The Brighton Main Line upgrade and redevelopment of East Croydon station is a prime opportunity to make the station a destination in its own right.
Steve Peggs, Director of Development at Network Rail Property, outlined plans to redesign the station – one of the busiest in the country – during the “Bridging The Gap” panel discussion at the Develop Croydon Conference.
The scheme would create two extra platforms, a bigger concourse area and ‘flyovers’ to enable trains to cross tracks, as well as public realm improvements, which he said would “make the station a destination in its own right” and not just a place that people pass through.
“The railway improvement has to be done first. What goes on top is the icing on the cake.”
East Croydon is a hub for London, Gatwick and the South and the station is seen as vital to the wider development of the town.
Shifa Mustafa, Executive Director of Place at Croydon Council, said: “What we have seen in Croydon in the last five years in terms of growth and development is not by accident.
“East Croydon needs to continue to grow economically,” she said, adding that the proposed redevelopment of the station provided an opportunity to create a ‘desire line’ to all the developments taking place in Croydon.
She added: “We know Croydon is going to change, but it has got to be future proof.”
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive, of Coast to Capital, said lessons could be learnt from the redevelopment of Reading station. “Reading is the most recent investment outside London. It is completely regenerating the town.
“Public realm is a way of establishing Croydon as a destination. On the back of that comes jobs. We are keen that investment drives the economy. The long-term future relies on companies moving out of London to this area.
“Railway investment is crucial, if we can get that then we can compete with other areas in England.”
Craig Marks, CEO of Menta, which has created 300 new homes in Cherry Orchard Road as part of the Morello masterplan and has another 500 in the pipeline, said the aim should be to create an East Croydon station that is the ‘epicentre’ of the South East.
“Croydon will be much more aspirational than Reading. There are some great challenges that we have around East Croydon station. We have the opportunity to get the public realm right and then the buildings can come afterwards.”
Tamsie Thomson, Director of the London Festival of Architecture, said the opportunities to improve accessibility, connectivity and the public realm that the redevelopment of the station presented were huge and that positive lessons could be taken from King’s Cross.
“The area around East Croydon station at the moment is not an exemplar. There is a huge opportunity here to have multiple entrances, avoid blockages, and create a public realm that is suitable and welcoming to everybody, that is the trick.”
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