June 20 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Westfield’s decision to join forces with rival retail group Hammerson to regenerate Croydon town centre has been described as “fantastic” for the borough by a key business leader.
The two firms today announced they had formed a joint company to redevelop and combine the Whitgift and Centrale centres in £1billion scheme expected to generate 5,000 new jobs.
Construction is expected to start in 2015 with its re-opening pencilled in for 2018.
Matthew Sims, chief executive of Croydon BID, the town’s independent body of retailers, said the deal could help realise the town’s potential.
He said: “Croydon is a wonderful location, it’s had it’s problems, you only have to look back at 2011.
"It sends a really clear message to those people who want to come into Croydon, whoever it may be."
“Six months ago we were talking about Hammerson or Westfield, the fact that it’s wonderful that we had two organisations wanting to invest in Croydon, now we have both together.
“It sends a really clear message to those people who want to come into Croydon, whoever it may be.”
Croydon’s politicians also welcomed the move.
Leader Mike Fisher said the Conservative-run council had considered intervening in the impasse between Westfield and Hammerson over the future of the Whitgift.
He said: “We’re delighted that the developers have listened to our concerns and have come together in the best interests of Croydon.
“The council’s aim has always been to ensure that the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre was resolved as soon as possible and we’ve worked hard towards achieving this.
“There is still a planning process to go through, but this is a significant breakthrough which is bound to be a catalyst for further investment and economic growth in the town centre and the borough.
“It is a major part of the council’s wide-reaching regeneration schemes for Croydon.”
Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon’s Labour Party, said: “We have had very positive meetings with both companies and are very excited about this proposed deal.
“This must be an opportunity to ensure quality jobs and training for local people, including the thousands of mainly young, long-term unemployed people living in Croydon who must finally be given the chance to work again.”