Australian shopping centre giant Westfield and UK partner Hammerson’s have unveiled plans for a new £1 billion retail destination in Croydon after winning approval last night, paving the way for 5,000 new jobs.
The retail centre, due to open in 2018, would be Westfield’s third in the capital after Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush. Hammerson meanwhile owns north London’s main shopping centre destination at Brent Cross.
The plans will create 1.4 million sq ft of shopping, leisure and office space in Croydon, and are at the centre of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s vision to help the town recover from devastation caused by the 2011 riots. The centre will also lead to the creation of 600 homes and could receive more than 40 million visits a year. The developers have yet to decide on a name for the project, which will see Croydon’s existing Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres overhauled.
John Burton, Westfield’s director of development, said “In terms of scale, what we’re delivering here is in total larger than what we currently have at either Stratford or west London. The intention is to be a pace setter here and more widely in Europe. This will be the absolute top of the tree.”
Westfield and Hammerson buried the hatchet last year after plans to develop the two centres descended into a row. Westfield struck a deal with the Whitgift Foundation, which owned the freehold to the Whitgift centre and 25 per cent of the leasehold, to redevelop the shopping centre but the foundation’s leasehold partners preferred proposals from Hammerson. The Whitgift was the largest covered shopping centre in central London until the opening of Westfield’s Shepherds Bush centre in 2008
Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell said the proposed investment was a “once in a generation” opportunity to transform Croydon’s fortunes while making it “one of the top retail destinations in the country”.