This morning, I went to see Stanhope and Schroders' latest plans for Ruskin Square, the site next to East Croydon Station.
They are proposing a mixed use office and residential scheme with 900,000 square feet of grade A office space and 550 new homes. The scheme will also include a new home for the Warehouse Theatre, high quality restaurants and shops and a direct route from the town centre through the site to link with the proposed new bridge over the railway and second ticket hall for East Croydon Station.
The new scheme is about the same total size as the scheme which already has planning consent. The reason the scheme has been redesigned is to take account of the changing needs of potential occupiers, changed market conditions and, in particular, the proposed new bridge over the railway.
This site has lain vacant all my life. The biggest mistake our Conservative Council has made (a mistake to which I was party when I was a councillor) was to continue promoting the Arrowcroft arena scheme for this site that we inherited from the previous Labour administration. We were told that the Council would face a significant financial penalty if it pulled out and, given the state of the finances we inherited, we felt we couldn't risk that - though we have subsequently been told that we could have got out. Had we done so and worked with Stanhope and Schroders from the word go, at least part of the site might have been developed by now. Stanhope and Schroders will be submitting a hybrid application (part outline, part full) later this year. I hope they get approval and we can finally see this key part of the town centre regenerated.