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
-Anti social behaviour
-Affordable housing

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:


"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
4 February 2007

Dear Secretary of State


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.


(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 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
Canning & Clyde Road Residents Association

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Andrew Pelling MP Opposes The Arena

My thanks to Andrew Pelling MP for forwarding his letter to Ruth Kelly, in which he outlines his opposition to Croydon Council's CPO on the land adjacent to East Croydon station.

Text of letter:

"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

Ref: apls0004353CPO

12 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 writing on behalf of my constituents to object to the above CPO.

I would ask that the CPO is not confirmed by the Secretary of State so that my constituents may benefit from the immediate development of the site. The earlier development of the site should provide housing, including affordable housing, and office development which will assist in the rejuvenation of the local office market.

I consider that a possible two year delay, whilst the CPO is contested, will damage the interests of my constituents and those of the town. This delay will also deter potential investors from investing in Croydon.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Pelling GLAM MP

Monday 23 April 2007

Canning & Clyde Road Residents' Association Oppose The Arena

My thanks to the Canning and Clyde Road Residents' Association, who sent me their newsletter today.

Page 3 shows that they oppose Croydon Council's plans for an arena.

Warehouse Theatre Opposes CPO

The Warehouse Theatre opposes Croydon Council's compulsory purchase order on the land adjacent to East Croydon station.

The Board of Management of the Warehouse Theatre Company, in February 2004, said:

"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 have enough seats to continue for much longer to be commercially viable.

We welcome the offer by Stanhope/Schroder for a £3m replacement theatre in their proposals. This has not been offered by the other potential developer, Arrowcroft. We believe that the provision of a theatre adds enormous value and diversity to any 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, providing entertainment & education for the benefit of the Croydon community.

Accordingly, the company will seek meetings with officers and members of Croydon Council, the Mayor of London, developers, government ministers etc. to negotiate the replacement of our building in the development

Friday 20 April 2007

Croydon Council's Statement of Case

I received a copy of Croydon Council's Statement of Case yesterday, which summarises the council's case for their compulsory purchase order (CPO) of the land adjacent to East Croydon Station.

They will be putting forward their case, as outlined in this document, at the forthcoming public inquiry into the CPO.

The document highlights one rather significant matter. There were 14 statutory objectors and 13 non-statutory objectors.

Aside from the fact that there are 14 statutory objectors, the fact that 13 non-statutory objectors took the time to formally object is of significance:
  • Many people that I have spoken to do not know anything about the proposed schemes.

  • Most people have no idea about the process of raising an objection.

  • Most people simply would not bother, or have the time, to raise a formal objection.

  • At least one of the non-statutory objections is on behalf of a group of people, not an individual.
Croydon Council are going to have quite a task on their hands, if they think that they can bulldoze their CPO through.

Friday 13 April 2007

The CPO Objection Letter

Here is the text of the letter that I sent 3rd February to Ruth Kelly, laying out my objections to the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of the Gateway site:

"Dear Ms Kelly,

Subject Compulsory Purchase of the Gateway Site Croydon Served 16 January 2007

I wish to formally object to Croydon Council’s proposed Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of the Gateway development near East Croydon Station.

Please note that I am a long term resident of Croydon, and have no commercial interest or links with the proposed development or rival developers.

I have for the last three years been running which highlights the ongoing decay and squalor that is eroding the heart of Croydon, in the hope of shaming those responsible to address the problem.

Dingwall Road in Croydon is without a doubt one of the most shameful areas within Croydon’s town centre. It is one of the main thoroughfares leading to East Croydon station and is used by commuters, visitors and residents on their way to and from the station.

However, instead of being a thriving and bustling thoroughfare of commerce, industry and residential properties; its “piss poor” derelict appearance has more similarity to the devastation following a nuclear attack, rather than the main thoroughfare of what is meant to be one of London's more prestigious outer boroughs.

There have been plans for the redevelopment of this site (known as the Gateway) for many years now. Unfortunately the two competing developers (Arrowcroft and Stanhope Schroders) have two rival plans. Arrowcroft want to include in their development an arena, this is the plan currently favoured by both the previous Labour council and the new Tory administration. Stanhope Schroders do not have plans for an arena, but do actually own a large part of the land on which the Gateway project would be constructed.

As such there is now a protracted legal battle (see Legal Battle) between the council and Arrowcroft on one side, and Stanhope Schroders on the other.

Needless to say the long suffering residents of Croydon, who have to endure the squalor and danger of walking down this scrofulous tumour on Croydon’s backside, have to wait whilst the legal teams fight it out.

In October 2006 Croydon Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Regeneration, Tim Pollard, published a Cabinet Member’s Bulletin, which summarised a visit that he made to Hamburg to see an arena exactly the same as that proposed by Arrowcroft for the Gateway Site.

On the face of it the report shows that Pollard is enthusiastic about the arena. However, read the report closely and you will see that all is not well:

· The arena in Hamburg is not in the city centre, as such the large influx of people who attend sporting events and pop concerts do not disrupt the daily lives of the residents or commercial activities of Hamburg. Croydon’s arena would cause disruption.

· The Hamburg arena, as per Pollard, has an “uninspiring exterior”, ie it is ugly. He notes that it would have to look a lot better, if it were to be placed in a city centre such as Croydon.

· Most of the visitors to the Hamburg arena come by car. Yet those coming to the Croydon arena would be expected to endure the misery of public transport, thus displacing and inconveniencing those who currently live, commute and shop in Croydon.

· In another part of Pollard's report he notes:

“It has long been recognised that East Croydon Station needs to be redeveloped as it is reaching capacity at peak times. This is likely to be exacerbated by the new developments which are about to start in the town centre. Network Rail expects to release a development brief shortly and is keen to work jointly with Croydon Council to procure a development partner.”

In other words, East Croydon station will not be able to cope with the increase in numbers brought about by the arena. To trust Network Rail and the council to find an, as yet, undiscovered solution to this problem is taking far too great a leap of faith.

· The location of the Hamburg arena (outside the city and away from bars), and the fact that visitors come by car meant that those using the facilities were sober and well behaved. Given the fact that there are a large number of bars and clubs in Croydon, and the fact that visitors would not be driving it is reasonable to assume that those coming to the Croydon arena would be considerably less well behaved.

I detect, from the tone of the report, a sense of doubt about the project creeping into Pollard's mind. There are too many “ifs” for my liking.

I would note that Croydon Council own none of the land, but the previous administration signed with Arrowcroft and committed to the scheme some years ago. Councillor Pollard notes that the Council have a legally binding contract with Arrowcroft (source


This more than lilkely means that if the deal with Arrowcroft fails, there may be penalties imposed on Croydon. I note the following:

· Croydon is effectively bankrupt

· Croydon cannot afford the penalties, if they arise

· The current administration quite clearly do not like the arena project. However, the decision to go ahead is most likely being based on the fear of penalties rather than the benefits (of which there are none) of having an arena.

Clearly the decision to impose a CPO is flawed, and has been taken for the wrong reasons.

William Hill, Head of Property at Schroders said:

“I do not know whether to laugh or cry. This must be a first. A CPO brought by a Council to stop the immediate regeneration of derelict land by a willing, able and fully funded developer with construction scheduled to start in a matter of weeks.”

David Camp, chief executive of Stanhope, said:

“As baffling as this all may seem, the benefit of the CPO starting is at long last the Arrowcroft arena proposals will be subject to some impartial and proper scrutiny.”

“Over five years on from the submission of the arena scheme for planning we still do not know who the arena operator is, where the funding for the scheme is coming from and the basis of the viability assessment carried out.”

I would also remind you that the Secretary of State granted permission to Stanhope and Schroders’s scheme in the high court. I draw your attention to 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.

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?..”



It is clear that the then Labour administration had no intention of viewing any other scheme impartially. Therefore the scheme, and related CPO, is flawed and should be blocked.

My recommendations are as follows:

· The residents of Croydon do not want or need an arena. Therefore the arena should be ditched.

· The residents of Croydon want Dingwall Road to be developed as speedily and as decently as possible. Go for the plan that can be started as quickly as possible.

· The council must stop wasting time on legal battles with Stanhope Schroder, simply because their development does not have an arena.

Get the site redeveloped now!

Abandon the CPO and the flawed Arrowcroft proposal.

We, the residents of Croydon, are fed up with the ongoing delays and empty promises of the council.

I would also note that Andrew Pelling MP (Croydon Central) has written to me, with his support.

To read Councillor Pollard’s report visit this link:


Take a virtual walk down Dingwall Road via this link:

Dingwall Road

Please feel free to contact me if you need further details.

Yours sincerely,


Wednesday 11 April 2007

The Gateway Saga

Here is a link to a collection of articles published on that summarise the key events since 2004, that have brought us to where we are today: The Gateway Saga.

Monday 9 April 2007

Croydon Against The Arena

Croydon Against The Arena ( is a site dedicated to opposing Croydon Council's plans to build an arena on land adjacent to East Croydon station.

This site has been created to provide a news source and public forum for the citizens of Croydon who are opposed to the plans of Croydon Council and Arrowcroft to compulsory purchase the land adjacent to East Croydon station, in order to construct an arena.