inquiry that no such provision existed, and that any bid for the land would be welcomed.

It is thought that if Arrowcroft and the council receive written confirmation that there is no overage provision, they will make an offer to buy the land owned by Stanhope and Schroders after evidence on the site’s value is heard next week.

However, evidence is to be submitted showing a £47m to £55m difference in how much the two sides think the site is worth.

William Hill, head of property at Schroders, said: 'I can confirm that Arrowcroft and the council have made no offer to us or the previous landowners for part or all of the site.

However, there is no encumbrance to them doing so. If they made us an offer at a price that reflected the value and potential return of the site, then we would, of course, consider it. But as it stands, it is our intention to continue with our development.
'

As the inquiry enters its final week, it has moved from examining whether the council and Arrowcroft’s scheme should be granted planning permission, to whether it should be allowed to use a CPO to purchase the land.

Stanhope and Schroders were among the objectors to the scheme being given planning permission. Their evidence to the planning inspector stated that the arena was not economically viable, and that the scheme did not contain enough affordable housing.

But in its submission regarding the CPO, Croydon Council said the arena was vital to regenerating Croydon and changing its image as a 'concrete jungle'. Jon Rouse, chief executive of Croydon Council, said in his evidence: ‘We all want it to happen because we know that it will have a profoundly positive impact on the prospects of this town.

'Only the Gateway [site] makes sense as the location for a major entertainment and leisure facility.'

However, Stanhope and Schroders sought to show that the funding and operation of the potential arena is far from secure. Lindblom pointed out that Arrowcroft and the council have not signed contracts with banks or third parties to provide the funding required for the project, and said that so far Frogmore has only committed £3m to the project.

However, Paul White, managing director of Frogmore, who agreed to fund the scheme in February, said: 'I am reasonably offended by the suggestion that I would go back on my word. Frogmore has an unblemished reputation when it comes to providing funding.'

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

No Experience Necessary

It seems that, in the view of Arrowcroft anyway, you don't need any experience to run the proposed Croydon arena.

At the ongoing public inquiry this week, it emerged Stradivarious, run by former sports promoter and theatre producer Patrick Nally (a man with no experience of running arenas), would own the stadium.

Unbelievable!

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

The Arrogance of Croydon Council

It would seem that our beloved "leaders" in Croydon Council are not taking the concerns of their electorate very seriously, when it comes to questions over the negative impact that the arena will have on public order and safety.

Judging by the email (see below) that I received on Sunday from a fellow resident of Croydon, the council are doing their best to sweep such concerns "under the rug" without actually addressing the electorate's questions and concerns.

Breathtaking arrogance by anyone's standards!

Copy of email received Sunday:

"Dear Ken

Yesterday I attended, as part of my Residents' Association duties, a Neighbourhood Watch conference at Croydon Town Hall. One of the guest-speakers was one of "our Rulers" as Mike Fisher memorably styled them, Steve O'Connell (the Council's Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Crime Reduction).

Being too much of a gentleman (and also being under no illusions of getting a better answer, this time) I did not disturb his rosy picture of things by asking him again about the impact of the Arena on law and order and public safety (given that the police and the other services are already stretched at the best of times).

I say "again" since I did ask him before, when he was doing his rounds of the Borough with Mark Gore. The answer I got then was a classic example of evasion and "never mind the quality, feel the width":
  • Since the Arena is not there (yet) the problems are only potential ones, so don't worry

  • Why worry, anyway? Think rather of the regeneration and excitement that the Arena will bring to your town
No, I do not believe it now any more than I did then!

That people are being paid out of my pocket to deliver such balls is bad enough, but do they actually believe it?

Now that really is frightening. Has no-one in authority thought at all about the adverse impact of the Arena? Or have they decided, blinded by all their "exciting vision" and "rebranding" stuff, that there isn't a problem?

That, to me, is quintessentially poor judgement and a dereliction of their duty to keep us safe.

I like your latest (today's) addition on catarena, by the way. With friends and allies like that, who needs enemies?

Best regards
,"

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Arrowcroft Architect Abhores Arena

It would seem that all is not well between Arrowcroft and their architect.

The architect of the Arrowcroft scheme, Mr Michael Aukett is unhappy with the design of the arena that Arrowcroft and Croydon Council are so keen to impose on the citizens of Croydon.

Mr Aukett stated at the inquiry into Croydon Council's CPO that he did not like the design of the actual arena, nor the positioning of its entrances.

Given that the architect of the arena has taken such a dislike to the plans that Arrowcroft are putting forward; why the hell should the people of Croydon be expected to endorse it, and why are Croydon Council still trying to ram their unwanted and unloved scheme down our throats?

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

The Place of Turmoil

Architectural expert Professor Robert Tavernor has told the inquiry into the CPO that the Arrowcroft development has no architectural merit, and stated that the site would end up as a "place of turmoil."

Quote:

"Far too much is being asked of the scheme and the site for the development to function properly."

Source Croydon Advertiser

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Monday, 8 October 2007

The Elephant in The Room II

On the 13th of September I asked:

"If the Arena is such a good commercially viable project, as Arrowcroft and Croydon Council would have us believe, why is that no one has yet been found to take it on and run it (in the event that it is built)?"

I am pleased to see that the inquiry into the flawed, and misguided, plans of Croydon Council to build and arena on the Gateway site have now been told that Arrowcroft has been unable to sign up an anchor sports team for the arena. This of course knocks a major hole in their financial projections, and their claim that the project is commercially viable.

This is the point that many people have been making for years.

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Monday, 1 October 2007

Well Said!

My compliments to "SV" who makes some very good points against the arena:

"So far at the public inquiry the press have only been in attendance every so often (when they think they will have something juicy to print).

The truth is that the Arena scheme is clearly not as advanced as the council and Arrowcroft make out. An awful lot of work still needs to be done before construction 'could' start.

So even IF Arrowcroft avoid the current plan of network rail to 'close East Croydon Station' at arena chucking out times (peak times)- YES THAT IS TRUE! on health and safety grounds. East Croydon station just can not cope as it is, let alone add 12,500 additional visitors!

So, Arrowcroft may be granted planning permission, but they also need to get the CPO. Two hurdles that they are not doing very well at so far.

Its a long haul inquiry, and it is in effect stopping a major regeneration taking place. Ruskin Square is ready to go, complete with new Warehouse Theatre, Gardens, homes and high quality offices to keep jobs in Croydon.

Croydon council should be ashamed of itself for putting the brakes on Ruskin Square
."

Source Croydon Guardian

Sign the petition against the arena via this link on the Number 10 website: Petition

Monday, 24 September 2007

Saturday, 22 September 2007

News From The Public Inquiry

Sources at the Croydon Public Inquiry into the CPO by Croydon Council, tell me that the Inspector has ordered the marketing hoardings to be ripped down over the weekend!

Interestingly this instruction was issued after I had sent my earlier article about the independence of the inquiry to Persona Associates, who are handling the admin etc for the inquiry.

I also am told that the Arrowcroft architect, after many hours of close questioning, said that he has not yet been paid by Arrowcroft. I assume his fee is based on "success".

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Independence and Ethics

I draw your attention to this comment posted on this site today, re the room in which the CPO inquiry is being held:

"The room is more like a marketing suite for Arrowcroft and the Arena rather than an independent inquiry.

Each wall is covered in images of the Arena and buildings.

How can the inspector be seen to be independent in these circumstances?
"

As an experienced FCA, auditor and forensic investigator I would remind the inquiry that it not just a case of "being independent" but being "seen to be independent".

Failure to observe both of the above ethical principles will irreparably damage the credibility of the inquiry.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Farce

It would appear that, if the reports are to be believed, day one of the public inquiry into the arena development was not a resounding success wrt logistics.

The Croydon Guardian notes:

"Televisual equipment was out of order and dozens of people were left in the foyer of the Jury's Inn hotel straining to hear what was going on.

One resident said: 'This is an absolute travesty - this is supposed to be a public inquiry and we cannot hear a word of what is being said
.'..."

Maybe Croydon Council will begin to realise that they have underestimated the strength of feeling against the arena.

Public Inquiry

The public inquiry into the CPO and related matters wrt the Gateway site and the arena commences today.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Elephant in The Room

Here's a little question, that has been troubling a good number of people in Croydon over the past few years, wrt the Arena.

If the Arena is such a good commercially viable project, as Arrowcroft and Croydon Council would have us believe, why is that no one has yet been found to take it on and run it (in the event that it is built)?

Some may argue that the question is irrelevant, given that a local council and construction company in the UK would never commit to building something that would be a commercial and cultural failure.

I will disregard the obvious comparison to Bliar's Dome, and move on to the little loophole within the agreement between Arrowcroft and Croydon Council.

After the unconditional date (ie if Croydon Council have taken the site by CPO, and given it to Arrowcroft) the potential returns of the newly acquired site will be reviewed.

In the event that the Arena is considered to be no longer commercially viable, in the form that Arrowcroft have "sold it" to Croydon Council, Arrowcroft could turn around and say that they don't think the Arena is viable and not build it.

Don't believe me?

Read it for yourself:

Source www.persona.uk.com/croydongateway/CPO_docs/LBC-Arrowcroft/2-lbc-arrow-6-2.pdf

Para 4.2

"..members will review the potential return to the members and discuss alternatives for realising profit and the future of the LLP and profit allocations should the members decide to progress the Development."

A cynic might argue that Croydon Council have allowed themselves, and the citizens of Croydon, to be placed in a very vulnerable position here; ie the plans for the Arena may well be pulled, and Croydon would be saddled with an unknown "plan B" for goodness knows what.

They have let us down big time.

Like it or not, this elephant of will not leave the room!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Planning Committee Approve Arena

Thursday 6th September saw the Croydon Council Planning Committee unanimously approve the Arena scheme again.

The Planning Committee Councillors were Councillors Mogul, Mansell, Khan, Scott, Winbourne, Gatland, Wright, Osland, Hopley and Clancey.

Councillor Winbourne is a Fairfield Ward Councillor but had no problem voting for it, indeed she is quoted as saying:

"My ward has lots of concerns, however it brings much needed regeneration to the Ward"

Her view is at variance with the citizens of Croydon and indeed certain other councillors who are publicly opposing the Arena.

Addiscombe Councillor, Andrew Price spoke eloquently and summed up the objections from; local Addiscombe councillors, Andrew Pelling MP, Warehouse Theatre, Network Railway. He pleaded with the committee not to endorse this application.

Councillors Mansell, Scott, and Clancy all commented on the welcome addition of the Warehouse Theatre to the plans. However, they fail to recognise that it is still an inadequate proposal that is not capable of delivering the theatre a sustainable future.

Why does the ward councillor back the Arena, when there is clearly so much opposition to the Arena?

Democracy in action!

Friday, 31 August 2007

Council Ignores Citizens of Croydon

Councillor Andrew Price is quoted in today's Croydon Advertiser, on the subject of the council's much derided plans for their unwanted and unloved arena.

Quote:

"We've been overwhelmed by how many people have replied and the strength of feeling there is against the arena. The results show that over many years the people of Croydon have been ignored by the council."

The Advertiser also talks about the survey carried out by Councillor Price and his colleagues, the results of which were featured on this site last Sunday.

I would, at this stage, have liked to have said that the strength of feeling against the arena should come as no surprise to those in the council who are championing it.

However, since the council have never bothered to ask for the views of the citizens of Croydon about the arena (even though they misleadingly claim that they have) it may well come as a "surprise" to them.

That being said the council do visit this site (and www.croydoniscrap.com) regularly, where the arguments for the arena have been soundly demolished over the past few years. Therefore it is "disappointing", and rather surprising, that they have continued to push ahead with this unwanted and unloved development.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Reputations

Tim Pollard wrote back to me re my mail sent yesterday, saying that "all enquiries about the evidence base are being dealt with by Donaldsons on the Council's behalf. I have sent your email on to them and they will respond to you direct."

I sent him the following reply this morning:

"Tim

Thank you for your response, I look forward to reading Donaldsons' reply.

One more query for you and the council, rather than Donaldsons. Regarding Gerald Kaufman's assessment of Arrowcroft in 1999, as referenced on the CATARENA site:

'I shall talk about the conduct of people in Arrowcroft, in North West Water and in other firms. I am sorry to say that their conduct involves lies, concealment, deception, double dealing, proposed blackmail, proposed bribery and attempts to manipulate Members of Parliament.'

Also:

'Arrowcroft is the property partner of United Utilities, an enormous organisation, which owns both North West Water and the North Western electricity board, Norweb. It is therefore curious that Arrowcroft is not a public company and that all its shares are held by very few people.

A list of shareholders shows an Alan Jones and, a little further down, a Catherine Leslie Jones; they live together and have 35,000 shares between them. The list of shareholders also shows a Bankim Chand Gossai and, further down, an Umeshwatie Devi Gossai; they, too, share an address. Then, we have Barbara Priscilla Eppel, who owns 440,000 shares; Leonard Cedric Eppel, who is chairman of the company and owns 600,000 shares; and Stuart Neil Eppel, who owns 330,000 shares; other members of the Eppel family are also shareholders. Nicholas Paul Hai and Rochelle Eleanor Hai own more than 360,000 shares between them.

One short list comprises the names of all the shareholders in the property company of one of the biggest companies in the country--it is a family company, and the relationship between the two companies is baffling, to say the least.

However, it is clear that they are not a very successful family. While the property company registered a profit of £501,472 in 1997, in 1998--these accounts were published last month--it made a loss of £192,531.

On the other hand, the family certainly know how to look after themselves. In 1997, directors' emoluments were £487,204 and, in 1998, they increased to £605,939. The emoluments of the highest-paid director increased in one year from £119,679 to £194,353. The House may agree that certain fishy matters should be investigated.'

Are you and the council comfortable to have your names associated with, and to have entered into an agreement with, a company whose conduct according to Gerald Kaufman involves 'lies, concealment, deception, double dealing, proposed blackmail, proposed bribery and attempts to manipulate Members of Parliament'?

Thanks for your help.

Kind regards

Ken Frost

Croydon Against The Arena
"

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Termination of Agreement

Text of email sent to Councillor Tim Pollard today:

"Tim

Buried within the mountain of documents relating to the proposed arena development, championed by some members of the council and Arrowcroft, is this statement:

'The council and Arrowcroft have the right to terminate the Agreement in certain circumstances.'

Source: Appendices to proof of evidence of Alan Jones (page 8 para 4)

Please can you advise me as to what those circumstances are?

Thank you.

Kind regards

Ken Frost

Croydon Against The Arena

www.catarena.org
"

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Majority Oppose Arena

My thanks to Councillor Maria Garcia who has posted the results of a recent survey about the arena, conducted with the residents of Addiscombe, on this site.

It seems that 70% of the residents of Addiscombe, who responded, oppose the arena. This knocks into a cocked hat Croydon council's oft repeated assertion that they have consulted widely with the citizens of Croydon, about their plans for this unwanted and unloved development.

Kudos to Councillor Garcia and her colleagues who not only listen to the voters, but have the cajones to stand up in the inquiry and publicly oppose the arena.

It is clear that the council's plans for the arena are falling apart.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Objections To Arena

EAST CROYDON GATEWAY SITE

Town & Country Planning Act 1990 – Section 77 Application by Arrowcroft Ltd

Site and Land Adjoining East Croydon Station, George Street, Dingwall Road and Lansdowne Road, Croydon Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/293)


REASONS FOR OBJECTION TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION

SYNOPSIS


  • The development is not sustainable. Worse it will cause considerable harm to neighbouring communities that are sustainable and have been so for many years.


  • There has been no proper consultation or community involvement as prescribed by PPS1. In fact there has been much shrouding in mystery to such an extent that we have had to resort to the Freedom of Information Act twice to gain information from
    the Council.


  • For a large event based development a robust transport plan is needed. The information the applicant has provided relies upon sparse or out-of-date surveys and nowhere mentions improvements to the public transport infrastructure.


  • It is indicated that the Council - to respond to Arena customers parking in residential streets - would likely introduce new parking zone regimes in our areas which are unwanted.


  • We think that a sequential approach should have been applied in selecting the location for the proposed development.


  • Nothing in the applicant’s material leads us to believe that the proposed development is commercially and financially capable of delivering the metropolitan status rebranding and regeneration of Croydon. We have yet to see a business plan for the operation of the Arena.


  • The applicant does not mention off-site law, order and crowd control.


  • We think the latest design for the Arena with apparently 50 or so steps poses a natural danger and appears to contain more oppressive greyness and glass with which Croydon has been architecturally overburdened since the 1960s.


  • The UDP Inspector’s Report said that an Arena on this site was not essential.
Steve Collins
Chairman, Canning & Clyde Road Residents Association

Also on behalf of Park Hill Residents Association, Morland Park Residents Association, H.O.M.E Residents Association and the Croydon Transport Focus Group

Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Warehouse Theatre Statement of Case

The Warehouse Theatre have submitted their statement of case, ie objection to the arena plan, which resolutely destroys Arrowcroft's claims that they wish to help the Warehouse Theatre survive.

Quote:

"Our central objection to the CPO is that the phasing of the Arrowcroft scheme would mean that the Warehouse Theatre would be forced to close for a period of approximately three years, and consequently the business of the Warehouse Theatre would be lost.

Arrowcroft's proposed new Warehouse Theatre is provided as a concession through the draft section 106 agreement dated 11 June 2007, and that drawing PL050 does not form part of Arrowcroft's planning application. Therefore it requires a new planning application to be made for it. Neither do Arrowcroft's proposals provide a new Warehouse Theatre which meets our brief and business plan.

Furthermore Arrowcroft has only offered to make a contribution towards the cost of providing a new theatre and does not therefore ensure the relocation, and in consequence the survival, of the Warehouse Theatre
."

A cynic might consider that the Arrowcroft offer is nothing more than a cynical ploy for media consumption, made in the knowledge that it is in fact a poisoned chalice designed to kill off the Warehouse Theatre. This has already been commented on before (see "Follow The Money").

The complete statement of case by the Warehouse Theatre can be downloaded here Statement of Case.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Albert Dock Not Yet Profitable

One of Arrowcroft's other ventures, the Albert Dock in Liverpool has a long way to go before it will become profitable.

That at least is the view of its new director, Joe Edge.

Albert Dock is owned by Arrowcroft, and shows losses in excess of £1M and debts of £24M in the company accounts.

Given the financial difficulties of another Arrowcroft "prestige project", why are Croydon Council so sure that the Arrowcroft plans for the Gateway are financially viable?

Friday, 3 August 2007

East Croydon Station

Congratulations to East Croydon Station for being awarded the accolade as being the worst station in the country.

Does this achievement not rather stretch the credibility of the claims made by our "respected" council and Arrowcroft, that the station will be able to handle the influx of people coming to the arena?

In a way, I guess that it doesn't really matter; because there will not be an influx of people, as the arena will simply not draw the crowds.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Meeting With Andrew Pelling

My thanks to Andrew Pelling MP for inviting me to tea at the Palace of Westminster yesterday.

Andrew, myself and Lucy Pelling had a very good, open and interesting discussion about the arena, Arrowcroft and Croydon council.

Andrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of Westminster

Andrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of WestminsterAndrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of Westminster Andrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of Westminster
Andrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of WestminsterAndrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of Westminster
Andrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of WestminsterAndrew Pelling MP and Ken Frost on the Terrace of The Palace of Westminster

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Follow The Money

There are some people who, some might say, naively believe that Arrowcroft's intentions towards the Warehouse Theatre are honourable.

I most certainly would not wish to dispute/question Arrowcroft's intentions, or their recent "Road to Damascus" conversion wrt their new offer to include a space for the Warehouse in their plans.

However, a little bit of background wrt the money flows relating to this project may help "clarify" the reality.

Maybe our local media might like to start probing the agreement between "our" council and Arrowcroft a little more closely?

Warehouse - 'generous offer of £3Million'.

Guess who gets the money if the Warehouse cannot put together a robust business plan for a new theatre (following a three or four year decant from the site)?

Yes, that's right, Arrowcroft.

So what incentive does Arrowcroft have to actually make their arrangement with the Warehouse work?

A cynic might argue that the £3M is in fact an incentive to stop it working!

I leave it to you, the citizens of Croydon, to form your own judgement on that.

Stanhope, on the other hand, have to hand their £3M+ over to the council for arts related projects on site.

Here's another question that our local media might care to ponder.

The odd thing in all this is that the Fairfield Halls have not (yet) objected to the Arena.

Why is that?

Is it because the councillors that sit on its board (Cllr Dudley Mead is one of them) have a conflict of interest?

Our councillors of course do not like conflicts of interest, that is why the recent junket offer by Arrowcroft to fly a few of them over to the Hamburg arena was rejected.

Good for them!

Pity that the same offer last year was not rejected by those in the council, who made the trip in 2006, who are now so vociferously promoting the scheme.

Maybe it is time that our local media started to act in the interests of the citizens of Croydon, and investigated what is really going on here?

What do I know?

I'm just a local resident who's opinions, like many others, have been ignored by "our" council!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Arrowcroft's True Feelings About The Warehouse

My thanks to V, who sent me this email.

It very neatly points out the contradiction between Arrowcroft's recent claim that they now want the Warehouse Theatre in their project, and the real viewpoint of Arrowcroft.

The viability of Fairfield Halls also seems to be in dispute as well.

"Dear Ken,

Re Nicholas Hai's 'Warehouse welcomed' (quoted on Catarena Message Board from Marple), you would not think so to read the "put-downs" on both the Warehouse Theatre and Fairfield Halls in Arrowcroft's submission to the Inspector for the public inquiry!

For those without the "benefit" of this document, I quote from it below.

Retail and Leisure

10.50 (Apart from the Vue Cinema and Clocktower) "in-town entertainment and leisure facilities are rather dated, not market facing and lacking in quality.

The Warehouse Theatre is a small arts-based facility which has lost grant support. The Fairfield Halls which was at one time a leading venue attracting major popular acts such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones" [the arena is not big enough to attract the modern equivalent either !] "now suffers from declining audiences, inadequate facilities and too small a capacity for many current touring acts. We understand that Croydon Council is currently considering the future of Fairfield Hall and Peggy Ashcroft Theatre."

Economic Benefit of Arena

2.5.7 "The Warehouse is a small arts based (80 seats due to health and safety restrictions) facility which has lost grant support."

1.2.7 "The Fairfield Halls have also been losing audiences and are not financially sustainable as they stand."

2.5.5 "The published accounts of Fairfield Halls show that it has been highly dependent upon grants of one sort or another for many years." [How many years ago did they have their council grant cut to nil because of council overspending and the need to balance the budget?] "It is in need of essential refurbishment and updating as it lacks air conditioning and many features are outworn.

Attracting an investment partner to fund these improvements would be difficult and it seems unlikely without large scale government funding that Fairfield Halls will be brought up to modern standards in the near future."

I suppose giving the Inspector the impression that Fairfield is on its last legs gives them the excuse for pinching all their parking spaces!

But then again Dudley Mead (Cabinet member for Finance and Major Projects) in a letter to me dated 12 April 2007 said "Please also note that the Fairfield is continuing to make great progress - with rising audiences."

So who's right?

I've been there six times in six months, and five times the seats were all full, or almost full
!"

Friday, 20 July 2007

Arrowcroft's Case Demolished

My compliments to the Canning and Clyde Road Residents' Association who have written and excellent letter demolishing Arrowcroft's case for the arena.

They have given me permission to publish the letter here.

It is a pity that our local media have not probed Arrowcroft's claims very thoroughly, if at all, nor indeed acknowledged that there is widespread opposition to the arena within the borough.

"The Planning Inspectorate
Attention Deborah Tobin
4/04 Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
BRISTOL BS1 6PN

17 July 2007

Dear Ms Tobin

Town & Country Planning Act 1990 – Section 77 Application by Arrowcroft Ltd Site and Land Adjoining East Croydon Station, George Street, Dingwall Road and Lansdowne Road, Croydon Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/293)

We have been informed by Berwin Leighton Poisner that we have an opportunity to comment upon the latest planning material for this important East Croydon Gateway site.

We are sending this objection on behalf of Park Hill Residents Association, Morland Park Residents Association, H.O.M.E. Residents Association and our own Association. This represents over 4,000 households in the vicinity of the proposed development. We are aware of strong opposition to the applicant’s scheme by other residents who do not have the representation of an association.

Our own Association has commented on the original application to the London Borough of Croydon on 7 February 2003 and to the Government Office for London on 10 February 2004. We trust, as we intend to speak at the forthcoming Inquiry, that these
previous objections will be considered by the Inspector.

As you are aware, the potential developer has just released a considerable amount of last minute new information and we would like to further object by adding the following:

1. We believe the current plans are amongst others contrary to the Secretary of State’s Policy in PPG13 and Policies PPS1, PPS3 and PPS6.

2. The plan completely fails to show any improvement to the public transport
infrastructure, only a woolly reference to a new platform at East Croydon Station.

3. The statement of impacts on transport generation and modal travel patterns is severely flawed. For example, the traffic assessment is based on two days, Wednesday 18 July 2006 and Saturday 6 January 2007. There is no evidence that either of these days is representative. It would be expected that traffic would be relatively light on a Wednesday in mid-July because it is in the holiday season and some educational establishments were on holiday.

4. In an endeavour to prove transport capacity, the importance of chronology seems to have been forgotten. It is highly likely that patrons will arrive in a pulse during the hour before an event. This coincides with rush hour for both vehicle and public transport, particularly trains. Most certainly a 17.00 hours to 19.00 hours assessment, possibly of a Friday, is needed for all modes of transport. The patrons’ choice of transport will of course be decided by ease, cost and sociability. Particularly with a mind to returning after an entertainment event, the car seems a preferable choice. There is no price sensitivity analysis to disprove this and encourage more sustainable transport choices.

5. The road infrastructure in and around central Croydon is poor and very fragile. As an example, in a three week period earlier this year, there were three instances when traffic gridlocked due to minor incidences. The gridlocking of course affected bus and tram services.

6. The difficulty in using the Whitgift, Allders or any other car parks on the other side of Wellesley Road is that patrons will have to cross the Wellesley Road either at a busy road junction or through a subway which not everyone views as safe. Arena patrons will likely be competing with patrons of the Fairfield Halls to use their car parks. The temptation to use on street parking in adjacent and neighbouring residential areas is therefore overwhelming. All of our residents associations do not wish to see any changes to existing controlled parking zones. This will damage our community and inhibit activities including attendance at clubs and places of worship. Where will patrons of the 12,000 square feet night club park up?

7. We note that the supermarket has grown to over 110,000 square feet. The original
plan was that people would use this supermarket to do their weekly shop. Given that the total site contains more cycle parking places than car parking (1,477 / 1,186) and given the difficulty of driving into the centre of Croydon, it seems unlikely that people would want to use it for a weekly shop. What will be the purpose of this supermarket that is not already provided for in the centre of Croydon? Cycling in central Croydon is known to be extremely hazardous.

8. The Means of Transport Statement is severely out-of-date. The tram routes have
changed and bus service listings are out-of-date at time of traffic assessment. The
volume and distribution of public transport travel in Greater London has increased
substantially since 2000 so for example updating a seven year old SRA rail travel
survey is not likely to give valid results.

9. Although the applicant presents Croydon as having quick public transport links from all areas, this is not the case for certain places within the potential catchment area, such as Orpington, Bromley, Biggin Hill, Selsdon and Sanderstead amongst others. These people will likely come by car.

10. We think the nature of the development is such that it should be required to
demonstrate that a sequential approach has been applied in selecting the location for
the proposed development. This is dismissed by saying that none were considered.

Why?

The most cursory of investigations would have revealed the potential of the nearby Crystal Palace Arena. It has a seated capacity of 16,500 and can handle up to 45,000 for large concert events. It has Crystal Palace Station adjacent to the main entrance and has three other railway stations within easy walking distance.

The Arena is well served by a variety of bus services from throughout London – the East Croydon Gateway site being just a 25 minute public transport ride away. The Crystal Palace area is highlighted for regeneration. Plans proposed by Croydon Council and TfL include a Croydon Tramlink extension to Crystal Palace.

11. The application should demonstrate regeneration which we take to mean creating a
sustainable community. We believe that the Arena scheme in this location will severely harm existing demonstrable, local, sustainable and diverse communities and not create one in its own right.

12. The application contains a new building for the Warehouse Theatre, but conditional upon the Theatre being able to provide a viable business plan for the future. Since the applicant’s development plans would mean displacement of the Theatre for at least a 3-4 year period then this could prove tricky (and seems fatuous, since the applicant lacks one of their own). We think this ‘last minute’ concession to the Theatre is due to the overwhelming public outrage – local, national and international - at its previous exclusion from the earlier planning application.

13. Nothing in the new material leads us to believe that the proposed development is
commercially and financially capable of delivering the metropolitan status, rebranding and regeneration of Croydon. Since the Arena idea was first mooted, alternative arena venues have opened in London, for example Wembley (12,200 fully seated) that with the 70% increase in tube capacity can easily cope with the patronage. In addition of course we have the O2 and Indigo venues at The Dome.

14. We have yet to see a business plan for the operation of the proposed Arena. A year ago we were told by the applicant that a full capacity (12,500) audience was needed 100 times per year for the Arena to be commercially viable. We note from the latest application material that a capacity crowd has now been redefined to mean either 60% or 70% of the total possible. Apart from having to do so to suit the Transport Plan, surely this raises doubts over the commerciality of the project and raises questions as to why the Arena should be so large in the first place.

15. Is there any reason why Croydon needs yet another night club? Problems with existing clubs have recently led to the Council reviewing its licensing procedure.

16. We could find no mention in the new material of off-site law, order and crowd control nor emergency evacuation arrangements. Who will undertake this? We have been
made very aware of how overstretched the Croydon Police force already is at peak
times.

17. Regarding the quality of design, it appears to be more oppressive greyness and glass with which Croydon has been architecturally overburdened since the 1960s.

18. Although this applicant’s scheme is preferred and promoted by the London Borough of Croydon, at no time has the Council undertaken any proper public consultation to ask the people of Croydon whether this is what they want. In fact we learnt about the
original planning application by chance and were sent details of this latest application apparently because we have formally objected to the Council’s Compulsory Purchase Order to the site. Notification did not come from the London Borough of Croydon but a third party. For a development of this size and with the impact that it is likely to have on Croydon for many years to come, it begs the question why the public’s opinion has not been carefully canvassed and why the Council so willingly granted the original planning application (now the subject of the call-in) apparently without any viability or impact assessment.

We take heart from the UDP Inspector’s Report that said an Arena on this site was not
essential.

We are grateful to the applicant, Arrowcroft, for inviting us to meet to discuss our concerns about their latest development plans. We did this on 12 July 2007 but regret we received no satisfactory answers to the above and other matters raised.

Steve Collins
Chairman, Canning and Clyde Road Residents Association

Also on behalf of Park Hill Residents Association, Morland Park Residents Association,H.O.M.E Residents Association and the former Croydon Society Transport Group
."

Monday, 2 July 2007

The Past Guides The Future

Those of you who feel happy to accept Arrowcroft's assurances about their plans for the arena and the warehouse theatre may care to read what Gerald Kaufman said about them in 1999:

"I shall talk about the conduct of people in Arrowcroft, in North West Water and in other firms. I am sorry to say that their conduct involves lies, concealment, deception, double dealing, proposed blackmail, proposed bribery and attempts to manipulate Members of Parliament."

Why are Croydon Council so keen to work with an organisation, that was in 1999, described by a leading MP in this manner?

Monday, 25 June 2007

Arrowcroft and Croydon Council's Special Relationship

In understand that under the terms of the contract that Arrowcroft signed with Croydon Council, they were obliged to provide Croydon Council with a Viability Assessment Report and Five Year Plan.

Guess what?

Yes, that's right, Croydon Council have waived the need for Arrowcroft to provide such a report.

How very convenient!

To my simple mind, this surely means that the contract between Croydon Council and Arrowcroft is now void.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Arrowcroft's Dead Parrot

Arrowcroft would have people believe that their newly revised plans for the arena, that now include a building for the Warehouse Theatre, show that they are listening to public concerns and that the arena project is alive and well.

The reality is somewhat different.

The Croydon Guardian quote Ted Craig, artistic director and chief executive of the Warehouse, who said that Arrowcroft had not contacted them about the new plans.

Quote:

"The site they have given us is not a prominent location like they have claimed, it is stuck in a corner behind the huge arena.

We have had no consultation at all with Arrowcroft and this is shown in what they have designed. They have given us a 245-seat theatre but have made no provision for dressing rooms or rehearsal rooms.

Our biggest problem is that as far as we know this work will take at the very least three years to build if ever and in that time we will have to be pulled down while the new theatre is being built. That is of course our absolute vital concern.

As it stands at the moment we are in the advanced stages of designing a new Warehouse Theatre with Stanhope and we have had a good deal of involvement in designing a theatre that we are very excited about
."

Does this sound like Arrowcroft have really listened to the citizens of Croydon, or the management of the Warehouse Theatre?

Does this sound like Arrowcroft really care about the views of the people of Croydon?

I think not!

Arrowcroft's last minute PR bid resembles Michael Palin's character's pleas, in the Monty Python "Dead Parrot" sketch.

They are desperately trying to convince everyone that the arena is a living breathing project.

The reality is that it has long since passed away.

Time to put this nonsense out of our misery once and for all, and get on with developing the site.

Arrowcroft Cancel Junket

In the face of public anger, Arrowcroft have cancelled their all expenses paid junket to Hamburg for Croydon councillors.

It seems that some of the councillors who were invited, quite rightly, realised that their voters would not stand for it and so declined the invitations.

Arrowcroft told the Croydon Guardian:

"It's a huge missed opportunity for the councillors that would have really helped them to deal very knowledgeably with the concerns and questions of people in their ward."

Nonsense, the two sites (as can be seen from the satellite photos) are like chalk and cheese; the trip was nothing more than an excuse for Arrowcroft to try to change the minds of those councillors who oppose the unwanted arena development.

I wonder if this site had some role to play in putting a stop to this trip?

Friday, 15 June 2007

Spot The Difference

Here's a little game of "Spot The Difference", for the council and Arrowcroft to play to this weekend.

The first link takes you to a satellite photo of the Hamburg arena, the second link takes you to a satellite photo of the site where Arrowcroft and the council want to build their unwanted arena

-Hamburg Arena

-Croydon arena site

I wonder if anyone from the council or Arrowcroft can spot the differences?

Here's a few clues:
  • In Hamburg there is ample space for cars to park, and for coaches containing performers and their entourages to offload etc.


  • The Hamburg arena is surrounded by forest, and a good way away from residential and commercial areas.


  • The Hamburg arena road routes are designated for specific forms of traffic. The west/east road on the southern side is for taxis only on the left side, and only for buses, and shuttle buses for Stellinger station on the right.
Now we come to the site for the Croydon arena.

Do I really need to point out the differences?

-Located in the middle of an urban sprawl
-Located near to residential and commercial areas
-No dedicated roads
-No space for parking or coaches etc

Seriously, who are the council and Arrowcroft trying to kid when they say the two schemes are comparable?

How stupid do they think we are?

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Moving The Goalposts

Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed some small printed notices stapled to trees on Dingwall Road, near the Gateway site.

These notices are Arrowcroft's method of informing the world that they have moved the goalposts, and have changed their planning application.

Their site does contain the revised planning application, but you have to hunt for it a bit.

-Go to their website www.croydongateway.com

-Then go to "The Development" tab at the top of the page

-Then click on the "Planning Application" tab at the bottom of the page

-Then click on "Download Planning Statement (4.7MB)"

I wonder why they have made no mention of the changes to the planning application on their website?

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Amateurs!

Could someone let Arrowcroft know that the email address on their website doesn't work.

Amateurs!

Where's The Arena?

The Arrowcroft and Croydon Council arena propaganda sheet (Spring 2007), referring to the poorly publicised Whitgift exhibition of the arena model in October 2006, says:

"Sadly a number of newsletters advertising the public exhibition were delayed in the post, arriving too late for people to attend the event. Plans are currently underway to hold a second exhibition in central Croydon. As soon as these are finalised, the dates and location will be publicised."

It is now mid June, yet no sign of an exhibition.

Why is this then?

My sources tell me that the model of the arena was shown to investors and developers etc in May. However, the general public were not permitted to gaze upon it during the recent Expo at Centrale, Whitgift and the Clocktower.

Seemingly the model is being withheld from public gaze, and cross examination, because of the need to prepare for the September public inquiry.

The fact that Arrowcroft and the council have been aware of the public inquiry for sometime now, makes one wonder as to what they have been doing all of this time.

Friday, 1 June 2007

A Council Divided

It would seem that the council is not as fully behind the arena development as they would like to have us believe.

My thanks to Councillor Russell Jackson, who sent me this email today (and has given me permission to post it in full on this site).

It is refreshing to see that there are councillors with the cajones to publicly state their opposition to the arena.

It seems that Arrowcroft have made a tactical error in offering a "freebie" trip to Hamburg. As Councillor Jackson notes, the offer is "highly questionable".

Why does council leader Fisher not seem to be able to grasp that point?

The question is, who else did they ask and have they accepted or refused the offer?

"Mr Frost,

I have been directed to your blog regarding your opposition to the proposed Croydon Gateway Arena.

I wanted to let you know that I was another councillor that was invited by Arrowcroft to go to Hamburg. I will not be responding to Arrowcroft because I am not interested in their offer and more than this I have found their offer highly questionable. That I should need to be shown an arena in another country to understand how one would work in my own area of Croydon and Addiscombe I feel personally is slightly patronising.

I remain very concerned about the arena proposed by Arrowcroft and alongside both Councillors Price and Garcia I have been debating the plans with council officers. I am highly dubious about the plans as they are currently laid out and I will be continuing to raise my concerns during the coming months.

I hope that you find this information useful and if you have any further concerns please do get back in touch.

Kind regards

Councillor Russell Jackson

Councillor Russell Jackson
Addiscombe Ward
c/o Town Hall
Katharine Street
Croydon, CR0 1NX
"

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Councillors Come Out Against The Arena

I am pleased to see that conservative councillor Maria Garcia, yesterday, publicly came out against the arena development (just about ruling it out) on her site:

"I am no fan of the current proposed arena."

It is puzzling that, aside from yesterday's public announcement, she has made no reference to the arena in her site (either in favour, or against it).

I am also pleased to see that councillor Andrew Price has publicly stated that he is a "million miles away from being supportive of the scheme".

I wonder if we will see other councillors disassociate themselves from this unwanted development, as it becomes ever more apparent that Croydon council will lose its CPO bid?

Who Was Invited?

Sent to Croydon Council today:

"Regarding yesterday's report in the Croydon Guardian about councillors being invited to Hamburg by Arrowcroft.

Arrowcroft state:

'We have invited a small number of councillors to the arena in July'.

That implies more than the two who were named in the piece.

-Who else has been invited?
-Who has accepted?
-Who has refused?
-Who remains undecided?

Thank you

Kind regards

Ken Frost
"

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Arrowcroft's Jolly Junket

It seems that Arrowcroft, the council's preferred developer for the Gateway site, has invited two Croydon councillors (Andrew Price and Maria Garcia) to a Rod Stewart concert in Hamburg on July 18; as part of a second all-expenses paid research trip for the Croydon Gateway scheme.

Hands up all those of you who think that this offer is not in any way designed to try to sway the councillors to support the unwanted arena scheme?

Coun Garcia has turned Arrowcroft down. However, Coun Price said he was still considering the offer.

A spokesman for Arrowcroft said:

"We have invited a small number of councillors to the arena in July. The purpose of the trip is to allow the councillors to experience the trip first hand and one can only fully appreciate the design of the type of arena planned for Croydon if they see it themselves.

Arrowcroft will be paying for the trip so there is no cost to the public purse
."

That's all very nice. However, Arrowcroft already paid for members of the council to come over to see Bruce Sprinsteen last October.

The result of that being the rather ambivalent Pollard report on the arena.

(By the way, why have Croydon Council removed the Pollard report from their site?

It was here:

http://www.croydon.gov.uk/council/yourreps/councillors/455712/489709/491907.pdf)

Why do Arrowcroft need more councillors to come over?

Here's a little bit of free advice to the council, based on my experience as an FCA, head of audit and fraud investigator.

When holding a position of responsibility you have not only to be independent and ethical, but you have to be seen to be independent and ethical.

Carry On Regardless

I am pleased to see that Stanhope intend to start work on the Gateway site later this year, thereby sticking a metaphorical two fingers up at the council's compulsory purchase order (CPO).

According to the Croydon Guardian, Stanhope will start work as soon as minor conditions are approved by the council.

Charles Walford from Stanhope Plc said:

"However we have everything we need to start - we own the land, we have finance, we have occupier interest and we have planning permission granted from the council."

Rather amusingly, Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for finance and regeneration whined:

"The council has always tried to have constructive dialogue with both Stanhope and Schroder and Arrowcroft but Stanhope seem determined to hold us back."

Can this be same the same council that doesn't want Stanhpope to build on the land?

Is this not the same council that has signed a contract with rival developer Arrowcroft?

Is this not the same council that is trying to impose a CPO on Stanhope's legitimate ownership of the land?

Is this not the same council (albeit under the guise of a Labour administration) that are referred to in the minutes of the Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions (1 November 2004). Where it was made very clear that the committee believed that the then Labour administration had a conflict of interest?

Quote:

The minutes also note that the then Labour administration made the dispute between themselves and Stanhope personal. Sir Paul Beresford is quoted as saying:

"I just happen to have been given the Croydon Gateway report that you gave to your Labour group. It is quite abusive, it is personally abusive. I find it quite extraordinary...

It is the report that went to the Labour group on 5 February this year and it says:

'These so-called blue-chip developers have acted like irritable children when their toy has been snatched from them, whining and screaming to the press and anyone else who will listen.' Then it goes on to name a number of individuals, including Sir Stuart, but naming him with a rather abusive phrase, which I will not use, and others that have resisted or not agreed with you also get abusive names applied to them?..

Calling one of the individuals, that I have not named, 'Mr Slime' and another one 'Mr Dud'..

You are in a position where, certainly by the paper, you have got some personal difficulties with individuals, you want an Arena on the schemes and really you want Arrowcroft to do the development, so that, in essence, anyone else putting in an application, including the people that own the land, is wasting their time?.."


Therefore how can Councillor Pollard claim that the council have tried to have a "constructive" dialogue with Stanhope?

The council have done their very best to block Stanhope, and to remove them from the site and public consciousness.

Good luck to Stanhope, by commencing work on the site they will all but nullify the absurd CPO and stick a very well deserved two fingers up to the council who have failed the citizens of Croydon.

Let us develop the site now, and build a better brighter future for Croydon (with or without the council).

Monday, 28 May 2007

Infrastructure

The proponents of the arena (the council and Arrowcroft) would have you believe that East Croydon station will be able to cope with the vast hordes of people that are forecast to descend upon Croydon, if the arena is built.

Aside from the highly dubious statistics being bandied around by Arrowcroft and the council, as to how many people will really come to Croydon to visit the arena, there is also the question of the capacity/infrastructure of East Croydon station.

Last Friday evening 4 ticket machines were out of action, resulting in tortuous queues developing for the remaining active machines and the human ticket counters. Needless to say, people ended up missing their trains because of this.

Does the council seriously think that the decaying infrastructure of East Croydon station will cope with the numbers of people that they forecast will come to Croydon, if the arena is built?

The council would have you believe that money will be pumped in to restore the station.

However, has anyone actually seen a written plan and budget with deadlines for such a restoration?

Pie in the sky fantasy, from start to finish!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Residents' Associations Excluded

The other week, Croydon Council proudly held an Expo showing their vision of the future of Croydon.

The Expo at the Whitgift Centre was accompanied by a market research exercise, the results for which will doubtless be used by the council in their ongoing propaganda exercise to try to bulldoze their arena development plans through the opposition from the local residents.

Now here is the funny thing, normally when market research is carried out certain groups, such as journalists or connected parties, are excluded.

So far so good.

However, there was an extra group excluded from the Expo market research survey.

Can you guess who they were?

None other than members of any local residents' associations.

Why would that be?

Seemingly members of local residents' associations are considered to be "better informed" than other members of the public. In fact a cynic might argue that the council knows that the local residents' associations oppose the arena development, and don't want the embarrassment of having their views "muddy" their propaganda exercise.

It would appear that for the purposes of Croydon council's propaganda exercise, the views of the "better informed" are not required or indeed welcome.

Does this not rather skew the results of the survey?

This "cordon sanitaire" around the survey may be a tactical mistake, for market research companies are meant to follow the Market Research Society Code of Practice. The exclusion more than likely violates part of this code, as such a formal complaint may be expected.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Croydon Expo

Next week the Expo comes to town, EXP07 is (to quote the website):

"your chance to experience the amazing things happening in the borough today and in the next 15 years. Croydon Council and our partners in Industry and the community are working together to establish Croydon as London’s 3rd city."

EXP07, according to Councillor Pollard, will be financed entirely by private sponsorship.

Therefore it should not be of any surprise to learn that the EXP07 website is but a one page list of links to property developers et al who are operating, or who wish to operate, in Croydon. Needless to say Arrowcroft, Croydon Council's preferred developer for the Gateway site, is listed.

However, Stanhope Schroders are not listed. This is somewhat surprising given that they have a development scheme for the Gateway site, and actually own a large amount of the land on which the Gateway development will be built.

EXP07 will feature a large 3D model of the future Croydon town centre. The question is, will this model feature the arena (which is currently subject to the public enquiry) and therefore is unlikely to be built?

Anyone care to take a bet on that?

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Date Set For Inquiry

A date has been set for the gateway planning inquiry, which will determine which development will be built on Croydon's Gateway site.

The inquiry whiill start on September 17th 2007.

The inquiry is expected to last six weeks, and a verdict could be announced next summer.

So, thanks to Croydon Council's insistence on pursuing a CPO, we have to live with the dereliction of Dingwall Road for another year.

Thanks for nothing!

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Opposition Grows

My thanks to Valerie Hunter, a Croydon resident, who sent me a document that she wrote which outlines her reasons for opposing the councils plans for building an arena on the Gateway site.

Valerie categorises her objections under a number of headings:

-Lack of consultation
-Clash with Fairfield
-The Warehouse theatre
-Lack of events
-Parking
-Anti social behaviour
-Pollution
-Affordable housing
-Transport

She concludes by saying:

"However, communication with those who will be most affected by this scheme appears to be almost non-existent; one can only assume, to avoid objections.

Clearly, big business and prestige are more important to the Cabinet than the quality of life for Croydon residents
."

The document can be downloaded here: Opposition To The Arena

I recommend that you read it.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Croydon Council's Volte Face

Steve Collins, of the Canning & Clyde Road Residents' Association, dropped me a note the other day about the incoming Tory council's change of mind wrt the arena:

Quote:

"In the run-up to last May's local election we asked the Conservative opposition for their policy on the Gateway site. We received a 'no arena' reply from their Croydon Agent and this was reinforced by (all but one of the 3) the Tory candidates for our Addiscombe Ward.

We were therefore rather gob-smacked that when elected the new leadership picked up the arena scheme with even more vigour than the old!

The excuse was the contract that existed btw LBC and Arrowcroft. We were refused access to this, but used the FOI act to eventually get a copy.

We wrote to Fisher pointing out that because of non-compliance by Arrowcroft to satisfy an important (viability) clause in the contract, it was therefore terminated.

They chose not to terminate, but instead made some addendum that suddenly made it 'satisfactory'
."

Quite a volte face, wouldn't you say?

The question is, why have the council moved the goalposts wrt the viability clause?

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Canning & Clyde Road Residents' Association CPO Objection

My thanks to the Canning and Clyde Road Residents' Association, for allowing me to publish their objection letter to the arena.

"The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Government Office for London
Planning Division
9th Floor
Riverwalk House
157 – 161 Millbank
London
SW1P 4RR
4 February 2007

Dear Secretary of State

THE LONDON BOROUGH OF CROYDON
(LAND WEST OF EAST CROYDON STATION, THE GATEWAY SITE)
COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER 2007
COMPULSORY PURCHASE OF LAND AND NEW RIGHTS IN CROYDON TOWN CENTRE

I am Chairman of a local residents association based within a ten minute walk of the Gateway site. We wish to formally object to the above order. We have no commercial interest in the land but a huge one in terms of its use and social and economic benefit to our local and the wider Croydon community. All of us who live or work in Croydon are surely stakeholders in what happens to this important land.

As you are aware, the Council wishes this Compulsory Purchase Order to facilitate the development of a 12,500 capacity arena on the site by Arrowcroft.

Pursuant to Section 226 the Council may not exercise the power of compulsory purchase unless they can prove that the development, re-development or improvement is likely to contribute to the achievement of any one or more of the following objectives – we maintain that the proposed development fails on every point:

(a) the promotion or improvement of the economic well-being of the area. The 2002 contract between the Council and the proposed developer placed an obligation upon Arrowcroft to provide a Viability Assessment Report supported by a five year Business Plan. We learn from the Leader of the Council that these documents were not provided nor were necessary. Why? We therefore assume it is not viable.

The consequences of such a key central Croydon development failing seem not to have been considered since the Council has undertaken no risk assessment.

THE LONDON BOROUGH OF CROYDON
(LAND WEST OF EAST CROYDON STATION, THE GATEWAY SITE)
COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER 2007
COMPULSORY PURCHASE OF LAND AND NEW RIGHTS IN CROYDON TOWN CENTRE

(b) the promotion or improvement of the social well-being of the area. The Council has not made it clear how the development of the Arena scheme would ensure the social well-being of the area. The public opinion is to the contrary. If anything, there is a danger through under-utilisation that the Arena development would cause a sterile and no go area at this important central Croydon site.

The stressing of the transport system caused by an Arena event would have an adverse effect upon commuters already travelling in crowded conditions; commuters underpin the commercial viability of Croydon.

The Warehouse Theatre currently provides good quality productions that add to the social and cultural well-being of the area. The Arrowcroft scheme would destroy this.

(c) the promotion or improvement of the environmental well-being of the area. Croydon's road system cannot cope with the significant increase in volume of cars and coaches associated with large events resulting in pollution; local residential streets are likely to prove far more attractive for parking than town centre car parks with resultant air and noise pollution. We are right on the local feeder roads which already demonstrate high levels of traffic emission pollution.

The plans so far submitted by Arrowcroft for the Arena scheme show a sterile, concrete development. To the public’s mind this does not constitute an improvement to the environmental well-being of the area. It will just add to the bleakness of the existing surrounding landscape.

Please also note the following objections:

In addition we would like to object on the grounds that the Compulsory Purchase Order is completely unnecessary. The Council already has before it a scheme by the freeholders with planning permission, funding and a schedule to start immediate works. It is a development, including green space and an improved Warehouse Theatre, that is clearly popular with a lot of residents.

THE LONDON BOROUGH OF CROYDON
(LAND WEST OF EAST CROYDON STATION, THE GATEWAY SITE)
COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER 2007
COMPULSORY PURCHASE OF LAND AND NEW RIGHTS IN CROYDON TOWN CENTRE

The UDP Inspector found an Arena to be not necessary for the site. In the Planning Report PDU/UDP08/PIM, Proposed Modifications to Croydon UDP, 3 April 2006 it states,

'The Inspector agreed with the Mayor's view that a requirement for an arena on this site was not justified and recommended two policies for the site, which: allow for both competing schemes; do not insist on the inclusion of an indoor arena, and; stipulate a minimum of 800 dwellings. The Council has proposed a single policy, rather than two separate policies as recommended by the Inspector. The policy expresses a strong preference for an arena based scheme. However, the policy makes clear that other forms of development will be acceptable, provided a similar ability to regenerate, re-brand and change perceptions of Croydon Metropolitan Centre can be demonstrated. This addresses the Mayor's concern that an arena only policy could lead to the continued sterilisation of this key site.'

The UDP was adopted in May 2006.

We would also wish that the Secretary of State be mindful of the lack of any proper consultation that has been undertaken by Croydon Council either before or during its unexplained 'partnership' with the Arena developer. This has been confirmed publicly by the Leader of the Council at a public meeting about Croydon’s future development held on 10 January 2007.

What is Croydon Council doing and why?

With best regards

Steve Collins
Chairman
Canning & Clyde Road Residents Association
"