Croydon’s game-changing Westfield/Hammerson redevelopment of the town centre is finally back on track after an emergency intervention by the Conservative Government and Croydon Conservatives.
Westfield and Hammerson’s plans to redevelop and combine the two main Croydon shopping centres, the Whitgift Centre and Centrale, are designed to deliver a comprehensive and transformational change to Croydon.
First announced in 2013, the deal was brokered by the then Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the then Conservative-led Croydon Council. Construction was expected to start on site in 2015 for the c. £1bn scheme.
Since Labour won control of Croydon Council in 2014 and Sadiq Khan won the London Mayoralty in 2016 the Westfield/Hammerson development has been beset by delay after delay, struggling to progress due to unrealistic demands and poor project management from Labour.
Such major schemes of regional importance need political leadership to make them happen.
Croydon's Labour-run Council have failed to provide that leadership since taking office, instead we have seen nearly four years of delay.
Despite this scheme bringing £1.4 billion investment, circa 7000 jobs and 1000 homes, and £8.4million in new homes bonus it has been rarely mentioned or championed by the current Labour Council. Conservatives have regularly challenged the Council as to why they have failed to promote and champion such a vital scheme.
It has taken cross party support and the direct intervention of a Conservative government minister to get the show back on the road.
With incredible complacency from Croydon’s Labour-run Council and intransigence from the office of the Labour Mayor of London, the future of the scheme was saved from jeopardy by intense lobbying from Croydon Conservatives, MP Chris Philp and crunch talks brokered by Greg Hands MP, Conservative Minister for London.
Delayed construction is finally due to start in 2019.
Commenting on the announcement, Cllr Tim Pollard, Leader of Croydon’s Conservative councillors said: “Across Croydon there is plenty of evidence that Labour’s not delivering: there are too many projects behind schedule and vacant sites where nothing is happening. The investors behind those sites are all waiting to see whether our Labour council can deliver the Westfield/Hammerson scheme or not. So the town simply can’t afford for Labour to delay this scheme any further, and this granting of planning permission brings the day when we will know for sure that the development is going ahead that bit closer.”
Greg Hands, Minister for London, commented: "I am delighted that after convening two meetings of all concerned parties, here at the Department for International Trade, we will now see construction taking place. This major redevelopment of the Whitgift site will bring huge benefits to Croydon and London with thousands of new homes and jobs.
"This is a great example of local and central government working together with private investors, and as Minister for London I’m delighted to be supporting the project, and seeing it secure planning approval.
"As Minister for Trade it is also yet another example of London and the UK’s appeal to international investors, bringing much-needed regeneration projects to life. Croydon will join locations across the world, from San Francisco to Sydney, with a flagship Westfield site, once again proving London’s enduring strength as a leading global retail destination."