A bitterly contested planning enquiry over one of London’s largest development sites came to a close yesterday.
In closing submissions on Monday, Croydon Gateway Limited Partnership (CGLP), a joint venture between developer Stanhope and Schroders, claimed its human rights would be violated if the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, allowed rival developer Arrowcroft to compulsorily purchase nine acres in the south London metropolitan hub.
Arrowcroft, in partnership with Croydon Council, want to build a 12,500-seat arena-led scheme at the site and was at the planning enquiry to ask Ms Blears to grant planning permission for the scheme and to allow a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for CGLP’s land.
But CGLP argued its 1m sq ft office based development, which already has planning consent, was a better choice for the site – and that letting Arrowcroft buy its land was ‘grossly disproportionate in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights’.
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 argued Arrowcroft might not be able to fund it’s scheme, that the designs were inferior to the office scheme, and that the arena was not financially or commercially viable.
But Arrowcroft and the council fought back in their closing submissions – arguing that the public would be best served by the arena which would create ‘a powerful new identity’ for the area.
Arrowcroft argued the arena would change the ‘back offices’ perception of Croydon. He pointed to the opinion of Harvey Goldsmith that the arena would attract the support of major events and young crowds to the area.
Christopher Katkowski QC, for Arrowcroft, said CGLP’s office scheme would struggle to attract major occupiers because it did not ‘rebrand’ Croydon in the same way.
‘It (the Arrowcroft scheme) would offer far more potential to create a powerful new identity for Croydon,’ he told planning inspector Ava Wood. ‘CGLP’s loss is entirely quantifiable and would be paid to them in accordance with the law.’
The decision, which will take several months, is now with the Secretary of State.