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!

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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

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

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.


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.


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."


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

Source Croydon Advertiser

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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

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