Regeneration project: Croydon Town Centre
The long-term regeneration of Croydon town centre is being supported by a grant from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund of £23m, plus over £26m of match funding from Croydon Council and others through the Connected Croydon Programme. The investment focuses on improvements to Croydon’s streets, squares and open spaces, and on supporting new and existing businesses. The work builds on Croydon’s Opportunity Area Planning Framework which sets out a 20 year vision for Croydon’s future and complements the Croydon Partnership proposals for the Whitgift Centre so that existing businesses can benefit from increased footfall in the town centre. This will put Croydon in a strong position to optimise growth and jobs, making it a place where people want to live, work, socialise and invest.
Funding is being invested to reinvigorate Croydon’s Old Town, South End and London Road, restablishing these social and commercial centres against the tide of economic decline. In Old Town a scheme that supports market traders will make food a reason for people to visit during daytime and after work. Funding has also been awarded to St John’s Memorial Garden, a valuable but underused green space next to Croydon Minster. This will help turn it into an attractive, playful and accessible public amenity. A pop-up programme will bring empty units back to life on Croydon’s high streets.
Major investment is being made in public spaces across Croydon, with designs by Hassell, We Made That, Project Centre, Jan Kattein Architects, Studio Weave, East Architecture Landscape Urban Design, John McAslan + Partners and Croydon Council's Placemaking Team. At Wellesley Road important new pedestrian crossings will connect East and West Croydon, replacing an old subway and offering a safe and attractive gateway to the town centre. On South End a series of pocket spaces will be enhanced outside the Treehouse pub and Ruskin Parade, offering somewhere to spend time on the high street. The environment around South End’s unique restaurant quarter will also be improved to encourage outdoor dining. Across Croydon the pedestrian environment is being de-cluttered, made safer and connections are being improved.
Shop fronts and important buildings are being renovated to create an attractive and vibrant street scene and increase visitor numbers. In many cases these are buildings that were damaged during the 2011 riots, or have simply fallen into disrepair. A dedicated member of Croydon Council staff is leading these improvements and talking to businesses and building owners in London Road, Old Town and central Croydon. Designs are being drawn up to improve frontages in keeping with the rest of the street and enhance their historic character. Business owners have been asked to contribute 10% of the costs in return for valuable professional design expertise.
A national report on the 2011 riots showed that worklessness and social deprivation was a particular problem in West Croydon, where 20% of working age people are on benefits. The West Croydon Investment Programme responded by investing in six schemes across five wards to boost local businesses, improve skills, mentor young people and create jobs. A new Business Rates Relief Scheme is also helping new and existing businesses moving into the town centre, offering up to 100% relief for a year as part of the Croydon Business Support Package. This will help nurture local SMEs, complementing the town centre improvements.
Croydon Innovation Centre was conceived to support and encourage businesses that are ready to grow. It will offer office space and IT facilities in a shared environment to help foster a network of entrepreneurs. A team of advisors and a programme of seminars, workshops and networking events will provide the perfect platform for growth. The West Croydon Investment Programme also features an Enterprise Hub and a venue for networking and sharing services. It is hoped this provision will help Croydon become a centre for entrepreneurial business development and technology, creating new jobs and promoting growth.
Huge improvements are being made to accommodate public and private transport in the area. At East Croydon, the council is working with the Mayor, Network Rail and TfL to improve this important arrival point on the back of the East Croydon Masterplan. New transport infrastructure and interchange facilities are being carefully coordinated with developments including the Ruskin Square, Cherry Orchard Road and Royal Mail sites. This will create a new urban quarter with an improved transport interchange and railway station. At West Croydon the transition between tram, train and bus stations is being redesigned to create more space for pedestrians, while junctions and crossings are being improved throughout the whole area.
Croydon’s Opportunity Area Planning Framework sets out a 20-year vision for the area, and has been adopted by the council as a supplementary planning document. Prepared jointly by the Mayor and Croydon Council in partnership with TfL, it is a guide to development that makes sure investment is spent strategically and effectively. Studies into land use, public space, building height and form, transport, and parking are combined with policy and guidance from a national and local level. The document prepares the ground for more detailed masterplans of individual areas, and identifies the need for 7,300 homes to accommodate 17,000 anticipated new residents and 100,000 sqm of new commercial space for the town centre.
Preparing for change
A masterplan for Croydon’s distinctive Old Town will coordinate the delivery of new initiatives and reveal its full potential as the town’s traditional focal point. As a relatively wide area with important high streets throughout, a large local population and many opportunity sites, the masterplan enables a suite of small interventions to be bound together in a single vision. The masterplan prioritises public space projects, including a strategy for improving access to heritage and details necessary changes to the transport and pedestrian network. Thanks to extensive community involvement, the masterplan’s priorities are well balanced and suited to the needs of local people.
Partners/client: LB Croydon, TfL, Network Rail
Consultants: Project Centre, Studio Weave, Jan Kattein Architects, Hassell, We Made That, John McAslan + Partners, East Architecture Landscape Urban Design, OKRA, Peter Brett Associates, Allies and Morrison, Urban Practitioners
Funding: Mayor of London £23m, LB Croydon £26m