When Croydon Council was under Conservative control, Westfield and Hammerson announced a landmark deal to invest £1.5 billion to redevelop the Whitgift Centre. The deal would have brought investment, created 5000 jobs and several hundred new homes. The scheme had planning permission and was due to open in 2018.
Sadly, when Labour took control of the Council in 2014 the first thing they did was to seek amendments to the scheme which resulted in delays to its commencement.
From that initial delay the scheme has been caught up in Brexit, economic uncertainty and changes in shopping habits.
If the scheme had commenced in 2014 and completed in 2018, as planned, it would no doubt be a thriving success now, just like Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City.
Rather than proactively promote the Croydon scheme, Croydon’s Labour Council, having caused the initial delay, has more often than not remained silent on the issue.
Indeed, the Westfield proposals failed to make it onto the Council agenda for over a year. You would imagine that a scheme worth over £1.5 billion would be worthy of regular discussion?
We are, therefore, very concerned to hear the news that the scheme has now been pulled from the Unibail Rodamco Westfield project pipeline.
Conservative Councillor Jason Perry, shadow cabinet member for planning and regeneration (and the cabinet member when the original scheme was given planning permission) says “Croydon Conservatives have always supported the scheme and very much want to see it happen. We are seeking urgent reassurances from Westfield. If this scheme does fail then Croydon Labour are very much culpable.”
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Tim Pollard, says “Labour will have failed to deliver a scheme that is vital for the future prosperity of our town. They will have squandered future jobs and homes for thousands of Croydon’s residents. And in their six years in control the town centre has dwindled to a pale shadow of its former self. It needs urgent revitalisation if it is ever again to be considered to be a major retail centre.”