Croydon councilors were “angry” but claimed they had little choice in approving plans for a block of 21 flats with just three affordable homes.
More than 120 local residents objected to plans to replace a five-bedroom house on Riddlesdown Road, Purley with a five-storey block of 21 flats.
The same application was rejected by the municipality in 2019 and rejected again on appeal in 2021 by the planning inspector because he had not indicated which apartments would be affordable.
The applicant, Mantle Developments, said it would not be viable to offer affordable apartments beyond three – two to rent and one for shared ownership – and the company would lose £60,000.
When the original plans were appealed, the planning inspector said no case could be made for more affordable housing on the basis of a viability assessment.
It was a concern raised by neighbor Graham Roberts at a planning committee meeting last week. He added: “It doesn’t suit Riddlesdown Road and a building of this size is nothing if not obtrusive.”
Neighborhood councilor Endri Llabuti said the plans do not provide enough single-family homes, with only two three-bedroom apartments.
He said: “I urge you to reject this application as it is inconsistent with the area, it is gross overdevelopment and a lack of affordable single family housing and parking facilities. Why would Croydon accept substandard developments?”
With the planning inspector’s information and a recommendation from Croydon Council officials that the application be granted, the councilors said they could not reject the plans.
Councilor Leila Ben-Hassel said that while the draft was “uninspiring”, she would “reluctantly support” the plans. She said she hopes more affordable housing can be secured after the plans are approved.
Cllr Ben-Hassel added: “I’m actually quite angry because I have to approve this tonight, and it just shows how our scheduling system needs a total overhaul.”
Councilor Chris Clark also said he was “angry” adding: “We are in an extremely difficult situation with this particular application.”
The plans include 19 car parking spaces and 40 long-term parking spaces for bicycles.
The new apartments will have access to an outdoor area including a sunken garden, which will be realized on the site of an existing swimming pool.
The planning application read: “The proposal is predominantly traditional in style, but aspects such as brick orientation and color create modern aspects of the design.
“The mass of the proposal is visually softened by the design of an articulated façade on all elevations.”