Plans to build on woodland branded “insulting” – South London News

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

“Insulting” plans to build new homes on Croydon woodland have been so unpopular that more than 470 locals have objected.

As well as a three-storey terrace of houses, the plans include a themed visitor center off Hermitage Road in Upper Norwood.

The plans have been put forward by the Congregation of Our Lady of Fidelity, which owns the Virgo Fidelis School site in Central Hill.

The Catholic girl’s school closed in August 2021 after spiraling debts meant the majority of the buildings became unfit for purpose.

The Gothic school building is now home to Catholic private schools The Cedars and The Laurels. The new plans seek to build on woodland owned by the trustees of the school, which faces on to Hermitage Road, behind Priory School.

This privately owned piece of land was part of the Great North Wood which once stretched between the Thames and Croydon.

A planning statement said: “A modern innovative housing development on stilts will minimize the footprint of the development and give a clear view across the full width of the site at ground level.”

As part of the plans, the applicant wants to give part of the woodland to Croydon council with seating installed. It also includes plans for a visitor center with teaching rooms.

Outgoing Crystal Palace councilor Stephen Mann said: “While it will be determined after my time on the council this is an insulting application to both the council and residents.

“No consultation, improper documentation and what is essentially a tourist attraction in the middle of protected woodland.”

“This group has history with taking the mickey, as seen with the recent school closure dumping the debt on the council to then sell the site fortunately the plans are so bad I cannot see any other option beyond an outright refusal without even making it to planning Committee.”

When Virgo Fidelis was closed, the struggling school’s £2.5 million debt was expected to be handed back to Croydon council.

The school was funded by the council. As a voluntary-aided school the Archdiocese of Southwark contributes to running costs and has influence over how the school is run.

The land and buildings are owned by the religious order Our Lady of Fidelity.

The order has been contacted for a comment.

Pictured top: The plans have been put forward by the Congregation of Our Lady of Fidelity, which owns the Virgo Fidelis School.

London Herald