Westfield and Hammerson’s £1bn retail redevelopment of Croydon’s town center approved (UK)

The London Borough of Croydon has resolved to grant planning permission to the Croydon Partnership’s outline planning application for the redevelopment of the Whitgift Center, marking a significant step forward in Westfield and Hammerson’s plans to regenerate Croydon’s retail town center.

At a special meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee, dedicated entirely to the Croydon Partnership’s proposal on 25 November 2013, the application received support from the committee.

The Croydon Partnership’s £1billion (approx. €1.2 billion) scheme will transform Croydon’s town centre into a 1.5m ft² (approx. 139,300 m²) state-of-the-art retail, leisure and restaurant destination, together with new public realm, new car parking and up to 600 new residential units including affordable housing. This will provide the kick start to Croydon’s much needed regeneration and will attract new residents and visitors back to the town centre for the benefit of all local businesses whilst delivering a safe destination for families.

The planning approval is part of the Partnership’s wider 2 million ft² (approx. 185,806 m²) vision to regenerate the town center, including the adjacent Centrale shopping center, which has planning consent for a refurbishment programme.

The project will involve improvements to existing public areas adjacent to the development such as North End, Poplar Walk, Wellesley Road and George Street together with new road junctions to facilitate traffic flow at Wellesley Road and Park Lane.

The scheme will also provide over £30 million (approx. €35.8 million) towards local transport improvements and employment and training benefits. The employment initiatives will be aimed at ensuring Croydon’s local population, and particularly its youth, are able to benefit from the new job opportunities the development will provide.

The key elements of the contributions are:

• £15m for the tram network

• £10m for the bus network

• £2.5m for local highways

• £1.625m for sustainable transport initiatives

• £1.3m for employment and training initiatives

The London Borough of Croydon has already initiated the preliminary stages of a potential CPO process having sent out letters to all of the parties that would be affected and held preliminary discussions. This is in advance of the Council’s consideration to use CPO powers to support the site assembly process in the New Year.

Following the Council’s resolution to grant outline planning consent, the application will now be considered by The Mayor of London. Detailed designs for the scheme will be unveiled during 2014 and a start on site is expected in 2015.

John Burton, Director of Development of Westfield, commented: “This is a significant step forward in our plans for the redevelopment of Croydon’s retail town centre and importantly will create 5,000 new local jobs. We believe that our proposed £1bn investment into the transformation of Croydon’s shopping and leisure offer has the potential to act as a major catalyst for the wider physical and social regeneration of the town. The support we received from the Council this evening further strengthens that belief.”

Peter Cole, Chief Investment Officer of Hammerson, added: “Our scheme will re-establish Croydon as the retail destination of South London which will attract further investment and development. Our goal is to deliver a world-class retail and leisure destination to attract new visitors to the town and ensure Croydon regains its status as a thriving town centre. Tonight’s decision brings that vision one step closer to reality.”

Cllr Mike Fisher, Leader of Croydon Council said: “Today’s resolution to approve Westfield and Hammerson’s planning application is a very important day for Croydon. We are committed to ensuring that the town’s regeneration projects provide a lasting positive impact for Croydon and future generations.”

Ian Harley, Chairman of The Whitgift Foundation said: “We congratulate London Borough of Croydon on the resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitgift Centre redevelopment. This redevelopment is vital to the town as well as securing necessary income to maintain the work of this long established charity which presently provides in excess of £5 million per annum in bursaries enabling access to our three renowned schools and also to support the running of our three care homes. We look forward to working with the Council and The Croydon Partnership on the regeneration plans for the benefit of Croydon.”

Source: FTI Consulting

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