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East Croydon office block could become 112 new homes

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A CROYDON businessman is looking to embark on a third venture to turn empty office blocks in Croydon into homes.

Dr Anwar Ansari, managing director of AA Homes and Housing, has put in a permitted development application to Croydon Council, stating his plans to convert the empty eight-storey Exchange Court office block in Bedford Park into 112 flats.

The move comes on top of two other schemes he already has in the pipeline, to provide 100 homes in two empty office buildings at 12-14 and 5 Sydenham Road.

Dr Ansari said he owned the two buildings and was presently in the process of finalising the purchase of Exchange Court.

He said the plans for Exchange Court were at a very early stage but he was looking to provide one-bedroom apartments.

Dr Ansari said he was aware of the recent debate at Croydon Council at which members unanimously opposed the Government legislation which allowed empty offices to be turned into homes without planning permission.

Councillors expressed concerns they had no control over the size of homes provided nor on whether the developments contained affordable houses.

They were also worried losing offices in the town centre could have a negative effect on jobs.

But Dr Ansari said while ideally he would like to see the blocks demolished to make way for new housing developments with larger homes, the banks were not interested in financing that kind of operation.

He said: "We are bringing homes into buildings which have not been leasable for many years.

"There is a shortage of housing in Croydon and providing some homes is better than providing none."

Dr Ansari added that AA Homes and Housing would be concentrating on providing homes for rent in Exchange Court and he might be looking at some of them being used for social rental.

That decision, he said, would be dictated by market conditions at the time.

East Croydon office block could become 112 new homes


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