Column for The Croydon Advertiser: Westfield and Hammerson application before Planning Committee
Croydon Council’s Strategic Planning Committee will be determining Westfield and Hammerson’s planning application to redevelop the Whitgift Centre on 25th November.
When the news was first announced that these two retail giants jointly wanted to invest over £1billion in our town, I said that it was the best news that we’ve had for a very long time. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the town centre has been in relative decline for many years. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn its fortunes around. It won’t just give us a new shopping centre with some of the top national brand names that we don’t currently have in the town; it will also act as a catalyst to encourage businesses to relocate here and other developers to bring forward schemes.
When Westfield and Hammerson announced their intention to invest here back in January, a lot of people were sceptical. I don’t blame them - I’ve lost count of the number of plans for the town centre I’ve seen announced only for nothing then to happen during my time in Croydon politics. But these are two of the leading retail developers in the country and the fixing of the date for their planning application to be determined is further evidence that this time it’s for real. It’s the culmination of a lot of detailed work that’s been going on behind the scenes over the last 10 months, in which I’ve been heavily involved.
There is still a long way to go. If the scheme is given planning permission, as I hope it will be, there may then need to be a Compulsory Purchase Order and then it’ll take several years to build. But we can have increasing confidence that the long term decline of our borough is now being reversed.
Last Wednesday I held a public meeting explaining the plans and the other exciting schemes planned for our town centre.
Click here to see the presentation summary and a podcast of the meeting.
This article first appeared in the Croydon Advertiser on Friday 22nd November 2013