Coulsdon ‘shafted’ by Tories as NHS centre site put up for sale

CROYDON IN CRISIS: After an eight-year wait for a new health centre, residents have been shocked to discover the council flogging off the promised site. And now Mayor Perry claims there’s nothing he can do to prevent the sale. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

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For sale: one of the property ads that appeared this week for the old CALAT centre and car park in Coulsdon town centre

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For sale: one of the property ads that appeared this week for the old CALAT centre and car park in Coulsdon town centre

Residents in Coulsdon say that they are “outraged” after discovering that the council’s estate agents have started marketing for sale a site which had been promised for a much-needed NHS medical centre for the town. In an angry letter to their MP, a senior figure at a local residents’ association claims that Coulsdon “has been shafted again”.

The old CALAT centre, on the site of what was once Smitham School, plus the adjacent car park have appeared on the property sales website this week for combined price of £1.8million, with a deadline for offers of February 27.

Yet as recently as Tuesday this week, Tory councillor Mario Creatura had told a meeting of a Coulsdon residents’ association that the sites would not be sold as part of the cash-strapped council’s sale of assets.

But after seeing the “for sale” ads, Maureen Levy, the secretary of the East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, has written to Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, demanding, “You must address this outrage.

“You – and the Conservatives – will never be forgiven if the promised health centre does not materialise, as with other promised developments in Coulsdon…”.

While acknowledging that the council’s finances were crashed by the previous Labour administration, Levy’s letter continues, “Putting the site up for sale is under the Conservatives. At least the previous administration held out the hope that there would be a health centre.”

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Council promise: an official report last year maintained the position that Croydon would keep the NHS as ‘preferred partners’ for the Coulsdon site

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Council promise: an official report last year maintained the position that Croydon would keep the NHS as ‘preferred partners’ for the Coulsdon site

Providing the CALAT site and car park on Malcolm Road for the NHS to develop into a health centre in the centre of Coulsdon was part of a complicated property deal arranged by Croydon Council for Brick by Brick, the failed housing developer, which also involved the Coulsdon Community Centre on Barrie Close and the public car park on Lion Green Lane. Planning discussions have been going on since 2016.

The Lion Green Lane site has been developed into five blocks of flats which have been standing vacant for two years, with Coulsdon locals increasingly suspicious about the reasons for the council’s delays in selling off the properties.

And while the CALAT building has been adapted to serve as a dialysis centre, it is 18 months now since the NHS’s developer “paused” the process of acquiring the site and car park from the council for the long-promised health centre. The NHS, in the form of Matthew Kershaw, the chief executive of the Croydon health trust, have always maintained that a Coulsdon centre was necessary and remained in their plans.

A report prepared by council officials last year referred to the NHS as “preferred partners” for the Coulsdon site and for a health centre in New Addington, saying that the sites would “only be offered to the wider market once [the NHS] have confirmed that they no longer want to acquire the sites for new healthcare provisions”.

Then, this week, Coulsdon residents spotted the sales ads, with the council’s estate agents, Stiles Harold Williams, handling the transaction.

“As far as Coulsdon residents knew, the NHS, in the form of Matthew Kershaw, the chief executive of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, still very much wanted the new medical centre to go ahead,” one resident told Inside Croydon.

“We thought the NHS were trying to sort out funding, with the help of Chris Philp. We know these things move at snail’s pace. It would have been nice to have had the courtesy of an update before the properties appeared on the open market.”

In her letter, ECRA’s Levy put things stronger than that.

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Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber: Croydon Tories Perry and Philp have done little or nothing to condemn widespread vandalism

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‘Shafted’: Croydon Tories Jason Perry and Chris Philp had promised a health centre for Coulsdon

“We have been warning since Brick by Brick got Coulsdon properties… that Coulsdon residents will be shafted again and again.”

Levy claims that Croydon’s part-time Mayor, Jason Perry, has said that the properties were put up for sale by the council’s estates department.

“Why does he not use his executive powers on which he was elected… [and] say ‘take it off’, ‘not for sale’, as the site is designated as a much-needed health centre for Coulsdon and all the many, many additional residents who have swollen the population of Coulsdon from the very many developments that have been allowed?”

According to Levy, MP Philp had intervened with government ministerial colleagues to try to speed up the acquisition and development in Coulsdon. “The council and NHS have made us wait eight years or more for the promised health centre. Surely they should wait for the NHS to come up with the goods? New Addington have their funding. Why not Coulsdon?”

Amid the dismay, one Coulsdon resident told iC: “At least Mayor Perry is delivering on his promise that things are going to get worse.”

Read more: Long-planned Coulsdon medical centre in ‘critical condition’
Read more: Brick by Brick abandons its planning consents and 23 sites
Read more: ‘Disgrace’ as £110m of Brick by Brick homes stand empty


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