Croydon council has backed a legal challenge to a Secretary of state’s decision to axe plans to build a skyscraper in Purley.

James Brokenshire, secretary for housing, communities and local government, intervened to reject Thornsett Group’s plan to build 220 homes scaling 17 floors on the ground of Purley Baptist church after Croydon council’s decision to approve the development was ‘called in’ for review in December, triggering a public inquiry.

The developer has submitted an application to the high court for a judicial review of the decision, which could result in it being overturned.

Last week, the Council wrote to the high court in support of the application, arguing that the development complies with local housing requirements despite residents’ concerns about its height.

Councillor Paul Scott, cabinet lead for regeneration and planning, said: "I was shocked when I heard the Secretary of State had overruled his own highly experienced and professional planning inspector and refused planning permission for the redevelopment of Purley Baptist Church.

“Just two days ago at the Building London Summit, he was praising Croydon for going the extra mile to build more homes.

"The principle of a tall landmark building on this site has previously had cross-party support in our borough, with the idea for a 14-storey building first proposed and adopted in 2013.

"This scheme, on a derelict site that has been in a sorry state for decades, proposed 220 homes, 39 of which were to be affordable.

“A church was to be built, along with community facilities for all to use and enjoy.”

Campaigners led by seven local residents’ associations argued the building was “out of character” with the surrounding area throughout the 2018 public inquiry.

Over 11,000 people signed MP Chris Philp’s petition calling for the development to be blocked.

Mr Philp, representative for Croydon south, said: “The site does need developing, and I would be happy to support an appropriate scheme to provide amenities and housing for local people there.

But 17 floor skyscrapers do not fit with Purley – they belong in Croydon town centre and in central London."

Councillor Scott added: “It goes without saying the development would have provided a boost to Purley town centre.

“The local Business Improvement District organisation and the local Residents Association supported it for this reason.

"These proposals were also subject to extensive scrutiny not only during the planning process, but also before the application was formally submitted and, following its approval from both Croydon Council and the GLA, with the decision to call-in by the Secretary of State.

“At every hurdle it passed, most recently with Mr Brokenshire's own planning inspector saying the scheme 'should be approved without delay.”