Business

Westfield of the south plan on hold

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£1.4 billion scheme to revive Croydon’s rundown town centre with a huge new Westfield shopping mall has been scrapped after a decade of planning.

The proposal was the centrepiece of a massive revamp of Croydon’s Sixties Whitgift shopping centre to create a retail “destination” for the whole of south London and the commuter belt.

Work on the project — a joint venture between the French-owned mall operator and British property giant Hammerson brokered in 2012 by then mayor Boris Johnson — was supposed to have started three years ago.

In April it received another setback when John Lewis withdrew plans for a department store “anchor” for the centre.

Now the council has confirmed that planning permission for the development has expired and a new blueprint for reviving Croydon will have to be drawn from scratch.

It leaves Croydon with dozens of empty shops including the former Allders department store which closed in 2012 shortly after the London riots.

CGI of how the development was expected to transform Croydon

/ Handout

A report to the council this week said the original scheme is no longer an “appropriate or sustainable development”.

It added: “Croydon is fortunate that the 2018 development did not proceed — opening post-pandemic with an outdated operating model — but the Whitgift Centre is very tired and requires a fresh approach away from a traditional model dominated by retail and anchored by department stores.”

The council said: “The Croydon Limited Partnership of Hammerson and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has assured the council that they remain committed to regenerating our town centre. We will also be engaging with all our communities this year so their priorities for a sustainable regeneration can be taken on board.”

Plans outlined in the report include a textile repairs café in the Whitgift Centre and a possible tech office hub in the shopping centre.

Simon Cochrane of the Croydon Partnership said: “We look forward to working with the council to create the action plan which will define a new vision for the town centre.”

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