By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
The long-awaited regeneration of Croydon town centre will not see the huge Westfield shopping centre built – as originally planned.
Now plans to help the borough’s main shopping district bounce back from the pandemic are being put in motion.
Planning permission for the massive Westfield shopping centre has now expired.
The Croydon Partnership, which combines Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson, announced in 2019 it is undertaking a review of the scheme to include fewer shops, a hotel and offices.
The partnership is now looking at ways to regenerate the town centre – after both companies suffered “significant setbacks” during the pandemic.
A Croydon council report lays out just what the next steps could be.
The report going to cabinet on Monday (August 16) said: “Both partners need time to work through what this will mean for Croydon and the Whitgift, however they are committed to work with the council, other town centre stakeholders and the communities to ensure that successful and fit for purpose proposals for the regeneration and redevelopment of the Whitgift and town centre are evolved.”
It adds that the original scheme is no longer an “appropriate or sustainable development”.
The report says there are many empty shops in the town centre and adds this has only increased in the past year.
Future plans outlined in the report include a textile repairs café in the Whitgift Centre and a possible tech office hub in the shopping centre.
It also reveals that Croydon Partnership is working on a plan to
repurpose part of the former Allders building, which has been empty since 2019, possibly for an educational organisation.
And it looks like future regeneration of the Whitgift Centre and surrounding land will happen in phases rather than one big overhaul.
The report adds: “Croydon on the one hand is fortunate that the 2018 development did not proceed; opening post pandemic with an outdated operating model, but the Whitgift Centre now is very tired and requires
a fresh approach away from a traditional model dominated by retail and anchored by department stores.”
Cabinet is set to discuss the report and approve £50,000 be spent to kick off engaging with businesses and locals.
The council also hopes to open the Croydon Urban Room in an empty shop in the town centre as a base for this work.