Influx of students poised to aid regeneration of South Norwood

Queen’s Arm Pub Pic: Erin Cavoto

A new student housing building is hoped to contribute to the regeneration of Portland Road in South Norwood, replacing a “derelict” pub that has sat vacant for over a decade. 

Last week, Croydon Council unanimously approved the proposal for a three and four storey student housing building, including 59 units and a commercial space on the ground floor.  

The lot on the corner of Portland Road and Doyle Road in South Norwood has been abandoned for 12 years despite rejected plans to develop the space. The former Queens Arms pub sits in the lot with shattered windows, an overgrown surrounding and tiles missing from a dilapidated roof. 

South Norwood has been at the centre of a regeneration push by the community, plans which include a new library, an art installation at Portland Road railway bridge and a “community hub.”

At the planning meeting, Councillor Paul Scott said: “I think this scheme is going to be incredibly important for the regeneration of Portland Road. This site has sat sadly empty and degenerating fast for many years.” 

Councillor Felicity Flynn, who lives near the site, said: “[The Queen’s Arms] has had a very negative impact on the local businesses. There’s a very nice café next door and they’ve suffered quite a bit on account of being next door to this derelict pub.” 

Ayhan Kurt, the owner of the Portland Café which is next to The Queen’s Arms, spoke to Eastondonlines about the impact the new plans will have on his business and other businesses on Portland Road.  

Kurt moved to London over 30 years ago after emigrating from Turkey at the age of 19. He has owned the Portland Café for over 20 years. 

Kurt said: “It’s good for us, it’s good for everyone here. It’ll make a change to the face of the street.” 


Some people in the local area opposed the building’s approval, arguing that not enough changed from the previous proposal put forward in 2013 for a hotel. As the pub is in the South Norwood Conservation Area, some residents objected that the new plans do not keep the character of the area. 

John Hickman, from the Norwood Society, opposed the plan and said: “This proposal is essentially identical in mass and height to the one refused here in 2013. This ought to be a sight for much needed affordable housing.” 

Since the site will consist of purpose-built student housing and has affiliations with universities, the accommodation does not have to be affordable according to the London Plan. 

Scott said: “Bringing in a generation of aspirational, inspiring students who will hopefully engage with the local area and be part of the local community will bring a level of vibrancy that South Norwood generally is trying to generate.” 

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