Croydon councillors were “angry” but claimed they didn’t have much choice when approving plans for a block of 21 flats with just three affordable homes.

More than 120 locals objected to plans for a five-bedroom house in Riddlesdown Road, Purley, to be replaced with a five-storey block of 21 flats.

The same application was rejected by the council in 2019 and was dismissed again at appeal in 2021 by the planning inspector for not outlining which flats would be affordable.

The applicant, Mantle Developments, said providing any more affordable flats than three – two for rent one for shared ownership – would not be viable and would lose the company £60,000.

When the initial plans went to appeal, the planning inspector said that based on a viability assessment no case could be made for greater provision of affordable housing.

It was a concern raised by neighbour Graham Roberts at a planning committee meeting last week, he added: “It is out of character for Riddlesdown Road and a building of this size is nothing but intrusive.”

Ward councillor Endri Llabuti said the plans don’t provide enough family homes with just two being three-bedroom flats. 

He said: “I urge you to reject this application as it is not in keeping with the area, it is gross over-development and a lack of affordable family houses and parking provisions. Why should Croydon accept sub-par developments?”

With the information from the planning inspector and a recommendation from Croydon Council officers to grant the application, councillors said they were unable to reject the plans.

Councillor Leila Ben-Hassel said although the design was “not inspiring” she would “begrudgingly support” the plans. She said she hopes that more affordable homes could be secured after the plans are approved.

Cllr Ben-Hassel added: “I am actually quite angry with having to approve this, this evening, and it just shows how our planning system does need a total overhaul.”

Councillor Chris Clark also said he was “angry” and added: “We are in a stupendously difficult situation with this particular application.”

The plans include 19 car parking spaces along with 40 long-stay cycle parking spaces.

The new flats will have access to an outdoor space including a sunken garden, which will be built on the site of an existing swimming pool.

The planning application read: “The proposal is predominately traditional in style however, aspects such as the orientation and colour of brick create modern aspects to the design.

“The massing of the proposal has been visually softened by the design of an articulated façade on all elevations.”