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The Sunday Politics: Is One Lansdowne the future for the suburbs?

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Croydon’s answer to The Shard came under the spotlight in this week’s edition of the Sunday Politics.

The weekly BBC1 programme turned the spotlight on Guildhouse Rosepride’s landmark One Lansdowne scheme, asking about the role high-rise developments have in the capital’s future.

Croydon’s planning department voted unanimously in the autumn to grant planning permission for the groundbreaking scheme, featuring two towers of 68 and 41 storeys, linked by an 11-storey podium structure.

The developers are promising that the scheme, designed by world-renowned architect Piers Gough, will become a remarkable centrepiece for the regeneration of the south London town.

One Lansdowne will be the tallest building in London and will help Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s vision of building the homes Londoners need to tackle the housing shortage.

Reporter Jerry Thomas said: “While One Lansdowne Road’s height will make it unique, it may come to represent a change in the nature of housing across outer London.

 

“To deal with the housing crisis, the Mayor wants people to build higher and more densely.”

Heather Cheesbrough, the borough’s director of planning and strategic transport told the programme. “It will have residential – 794 units – plus over 35,000 sq m of office space, plus retail, a swimming pool and a public viewing gallery as well.”

Ms Cheesbrough also feels the new development will tackle any concerns people have about living in skyscrapers in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

“People rightly so are concerned about fire in tall buildings,” she said.

“The good thing about Lansdowne is it’s a purpose-built residential building, it’s over 30 metres so it will be required to have sprinklers, and of course before it gets anywhere close to construction it will need to have met all the building regulations and be thoroughly assessed by trained building surveyors.”

Sian Berry, chair of the London Assembly housing committee, criticised the 20 per cent affordable homes within the development while accepting there had been an improvement in the rent levels that are being offered.

“It’s gone down from the old definition of affordable at 80 per cent of market rates, to London Living Rent which is a third of local wages – that is genuinely affordable – but I don’t think the Mayor has pushed back enough on this,” said the Green Party member.

“If you think of all of the people living around it in Croydon whose need is proper social rents, council levels of rent, there’s none of this in that tower.”

However, Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones felt the scheme offered an improvement on previous affordable housing levels, citing an average of 13 per cent under previous Mayor Boris Johnson.

“If you look at the context of Croydon – it’s a major transport hub, it’s a major economic area and has been since medieval times when people came and traded from the coast up to London,” said the Labour MP.

“It’s got lots of tall buildings already. It’s got affordable housing at a level which within the London Plan is acceptable.

“They had to prove in the planning meeting that they had looked at what was possible and feasible and what they did, via the Mayor, was to make sure that more of those homes were London Living Rent housing which is a good thing.”

Bob Neill, the Conservative MP for Beckenham, said he “didn’t feel we had a choice” about building more tall buildings and higher density.

“This doesn’t affect my constituency apart from making the skyline from it of Croydon which I think is rather pretty actually.

“It looks like a really great place. It looks, from my constituency, a really great place. I think it’s up to the people that live there – if the people that live there want it that is the crucial thing.”