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Another step closer to work starting on Westfield/Hammerson scheme’s to redevelop the Whitgift Centre
06/02/2014 07:08:00

 
 

Yesterday Croydon Council signed a Section 106 agreement with the Croydon Partnership formed between two of the country’s leading developers, Westfield and Hammerson.

Section 106 agreements set out the financial contributions developers make to mitigate the impact of their schemes.

Under the terms of yesterday’s agreement, Westfield and Hammerson will be required to deliver a range of initiatives to ensure that as many as possible of the thousands of jobs that will be created by their development go to Croydon residents, particularly those who are long term unemployed. They will provide apprenticeships and internships, support local contractors and back new business start-ups by providing test trading spaces in the shopping centre. With the economy recovering fast, unemployment in the town is already falling sharply and this development is a huge opportunity to reduce it even further.

The agreement also provides for significant investment in Croydon’s transport system. Westfield and Hammerson will provide £15 million for enhancements to the tram system, £10 million for additional bus services, £2.5 million for local highways improvements and £1.6 million for sustainable transport. Streets and public spaces in North End will benefit from a revamp with £2.1 million spent on new lighting and other environmental improvements and £150,000 has been allocated for public art within the scheme.

And Section 106 payments are only one of three ways in which the developers will be contributing to our town (beyond the £1 billion investment involved in acquiring and redeveloping the site), the others being Section 278 payments for the highways works in the immediate area and Community Infrastructure Levy payments towards wider infrastructure improvements.

The signing of the Section 106 agreement is the final stage in the planning process and so a big step towards construction getting underway. One major step remains and that is for Westfield and Hammerson to acquire the remainder of the site. They are already well on the way. They have signed an agreement with the Whitgift Foundation (of whom I am a governor, though I have taken no part in their discussions with Westfield and Hammerson in order that I can speak freely on behalf of my constituents), who own the freehold of most of the site. They have bought the lease from Royal London Asset Management and they own the Centrale shopping centre on the other side of North End. They still need to acquire the sub-lease to the Whitgift Centre, which used to be owned by Anglo Irish Bank but is now in the hands of the Irish Government following the banking crisis; and the freehold to part of the Allders building, which is owned by Minerva. They can either acquire these interests on the open market or, if those who currently own them seek to frustrate the future of our town by refusing to sell, the Council can use its powers to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order. I hope we will hear more news on this front in the next few weeks. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes, in which both the Conservative administration at the Town Hall (who deserve a huge amount of credit for getting us this far), the Mayor of London’s office and I are heavily involved.

When Westfield and Hammerson announced their intention to invest in Croydon just over a year ago, 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 yesterday’s agreement is further evidence that this time it’s for real.

Comment on this blog

 

Readers' Comments

On 07/02/2014 08:31:00 Wayne Norcliffe wrote:
Hi I wonder what is happening with the NCP car parks in this development, I was involved at a Senior level and am interested to know more if anyone can update me?
 
On 07/02/2014 12:14:00 Jim wrote:
This is typical government double standards - one rule for themselves whilst another for the private sector. Whilst the government supported the Bribery Act 2010 which imposes a huge burden on businesses when doing business overseas - even more onerous than US anti-bribery legislation, it uses section 106 "agreements" to effectively force bribes from developers if they want to go ahead with their plans.

Precisely why should these payments be made? They will be paying business rates on their property, stamp duty on land acquisitions, corporation tax on any profits they make, employer's NI on their staff not to mention collecting PAYE/VAT.

Why should they be forced to employ certain categories of person? Why do public officials have to stick their mits into the honey pot and mess around with everything?

 
On 14/03/2014 18:14:00 Clare wrote:
Well done and thank you to all those responsible for securing a wonderful shopping experience for Croydon. I have watched the decline of Croydon with sadness! We now have good reason to be excited about seeing our borough move forward like the rest of London! Great news about the compulsory purchase order if these companies try to get too greedy!
 
On 16/03/2014 09:48:00 P Horsted wrote:
when can we see plans for this project and what will happen to the business while the construction is under way will the Whitgift center be demolished and a complete new one built it is all very vague at the moment and I wonder if parking will be free as it is extortionate in croydon at the moment
 
On 17/03/2014 09:41:00 Gavin Barwell MP wrote:
Wayne - the Allders and Whitgift Centre multi-storey car parks fall within the boundaries of the site. the plan is to retain the Whitgift Centre one, demolish the Allders one but provide additional new parking on top of the development. Westfield and Hammersons are well aware that the current pricing policy is one of the things that puts people off coming to Croydon.

Jim - developments, particularly large ones like this, impose costs on public services eg more people coming to Croydon by car, bus, rail and tram. It is right that the developer should have to pay a contribution to meet these costs - why should taxpayers have to pick up the tab?

P Horsted - see above re parking. In terms of the plans, there are quite detailed outline plans at the moment, which you can see on the Council's website, and more detail will become available over time.

 
 

 

 

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG