Residents living near Selhurst Park have organized to oppose the new 300ft-tall stand – despite being barred from meetings by their Labor advisers
Two residents’ associations in the area around Selhurst Park, along with council tenants whose homes are under threat of demolition, have joined forces to oppose Crystal Palace Football Club’s proposed new £100million stand.
Frozen from meetings by their own elected councillors, residents of Rothesay Road, Farnley Road and Wooderson Close, along with the Holmesdale and Pembroke Road RA Residents Association, held their own meeting last week at which they agreed to show a red card to the Palace Redevelopment.
Leaflets distributed in the area claim that only eight full-time jobs will be created in Croydon by the new stand. “The local community deserves better,” the flyer says.
They also believe the new stand, which emphasizes corporate hospitality boxes, caters to “the shrimp sandwich brigade”, offering little to season ticket holders and regular Eagles fans.
“The design is brilliant to celebrate the arrival on the pitch, but…all the focus is on corporate hospitality, looking away from the pitch and into private homes [and] gardens.
“You fans deserve a better stadium, let’s give this app…a red card!”
Residents criticize the scale and mass of the project. The gargantuan new stand, in an area of two-story houses, will be seven stories high – the original request four years ago claimed the 300ft-tall building would be five stories high.
They also say the stand would cause light pollution and glare issues, and would overlook neighboring properties. At least it would overlook neighboring properties that are not being bulldozed to make way for development.
In an article prepared for residents by a local architect, the demolition of at least five homes in Wooderson Close is compared to homes destroyed in Mariupol, Ukraine by invading Russian forces. Those living in homes nearby Selhurst Park, some of whom have lived in limbo and uncertainty for almost five years, are unconvinced by the club‘s offer to pay for new homes to be built.
“London is in the midst of a housing crisis,” they say.
“The sale of assets and the relocation of long-term residents who have lived in the area for over 30 years not only exacerbates the problem, it is also a betrayal of trust.”
Residents also claim they have been deliberately excluded from the consultation process by their own labor councilors in the South Norwood ward, who they say work closely with the football club’s lobbyists.
The Palace’s new stand, which will add nearly 10,000 seats to the stadium, was first granted planning permission by Croydon Council in 2018. But development has stalled and the club have failed to sign a major agreement pledging to relocate residents of five homes on Wooderson Close which is set to be demolished to make way for the massive new structure.
Palace submitted a revised planning application this summer. It should be presented to the planning committee next month.
But specially hired lobbyists refused to allow affected residents to attend their meetings with councillors. And now councilors have been accused of holding their own ‘secret’ meetings with council directors to discuss plans, without any proper engagement with affected residents.
It is understood that the advisers involved are Louis Carserides and Christopher Herman, who both have day jobs for Labor MPs.
Carserides works in the Westminster office of Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE, who in late 2021 was tasted and dined by Peter Bingle, the founder of the Terrapin Group.
It is the same Terrapin group that was hired as lobbyists by Crystal Palace.
Residents’ letters to councilors about their closed meetings with Terrapin and with council planners went unanswered.
In their leaflets and submissions to the council’s planning department, the Selhurst and South Norwood Residents’ Coalition say: “As neighbors we are sensitive to the needs of the football club”, but they say Palace “have given prioritize the need for growth and profits over their neighbors and…they are prepared to render long-time members of the community homeless and displaced”.
They claim that in 2018 the planning committee concluded that the scale size of the stand is disproportionate to the low-rise housing in the surrounding streets.
“Loose arguments around wider economic benefits and commercial viability for the club are noted, but none of design excellence, which is the usual minimum for a project of this scale.
“The proposed building is far from memorable, daring or iconic. It’s so bland and generic… [it] could be mistaken for an airport, a shopping center or an office building. The only bold element is the massing and scale of the building relative to neighboring local properties.
“As well as potentially diluting the football experience with the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’, the main issue with hospitality and supporting balconies is the issue of views over Clifton Road, Wooderson Close and Holmesdale Road.”
Read more: Residents were prevented from meeting by football club lobbyists
Read more: The consultation on the new Selhurst stand is extended for two weeks
Read more: ‘Abrasive’ lobbyist clears the way for new Selhurst stand
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