Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What exactly has changed since the promise last year to reopen the existing pool, with the use of some £3m of infrastructure levy? How much is now estimated to be needed to reopen the existing centre and what was not identified at the time?

The swimming pool is in an advanced state of disrepair, and it would not be sustainable to refurbish it. A previous survey carried out in 2019 estimated that the repairs would cost more than £3m, however, since the pool was closed the condition has further deteriorated, including the structural integrity of the pool lining. It is therefore likely that the investment required would be much greater than the previous £3m estimate. The former leisure centre was also expensive to run and was losing substantial amounts of money each year. To make it viable again it would need vast improvements to create a modern leisure centre with fitness studios and contemporary gym. This isn’t possible in the existing building due to its size and build.

2. How will Croydon Council hold the developers to account for delivery of the new site to time and within budget?

Polaska has owned the long leasehold on the site since 2004 and is committed to delivering a comprehensive redevelopment of the site.

The programme has been shared with Croydon Council and both Polaska and Croydon Council will be entering into a Heads of Terms agreement, alongside other legal agreements to protect the Council’s position as a freeholder.

There is a development agreement held between Polaska and Croydon Council, which will allow the Council to scrutinise Polaska’s financial capacity to deliver the scheme. On top of this, the Council will independently determine the scheme’s viability, as part of its due diligence and to ensure that the development programme is achievable.

3. What safeguards are there that the developers will not change the plans later to exclude (or reduce) the proposal for a 25m. 6 lane pool?

Legal agreements will be put in place to prevent this from happening. The Heads of Terms is due to be reviewed by the Cabinet this year which will set out key parameters that both parties will act within.

4. Could CIL money still be used to provide more community facilities in the centre of Purley given the number of new flats being built?

The development will contribute towards the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and the Council will decide where this money will be spent to support local infrastructure.

5. Will the Purley Pool team be responding, and publish their response to all of the comments and questions raised by Members of the Planning Committee at the Planning Pre-App meeting on 3 August 2023?

The meeting was broadcasted live, and the recording is still available on the Council’s website where you can see all questions and answers during this session. 

6. How many spaces are currently on site and how many are being proposed?

The multi-storey car park contains 424 spaces, of which 12 are disabled spaces. The car park has a total of eight levels, with the first two being dedicated to short-stay parking with a maximum stay of 2 hours, and the remaining six floors are dedicated to long-stay parking. 

Our parking surveys indicate that there are 327 car parking spaces available in other town centre locations, and during peak weekday hours, 37.4% of parking spaces were occupied in the multi-storey car park.  

We are proposing 50 public parking spaces to be provided for public use, with an additional 28 for the integrated retirement accommodation. 

The project team has endeavoured to strike the right balance between continuing to support the high street and the need for public parking, whilst being mindful of planning policy set by the Greater London Authority, which would otherwise drive the overall parking provision to much lower levels. 

Whilst the specific timings for car park use have not been finalised at this stage, it has been proposed that the car parking spaces designated for use by the leisure centre will be short stay. 

7. Why can’t you provide more parking?

The Greater London Authority considers a scheme with a PTAL rating of 5 as necessitating no parking facilities. We do not believe this would be appropriate and have endeavoured to strike a balance between adhering to GLA policy and the practicalities on the ground. Our aim is to offer a reasonable level of parking that the community can utilise, whilst responding to the demands of the GLA, who have the power to refuse the scheme if it does not align with their policy.

We have also looked at whether it would be possible to provide more spaces by digging a further level of underground car parking. However, to do so would mean that the delivery of the leisure centre would be delayed by approximately nine months and that construction costs would increase by £7.25 million. This would make the scheme unviable, meaning we would be unable to deliver the leisure centre without additional funding from elsewhere. This option has therefore been discounted.

8. Will cycle parking be included?

Cycle parking for residents will be provided within a dedicated secure storage room within the building. The cycle parking has been designed with regard to London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS).

Visitor cycle parking will be provided in the form of Sheffield stands within the public square.

All cycle parking provision meets the requirements of the London Plan (2021).

9. How tall will the development be?

In response to public feedback, the team has explored how the buildings can be designed more sensitively whilst being mindful of the site’s constraints and the need to ensure the project’s viability. The buildings (A, B, C, and D) sit at five, eight, nine, and 12 storeys respectively. We must ensure that the development compliments the existing townscape, however, it is worth noting that the scheme needs to deliver a sufficient number of units to ensure that the delivery of the scheme as a whole, including the leisure centre, is viable.

10. What kinds of homes are you providing and who are they for?

A variety of new homes will be provided which cater for the specific needs of elderly people. The Specialist Older Persons Housing (SOPH) on this site will be unlike traditional models. It offers different types of accommodation from homes where complete independence can be retained to homes with additional support or homes which cater for more serious short or long-term health problems. It will be managed by a specific operator.

This flexible model allows residents to move between the different areas of support depending on their changing needs and circumstances. This specifically includes:

Independent Living units (56%)

Assisted Living units (26%)

Full time care suites (18%)

The units will be self-contained and specifically designed for those over 65s. Occupancy will be restricted to those over 65.

11. Why does it have to be homes for older people, why not first-time buyers?

There is an unmet need for this type of accommodation in the Borough. The population is expected to age significantly between now and 2036, yet we do not have a housing market that responds well to these needs. The downsides of this, is people being in homes that are unsuitable and inflexible to changing health needs. For instance, bed blocking in the NHS is in part caused by people who are well enough to leave hospital, but not well enough to live independently having nowhere to go.

The number of homes we would have to deliver on site would also be greatly increased to around 360 if it were going to enable us to build a new leisure centre. It would not be possible to deliver that number of homes whilst keeping design and density considerate of surroundings.

12. Why is a high-rise block of flats suitable for elderly people?

The primary purpose of this development is for people to be healthier, fitter, and more active, including encouraging residents of the later living accommodation to explore the facilities that the site offers.

The Croydon Strategic Housing Market Assessment Update (2019) highlighted the projected shortfall of housing with care and of care bed spaces by 2036. The Applicant is meeting a clear need identified in the Croydon Local Plan.

All of the blocks will include more than one accessible lift, and dual stair cores are proposed throughout the development.

On top of this, all buildings will meet the building safety regulations, which will include regulations around fire safety.

13. How has this deal between the Council and Polaska come about?

By fully redeveloping the site, the delivery of a vital community facility, a new leisure centre for Purley, can be realised. The previous leisure centre was not financially viable and was operating at an annual revenue loss. The new centre has improved facilities, will be more energy efficient and more sustainable, in comparison to the previous development.

The Council will remain the freeholder of the site and the sublease of the leisure centre will be granted back to the council once the leisure centre nears the end of the construction phase. The structure of the heads of terms will be summarised when the item goes to Cabinet.

14. What will be the impact on local businesses?

The reprovision of a new leisure centre along with c.245 high quality later living units will help encourage footfall to Purley Town Centre. Our proposal also includes a new public square, animated public realm, and a new pedestrian link between the railway station and the high street, giving ease of access to residents and visitors. We anticipate this development, and these measures will increase footfall, therefore being of benefit to local businesses, especially with the existing short term parking spaces at Tesco’s.

15. Is there enough demand for a leisure centre?

Based on the local campaigns, feedback and resident engagement, there is a strong desire for the return of a pool in the local area. This proposal would include a 25m main pool with 6 lanes, training pool, 80 station gym, soft play area and café, all of which has been welcomed by those who have engaged with us during our consultation.

As well as this, local schools will be able to access the pool and there will be dedicated coach parking for pick up and drop off accompanying facilities.

16. Will there be any healthcare provision alongside this development?

The Applicant is working with the NHS Southwest London Integrated Care Board and the adult health and social care team at Croydon Council. Whilst there will not be a GP surgery provided as part of this application, care and respite facilities will be included on-site to ensure that the burden on local healthcare infrastructure is reduced.

17. How does this proposal relate to other nearby planning applications?

There are two live planning applications at the site at 26-52 Whytecliffe Road, which have not been approved by the council. The applicant has requested that they be given time to engage stakeholders on the applications before a decision is made.

The cumulative impact of the potential loss of car parking at both the Network Rail car park and the multi-storey car parks will be assessed before a decision is made. This includes an assessment of the impacts that any reduction in short-stay parking would have on the viability and vitality of Purley Town Centre. Development proposals in this area will also have to engage with the council’s highways department as part of their construction logistics arrangements.

The planning context for both of these schemes is complex. Please also note that the Purley Station Car Park scheme is being brought forward in close consultation with Network Rail, and we understand that one of the reasons this is being held up is that TfL and the GLA disagree with the level of parking being provided. Both organisations feel that the level of parking proposed is too high and does not align with the aspirations of the London Plan.

18. What will happen to all the mobile phone masts for the main network phone companies, that are currently located on the roof of the multi storey car park?

There will be discussions with the telecommunications companies to agree the removal of the masts from the site to enable the construction of the swimming pool. The masts will need to be relocated elsewhere, but the council will ensure that a suitable location is identified and minimum disruption is caused to mobile phone users in Purley.

A sub-lease will be agreed with Croydon Council to allow it to reinstate a mobile phone mast on the completed building. There will be a period when the facility will have to be provided off-site, but coverage should continue throughout.