How green is it really? 'sustainable suburb' in Hackbridge doubted by campaigners
A development heralded by the council as "one of the UK's most sustainable suburbs" may not be as green as it seems, environmentalists have warned.
Sutton Council has given planning permission to a redevelopment of the Felnex site off London Road in Hackbridge.
The project will bring 158 new homes - although this figure could rise to over 700 in the coming years - a supermarket, cafe, new junction and a cycle route to the area.
According to the plans, the development will be heated by the controversial incinerator waste management company Viridor plans to build near the site with back up from an energy centre.
The council said the strategy will help cut the borough's CO2 emissions but green campaigners have labelled the project an "opportunity wasted".
Green Party members are already opposed to the incinerator as they believe it will pump out harmful pollution that could harm its neighbours in Sutton and Croydon.
They have also said the planned supermarket will bring extra traffic to the area while promoting the use of non-environmentally friendly packaging and practices.
Planning permission for the first phase of the project was granted last Wednesday.
It includes 158 homes, 20 per cent of which will meet affordable home standards, a supermarket with space for 206 cars to park and more. Further phases will bring more housing and retail space.
Councillor Richard Clifton, chairman of the council's planning committee, said: "The Felnex development will be one of the most sustainable neighbourhoods in the country.
"The Felnex development is a great example of how Sutton is leading the way when it comes to promoting sustainable living."
The project will be led by developer Savills. Savills' director of planning Nick Rowley added: "We have worked with the council and local people to bring forward a sustainable form of development of which we will all be able to be proud."
But environmental campaigners are less impressed with the plans.
The sustainability of new housing is rated on a one to six scale with 'code six' houses being the most sustainable. The houses planned for Hackbridge are only 'code four'.
The campaigners are also concerned the development is reliant on the planned incinerator due to be built by waste management firm Viridor in nearby Beddington.
The incinerator, or energy recovery facility, will burn rubbish from Sutton, Merton, Croydon and Kingston and convert it into electricity, which will go into the grid, and heat, which is planned to be used for the Felnex development.
However, the incinerator may never get built as it is still subject to a legal challenge and campaigners fear it could cause potentially fatal pollution.
Green Party member Jim Duffy said: "We're getting a sustainable suburb that won't be sustainable.
"It really is a mistake to call it sustainable. There were a lot of people, myself included, who were behind this project at first but the housing stock needs to be of a higher standard and a 4,000sq ft supermarket doesn't really fit in with green principles.
"It will just be a housing estate with a few bells and whistles."
Fellow Green Party member Bob Steele added: "It feels like an opportunity wasted.
"To be fair to the council, you always get these developers who will say 'if we don't get our way we'll pull out' so their hands are tied, but I think this is over hyped.
"It's the same old, same old - a big supermarket, lots of cars and lots of concrete."