CONTROVERSIAL proposals to replace the council's former Taberner House headquarters with a new 420-home development, including a 32-storey tower, have been approved by the slimmest of majorities.
Members of the council's strategic planning committee voted six-five last Thursday in favour of the scheme from the Croydon Council Urban Regeneration Vehicle (CCURV).
CCURV is a partnership between the council and John Laing to promote the regeneration of various sites across the borough.
It has been behind the development of the council's new Bernard Weatherill House headquarters in Mint Walk and the Waddon Leisure Centre, on Purley Way.
Councillor Jason Perry, the council's cabinet member for planning, regeneration and transport, said he believed the new development would benefit the area.
But opponents say the site is being overdeveloped and have complained about what they see as a loss of part of the Queen's Gardens.
And despite a six-metre reduction in the height of the main tower, English Heritage says 114 metre building will still dominate the area.
The development comprises five housing blocks; one of six storeys, two of nine, one of 13, plus the 32-storey tower. Taberner House, which is in the process of being demolished, stood 19 storeys high.
The new homes range from 18 studio flats to 41 three-bedroom apartments.
The bulk of the development, 361, will be two-bedroom flats.
The project will extend into the existing Queen's Gardens but the developers say this will be compensated by a new garden area and a cafe located within the area of the housing blocks.
Councillor Paul Scott, Labour's opposition planning spokesman, said the council's original masterplan for the area suggested tall buildings should be limited to 20 storeys in height.
Cllr Scott said: "For the council itself to then put in an application for a 32-storey building is just perverse.
"Greed has taken over, they just want to make as much money as possible."
He attacked the fact the development contains only "the barest minimum" of 15 per cent affordable housing.
Cllr Scott also claimed the new open space would be looked at as a private space for residents, rather than for the general public.
He added: "If we win this month's elections we will look closely at the contract to see if changes can be made to tower's height and provide more affordable housing."
Councillor Perry said both the size of the main tower and the proportion of the affordable housing had been dictated by the viability of the development.
He said: "It is better to develop something rather than go for 30 or 40 per cent affordable housing and get nothing done whatsoever."
Cllr Perry added the new gardens would provide a green space via the existing gardens through to the flyover, offering public access which did not exist now.
He said: "Compared with the monolith of Taberner House, we will have a development which I think will enhance the area."