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

As well as a three-storey terrace of houses, the plans include a “themed visitor centre” off Hermitage Road in Upper Norwoood.

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 spiralling debts meant 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 onto 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 reads: “A modern innovative housing development on stilts will minimise 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 centre with teaching rooms.

Outgoing Crystal Palace councillor 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 the 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 was contacted for further comment.