Secretary of State James Brokenshire faces a legal challenge from London based property developer over his controversial December 2018 decision to refuse planning permission for a community led housing development in the heart of Purley
The Government is facing a legal challenge today as the London based property development company, Thornsett Group, has announced that it is legally contesting the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire’s decision on the 3rd December 2018 to refuse planning permission for a brand new community development in the heart of Purley. Croydon planning committee had resolved to grant permission to the ‘Mosaic Place’ proposals, and they were subsequently endorsed by the Greater London Authority. The development has wide local business support, including from the Purley Business Improvement District and also garnered high praise from Design South:East, an independent expert design panel. The nearest residents’ association, the Purley and Woodcote RA has also expressed its support for the Mosaic Place development.
Controversially, the Secretary of State has overturned a ‘strong recommendation for approval’ by the independent Planning Inspectorate, following a full public inquiry in January 2018.
The development would provide 181 affordably-priced homes, and 39 affordable homes to be made available through Optivo Housing Association, as well as new home for Purley Baptist Church and its many publicly accessible community facilities. The proposed facilities include a new indoor double-height sports hall, a 450 seat auditorium, flexible classrooms and exhibition spaces, together with a new home for the much loved Purley Cross Information Centre, which is run by the Church. The church also runs a variety of projects to support local people of all ages – including young people who need additional support and care.
Despite the scheme aligning with the Government’s key objectives, especially in relation to housing delivery and town-centre regeneration on brownfield sites, the proposals were refused by the Secretary of State.
The proposals were given a ‘resolution to grant’ by Croydon Planning Committee in December 2016, after which the Greater London Authority also gave its support to the scheme. After being ‘called in’ by the Government in April 2017, as a result of lobbying by the local MP Chris Philp , a public planning inquiry was held by the Department’s appointed Planning Inspector in January 2018.
In his report, the inspector accepted the statement that the development would “be by far and away the highest quality modern development in Purley” and recommended that the scheme “should be approved without delay”. The decision by the Secretary of State to disagree with the Inspector and refuse the plans, which would have brought this brownfield site back into use after having lain derelict for over thirty years, is therefore all the more disappointing.
The decision to refuse the plans has led to the legal challenge, which was submitted to the High Court last week, and lists Croydon Council and the GLA as ‘interested parties’.
Gerard Cunningham, Executive Chairman, Thornsett, said: “Given that proposals for Mosaic Place have received approval from all necessary statutory planning bodies, including most recently the Planning Inspector, we are disappointed that the Secretary of State has decided to reject these plans. The discrepancy between the recommendation of the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State’s decision is a cause of deep concern, particularly given that Purley may now be deprived of 220 new homes, significant community facilities and the catalyst for much needed regeneration.”
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Thornsett is a medium sized development company based in Islington, London who have fostered many unique partnerships with churches, hospitals, housing associations, local authorities, livery companies, charities and private landowners to redevelop their underutilised assets and to bring these back into use to re-shape communities all over London.
Through the sale of private apartments, Thornsett self-funds its community buildings, and has developed a stellar reputation in over three decades of work. At present, the company is constructing 207 residential apartments (including 77 affordable and five church worker apartments), three new churches, one primary school and three new large community facilities across London.
As a company, Thornsett employs 20 people directly, with approximately 300 people employed in our immediate construction and consultant supply chain. www.thornsett.co.uk
Thornsett are extremely disappointed to learn that the Secretary of State, Rt Hon James Brokenshire, yesterday decided to overturn the recommendation of Croydon Council’s planning committee, the Mayor of London and his own planning inspector and reject our proposed development in Purley.
In conjunction with our partners Purley Baptist Church, we have worked tirelessly on the proposals over the past 6 years, investing significant sums of money to bring forward this key town centre regeneration scheme.
Whilst the scheme faced opposition from some local residents’ associations, we remain convinced that the high-quality design of the proposed scheme would make a positive contribution to the character and local economy of Purley. Most importantly it would deliver much needed mixed-tenure housing, with substantially increased facilites for community use, on a site which has lain empty or derelict for over 30 years.
We will consult with our advisors and partners and keep interested parties informed.