The size of the task facing Croydon in becoming a top 10 shopping centre in the UK, a stated aim behind the construction of a new £1billion shopping centre, is highlighted in a new report.
Venuescore 2015-16, a document produced by the Javelin Group to compare shopping venues across the UK, ranks Croydon is 20th in the UK in terms of the scale of its retail offer.
Its mark of 349 makes it second of the outer London city centres, behind only Kingston in 17th with 392.
Retail giants Westfield and Hammerson are to team up under the banner of the Croydon Partnership to deliver Croydon’s new retail and leisure offering on the site of the existing Whitgift Shopping Centre.
"Croydon was historically a leading retail destination in London," said Hammerson chief investment officer Peter Cole. "This is about putting Croydon back to where it used to be.
"This is about taking people back onto the high street, into shops, into restaurants, into cinemas and making it a real dynamic city centre.
"We’re going to put Croydon back on the map; we will be bringing new shoppers to Croydon who haven’t been coming here for the last generation."
Following the granting of a compulsory purchase order, the developers and Croydon Council are in the process of completing the land assembly process. Whitgift’s final Christmas before closing will be this year with the bulldozers scheduled to move in early in 2017.
The projected opening of the new shopping centre is 2020 with discussions ongoing with potential anchor stores for the scheme.
The full top 20 does not include London, where the West End scores 1,614 and the City 808.
Top 20: 1 Glasgow 807, 2 Manchester 766, 3 Birmingham 686, 4 Leeds 642, 5 Liverpool 551, 6 Nottingham 520, 7 Brighton 517, 8 Edinburgh 514, 9 Cardiff 512, 10 Aberdeen 464, 11 Newcastle 458, 12 Bristol 419, 13 Norwich 410, 14 Reading 408, 15 Belfast 407, 16 Leicester 401, 17 Kingston 392, 18 Bath 369, 19 Southampton 355, 20 Croydon 349.
Although the report highlights Glasgow Fort as the UK’s leading retail park destination, it points out that Croydon’s Purley Way would come out on top if the cluster of individual retail parks were combined.
The first phase of major improvements to the area around East Croydon station has been completed.
The works, which began last spring, have put in place new paving on George Street from Wellesley Road to the station and the carriageway has been resurfaced.
There are also new planters at the George Street and Wellesley Road junction.
The area around the station has been made more attractive and accessible to pedestrians, with new cladded seating on the tram platform.
Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “East Croydon is for most visitors to Croydon the entry point to the town centre, with around two million passing through the station each year.
“As Croydon’s regeneration rapidly moves forward, and more and more people visit, we have to ensure that this major transport hub is a welcoming, attractive and accessible place.
“I’m delighted that this first phase has been completed on time, and I thank everyone for their patience during these works. The next phase will now concentrate on the other side of East Croydon, and deliver high quality improvements to the area in and around the bus station.”
The works have included:-
- 4,800 sq m of new pavements
- 4,000 sq m of resurfaced carriageway
- 2,100 new shrubs, hedges and plants
- 12 new trees
- 6 new benches
The second phase of works, which starts later in the year, will refurbish the bus station at East Croydon Interchange with new paving, planting and improved lighting.
It will ensure easier connections from train to bus and tram, with better links between eastbound and westbound bus stops.
The £5.4m project to improve East Croydon is a collaborative effort between the Mayor of London, TfL, Network Rail and Croydon Council as part of the Connected Croydon programme which aims to improve Croydon’s streets, squares and open spaces.
The Mayor of London has invested £1m in this scheme through his Regeneration Fund as part of a £23million investment in Croydon plus more than £26million of match funding from Croydon Council and others through the Connected Croydon programme.
Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Policy said: “The Mayor and council are working hard to breathe new life and vitality into Croydon so it is vital that the area around the station is welcoming and attractive and reflects the upsurge in confidence in the town.
"This is just one of a number of projects that we are working on as we regenerate Croydon to make it a major driver of our economy.”
The Croydon Food Festival - the biggest foodie event in London's biggest borough - will be back with a new name and an even more ambitious programme for 2016.
Ten thousand people flocked to the famous South Croydon Restaurant Quarter in South End last summer to enjoy a delicious smorgasbord of food, fun, live music and entertainment, served up by a record number of over 70 traders.
This year, to better reflect the growing popularity and importance of the event across the borough, it is being renamed, from the South End Food Festival, to the Croydon Food Festival. And the organisers, the South Croydon Business Association (SCBA), say there are many unique opportunities for sponsors to support this premier local event.
"The festival is now the biggest food event in Croydon, attracting businesses and foodies to the Restaurant Quarter from right across the borough and beyond," said SCBA chairman Linda Arthur.
"So we felt the time was right to change its name to reflect this, and to acknowledge the increasing support we receive from many food related companies across the borough who all benefit from the business opportunity the event creates."
Linda, owner of South End cocktail bar, Bar Txt, added: "The 2015 food festival was such a fantastic success thanks to the support of the public, the traders and our wonderful sponsors from right across the borough who helped to make the day so special.
"We are already planning the 2016 event, which is set to be bigger and better than ever. There are amazing opportunities for businesses to sponsor the festival. So I would urge you to get in touch now if you want to be involved in one of the biggest events in Croydon in 2016."
The major sponsors for 2015 included Bagatti's Restaurant, Barratt Homes, London Borough of Croydon and Croydon Partnership, Malcolm John Restaurants, Lidl, Quantum, and Veolia Environmental Services.
Many of the record number of 74 traders – including top South End restaurants like Bagatti's and Brasserie Vacherin - either sold out or reported record trade on a fabulous sunny festival day last June.
Visitors to the 2016 festival will once again be able to enjoy al fresco dining on quality international cuisine, summer cocktails and dancing to live music across two stages, plus fabulous street entertainment and of course, the famous cookery demos on the Kitchen Theatre Stage.
One of the highlights of the 2015 event was the 'Battle of the Malcolms' on the Kitchen Theatre stage, with chef-patron Malcolm John of Brasserie Vacherin and Malcolm Ozwaldo, head chef of Peter Bagatti's Italian Restaurant, competing in a 'cook-off.'
Malcolm John, a SCBA committee member, said the success of the food festival proved beyond doubt that Croydon has "brilliant restaurants with amazing food."
The 2015 Festival was formally opened by Mayor of Croydon Patricia Hay-Justice. Demonstrations on the fully equipped Kitchen Theatre Stage were hosted by restaurants: Brasserie Vacherin, Olde Goa, Jam 'N' Jerk, Uncle Lim's Kitchen and Quantum with Peter Bagatti. The live music line-up included Da Groovestation, Meyers Jazz Quartet, and Celtic folk rockers Homebrood.
Run by SCBA, the other major sponsors include Bagatti's Restaurant, Barratt Homes, London Borough of Croydon and Croydon Partnership, Malcolm John Restaurants, Lidl, Quantum, and Veolia Environmental Services.
For more information about the 2016 Croydon Food Festival – including sponsorship opportunities – contact Katharine Glass at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 87265 7968.