Westfield/Hammerson get £1.4bn Croydon all clear

By Paul Norman - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 20:54

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The Croydon Partnership, the joint venture between Westfield and Hammerson, has received resolution to grant outline planning consent from the London Borough of Croydon for its revised plans for the £1.4bn redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre.

The consent is for over 1.5 m sq ft of retail and leisure floor space. The project will create up to 7,000 jobs.

The masterplan maintains the design principles of the original 2014 consented scheme but includes: the addition of a third level of retail and restaurants, the incorporation of the Green Park House office site, which was acquired by the Croydon Partnership in February 2016; allows for better integration with West Croydon, improved public realm on Poplar Walk, as well as the delivery of a brand new flagship Marks & Spencer store. The plans also include a new covered 24/7 public walkway, the East-West Galleria, that will improve connectivity within the town centre and enhance safety and security on the site. The newly approved plans include an increased housing provision of up to nearly 1,000 homes adjoining the redeveloped centre, including a higher percentage of affordable housing.

The partnership is now working towards an earliest commencement of full construction on site in 2019, allowing the Whitgift Centre to continue trading through the 2018 Christmas period. The decision paves the way for the Partnership to prepare detailed designs for the scheme, to conclude the CPO and the land assembly process and finalise legal agreements with prospective anchor retailers including M&S.

The plans to redevelop the Whitgift Centre are at the heart of the wider regeneration of Croydon, with £5.25bn of planned major investments seen in the form of new office and residential developments, as well as the Council’s town centre infrastructure improvement programme.

The Croydon Partnership has been working with all stakeholders, including Croydon Council, GLA and TfL to co-ordinate with the 5-year town centre infrastructure programme. The redevelopment programme for the centre is aligned with this infrastructure schedule to minimise disruption during construction and ensure that Croydon is ready to accommodate the influx of new shoppers, workers and residents to the town.

The new plans increase the number of homes to be provided, with between 626 and 967 new homes being targeted. Following detailed discussions with both the Council and the GLA, it has been agreed that the proportion of affordable housing will be increased from 15% to a minimum of 20%. This means the delivery of between 125 and 193 affordable homes compared to between 60 and 120 for the previously consented scheme. The new homes will be delivered in four or five residential buildings overlooking Wellesley Road. It is anticipated that the first buildings will be developed with the construction of the retail scheme, with the remainder being developed in phases thereafter.

The development will contribute over £30m to the provision of local infrastructure via the Community Infrastructure levy, together with around £7.5m for scheme specific measures including £2.5m to support employment and training initiatives to assist with providing jobs for local people.

John Burton, OBE Westfield UK/Europe’s Head of Development, said: “The approval of the £1.4bn plans to redevelop the Whitgift Centre represents a significant milestone for the project and for Croydon. Retail-regeneration projects have a proven track record to deliver transformation and regeneration which is evidenced by the £5.25bn of inward investment planned for Croydon. The positive response from London Borough of Croydon provides confidence to retailers, investors and the community, enabling the Croydon Partnership to create South London’s best retail, dining and leisure destination and deliver new homes and 7,000 jobs.”

Peter Cole, Hammerson’s Chief Investment Officer, said: “Our goal remains to deliver a world-class retail and leisure destination to attract new visitors to Croydon and enhance economic growth in the town. We are pleased with the level of retail demand which has driven the evolution of the design and layout of the new scheme, and we look forward to progressing our plans and transforming Croydon into one of the UK’s top 10 retail and leisure destinations.”

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council, said: “This is fantastic news for Croydon and we have been doing everything we can to bring the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre to fruition so local people can benefit from its wealth of offerings, including the creation of 7,000 new jobs.

“The new homes and the thousands of jobs this development will bring shows investors are rightly confident about Croydon as a place to live, work and spend free time. I am delighted contractors will be on site in 2019 to kick-start the exciting transformation of the heart of our town.

“I’d personally like to thank the Greater London Authority and Greg Hands MP the Minister for London for their continued support for this project.

“I’m pleased we have reached this major milestone in the delivery of a world class retail and leisure facility and it’s another step to reinforcing Croydon’s growing reputation as one of London’s top destinations.”

Greg Hands MP, Minister for London, said: “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 it shows once again London’s enduring appeal for international investment. As Minister for London I’m delighted to be supporting the project, and seeing it secure planning approval.”

Martin Corney, Chief Executive of freehold owner The Whitgift Foundation, said: “This is a momentous decision for Croydon’s future and we are thrilled that approval has been given by the Council for the scheme to go ahead and create one of the UK’s top 10 shopping and entertainment destinations.

“This is also significant for the Foundation to secure our future funding so that more children can attend our schools, as well as offering increased care and support to older people and the borough’s carers who are looking after a friend or relative.

“As a Croydon landowner and charity, we are in a unique position to help safeguard the town’s future prosperity for decades to come and ensure our rental income is put back into the community through our charitable activities.”

Sarah Jones MP for Croydon Central, said: “Croydon is one of the most exciting places to live in London right now – with Boxpark, the Fairfield halls development, street art, huge musical talent and Tech City.

“The one piece of the jigsaw that we have all been working towards is for the town centre to become the vibrant heart of Croydon once again.

“I know my constituents will be delighted with tonight's news. We have the largest young population in London and this will create thousands of job opportunities, setting our young people up for a bright future.

“Croydon has waited years for our new town centre so it’s important we now get to work as soon as possible.”

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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