By Miranda Slade and Jacob Paul
Furious residents are campaigning to stop a developer from demolishing bungalows to build flats on their street after housing chiefs gave the green light despite a restrictive covenant.
Croydon Council rejected more than 50 objections to the plans for Hambridge Homes ltd to build a four storey block of nine flats in place of a bungalow, which was demolished, at 19 Downsview Road, Upper Norwood, Croydon.
Protests began on February 27, after Downsview Road resident Ian Fleming found a covenant from 1927 which bans the building of multiple homes on one dwelling.
Steve Reed MP for Croydon North and Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government is backing the campaign and calling for an investigation into the claims of alleged wrongdoing by Croydon Council’s planning department.
Caroline Fenech, 49, who lives next door to the demolished bungalow with her husband Peter, 54, is lead campaigner and head of campaign group Save Downsview Road said that the development has ‘opened the floodgates to more developers.’
“This is the first time I’ve done a campaign. I’m just a mother that lives in my private home minding my own business but I feel passionate about what’s going on and I feel like I have to make a noise,” she said.
“We have letters on virtually a daily basis from developers offering us package deals, they know once one company gets planning permission, they can all try.
“There’s a group of five bungalows that could be turned into 45 new flats – that would make a huge impact on our road.
“The developers know a lot of the time it’s too much time and money to take them to court but not in this case.
“We’re so passionate about our road that we’re now forced to take them to court and it’s going to cost us £70,000 to £100,000.
“The onus shouldn’t be on us, it shouldn’t be that we have to try and get this money together because it’s just disrupting our lives and a covenant should be protected, it should be our council and the law that protects us.”
As support for the campaign has grown, the road is now lined with bright yellow signs outside houses saying ‘NO! to development at Downsview Road SE18’.
A council spokesperson said: “This development was subject to a full planning application, detailed reports and a committee decision, which included officers considering factors such as design, development policy and public objections before councillors approved the scheme.”
“It is the developer’s responsibility to ensure that they have all relevant non-planning consents, including any to do with restrictive covenants.
“If a member of the public believes a covenant has been breached, this is a civil matter between them and the developer.
“We have received no complaints about the planning service’s conduct around this recent planning application, but we would take seriously any issues raised and respond as appropriate if further action were needed.”
Hambridge Homes Ltd. have not responded to requests for comment.
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