Localism in action at Sutton Local Committee

Tuesday night saw the highest public turnout I’ve seen at a Sutton Local Committee since being elected in 2010. This was encouraging, not least because the public is what local committees are all about.

This meeting was advertised on public noticeboards (see below) and with leaflets, which I’d previously suggested. I guessed it was going to be a good evening when I saw Sutton’s resident Peregrine Falcon swoop overhead as I entered the Salvation Army building for the meeting!

The meeting began with a presentation from Roger Hayes of Green Brain – on behalf of CNM Estates – concerning a proposed major development of ‘Sutton Point’, currently a derelict area besides Sutton main railway station. Plans are still at an early stage, and no planning application has been lodged yet, but developers plan to turn it into three buildings featuring restaurants, a hotel, an office block, retail and housing.

I asked how much social and affordable housing they were thinking about, and was told it would be comparable to a previous application in 2006 which was never built. That plan included 256 flats, 63 of which were affordable. Mr Hayes said the new plan would be “something of a similar scale”, and they would be working with a Housing Association to this end.

I also asked about how planners would ‘link’ the pedestrian High Street with the Sutton Point site, which is separated by a large busy road. He said this is something they would consider, and would also look at direct access from the station. Parking would be on site, and there would also be a quality ‘public space’.

It’s all part of a vision to raise the profile and importance of Sutton as a major regional shopping centre to rival Kingston and Wimbledon. With the Zurich / gasworks development to the north of the pedestrianised High Street and Sutton Point to the south, the overall size of the ‘shopping area’ would increase dramatically.

It’s crucially important that such expansion is also sustainable and does not clog up the centre of town, but also in a social sense of ensuring there are enough facilities and school places to cater for many more households. Truly holistic planning is required. But also that Sutton takes this opportunity to develop in an artistic way – not just by incorporating art itself – but that the design of buildings are  innovative and exciting. We don’t want to look like Croydon, after all!

I’ve already written about the Sutton Green toilet block, and will shortly pen something separate on the Zurich / gasworks debate that also took place at the meeting!