Westfield details plans for Croydon

Wimbledon Guardian: An artists impression of Westfield's Croydon plan An artists impression of Westfield's Croydon plan

A Westfield Shopping Centre attracting up to 40m shoppers a year would have been under construction before 2014 if developers had been given the green light.

Australian Retail giants Westfield have declared they are prepared to invest £1bn to redevelop the Whitgift Centre into a huge shopping centre, including a cinema, bowling alley and four towers of flats providing about 500 new homes.

The company has complete backing from landowners The Whitgift Foundation and signed a formal agreement to take the project on in November last year.

The proposal hit a roadblock after leaseholders to the town centre site, Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) and Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC), who between them control a 75 per cent stake, rejected Westfield, choosing rivals Hammerson, who own Centrale Shopping Centre, to take forward development of the site.

But John Burton, Westfield’s director of development, said the firm still had big plans for Croydon.

He said: "Whatever happens for Croydon it will be getting a new shopping centre.

"The point I would make is none of the other parties involved are able to come forward with this sort of money without going to the banks, who let’s be honest, are not lending easily.

"Without this delay we would have been looking at completion before the end of 2013."

The Whitgift Centre attracted 24m visitors between 2011 and 2012.

There are strong parallels in Croydon with the issues that preceded Westfield’s development of its Stratford centre, which opened in September last year.

The company gained a 25 per cent foothold in the site in 2004, but was unable to convince other landowners to allow development.

Mr Burton said: "With the announcement of the London Olympics the pressure became huge to progress development.

"None of the other parties had the funds to move forward and so we were able to acquire the site."

The company has set about applying similar pressure in Croydon.

Despite the lack of support from RLAM and IBRC an outline planning application was presented to Croydon Council in May with public consultation set to begin in a fortnight and a detailed plan by the end of July.

Mr Burton said: "Whatever happens this situation will be resolved and if it comes our way we need to be ready to strike.

"You could say it was premature but it simply gives the council an idea of what we could deliver.

"There is still no sign of a plan from Hammerson."

Westfield Stratford, at 1.9m sq ft of retail, is larger than the proposed site in Croydon, which is expected to include 1.5m sq ft of retail space.

Since opening, the Stratford venue has attracted 800,000 visitors a week, and generated about £500m in sales by March 2012.

Mr Burton said: "If you had said 800,000 people would be coming to Stratford every week to shop a few years back people would have said you were mad.

"We can deliver this to Croydon, we just need to be given the green light."

Comments (8)

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9:11am Thu 21 Jun 12

southcroydonpete says...

And no doubt they can incorporate the Allders floor area as well now. However, I wonder whether the Allders facade is listed, if not perhaps it should be.
And no doubt they can incorporate the Allders floor area as well now. However, I wonder whether the Allders facade is listed, if not perhaps it should be. southcroydonpete

10:01am Thu 21 Jun 12

ANNE MILES says...

We use Bromley's Glades or Sutton now, much more pleasant.
We use Bromley's Glades or Sutton now, much more pleasant. ANNE MILES

1:50pm Thu 21 Jun 12

Annon43 says...

Anne Miles...... You never have anything nice to say about anything that happens in Croydon, too many chicken shops and Sutton and Bromley are much more pleasant! Why don't you just move? Look at the bigger picture, this could regenerate the town and provide much needed housing and jobs for people who actually like where they live.
Anne Miles...... You never have anything nice to say about anything that happens in Croydon, too many chicken shops and Sutton and Bromley are much more pleasant! Why don't you just move? Look at the bigger picture, this could regenerate the town and provide much needed housing and jobs for people who actually like where they live. Annon43

2:13pm Thu 21 Jun 12

xeepo says...

Personally I would love to see Westfield take on the Whitgift. Quality, large-scale shopping is what Westfield do and I believe they do it very well. There is very little about Croydon that syncs up or works particularly well together - in terms of its physical architecture. The more that Westfield would like to invest in the centre and it's surroundings the better - surely?! As Westfield have pointed out, there have been no plans laid out by Hammerson as to what they'd actually do with the Whitgift going forward; Baring in mind that they have their own plans to redevelop their existing Centrale centre... I honestly cannot see refurbishments of both centres being carried out simultaneously... so either one will not get done at all or will certainly not begin for a very long time, while the other is completed. If Croydon town centre is taking the nose dive that some think it is, then surely it's best to get some "new blood" on board? Large internationally recognised (for the right reasons) businesses, like Westfield, who're ready AND willing to invest NOW can only be a good thing for the area; In turn this would also better position the existing stakeholders (ie Hammerson with Centrale) to focus on their existing assets better. I'd love to know where the £50m they've already spent on Centrale has gone, the yellow PVC must have been very pricey! Plus, some competition between centres/owners can only be a good thing for the consumer; I think I'd feel very uneasy being in a town centre with virtually one owner!
Personally I would love to see Westfield take on the Whitgift. Quality, large-scale shopping is what Westfield do and I believe they do it very well. There is very little about Croydon that syncs up or works particularly well together - in terms of its physical architecture. The more that Westfield would like to invest in the centre and it's surroundings the better - surely?! As Westfield have pointed out, there have been no plans laid out by Hammerson as to what they'd actually do with the Whitgift going forward; Baring in mind that they have their own plans to redevelop their existing Centrale centre... I honestly cannot see refurbishments of both centres being carried out simultaneously... so either one will not get done at all or will certainly not begin for a very long time, while the other is completed. If Croydon town centre is taking the nose dive that some think it is, then surely it's best to get some "new blood" on board? Large internationally recognised (for the right reasons) businesses, like Westfield, who're ready AND willing to invest NOW can only be a good thing for the area; In turn this would also better position the existing stakeholders (ie Hammerson with Centrale) to focus on their existing assets better. I'd love to know where the £50m they've already spent on Centrale has gone, the yellow PVC must have been very pricey! Plus, some competition between centres/owners can only be a good thing for the consumer; I think I'd feel very uneasy being in a town centre with virtually one owner! xeepo

9:57am Sat 23 Jun 12

Beach Combover says...

You can't polish a turd though!! lol
You can't polish a turd though!! lol Beach Combover

9:30pm Fri 13 Jul 12

mseven says...

In Croydon there are too many retail units. Opening another shopping centre or extending current shopping centres will make it worse. In the late 90s the retail units at the Whitgift Centre were almost all occupied and there were no vacant shops on the lower floor. When Centrale was opened shops started to move out and have been empty since.

There are retail units in Centrale that have never been occupied in the almost 10 years since it opened, the almost all of the top floor is vacant shops. Uniqlo moved out in about May, the Pier closed down about 3 years ago and the food court only had about 1 to 3 shops at a time.

Bringing a new shopping centre wont bring more shops it will just make others move from the other to the new one or open another store simular to the others in Centrale and the Whitgift Centre.
In Croydon there are too many retail units. Opening another shopping centre or extending current shopping centres will make it worse. In the late 90s the retail units at the Whitgift Centre were almost all occupied and there were no vacant shops on the lower floor. When Centrale was opened shops started to move out and have been empty since. There are retail units in Centrale that have never been occupied in the almost 10 years since it opened, the almost all of the top floor is vacant shops. Uniqlo moved out in about May, the Pier closed down about 3 years ago and the food court only had about 1 to 3 shops at a time. Bringing a new shopping centre wont bring more shops it will just make others move from the other to the new one or open another store simular to the others in Centrale and the Whitgift Centre. mseven

10:21pm Fri 13 Jul 12

xeepo says...

The owners of the Whitgift Centre went into administration more than a year ago. They're looking for someone to invest and improve the existing Whitgift site - they're not building a third centre.
The owners of the Whitgift Centre went into administration more than a year ago. They're looking for someone to invest and improve the existing Whitgift site - they're not building a third centre. xeepo

10:36am Sat 14 Jul 12

amb719 says...

Xeepo - I couldn't agree more with your comments above. I thought I'd have a look at what Hammerson are proposing and found very little. I can't tell what they have spent millions on in Centrale - it looks exactly the same as it always has. My vote goes massively to Westfield which seems to have the name to bring in the shops and the people and make Croydon a lovely place to shop and a desirable place to live. As for the number of retail units currently empty - there has to be a critical mass (and I think most people agree, a John Lewis) which will bring in enough people to support a broad range of small and large shops. Croydon is falling apart now and I wish they would get their acts together and realise they need to do something now to stop this. I am still terribly saddened by the loss of Turtles and what they did to the George street end of town and fear this will go the same way without some sensible leadership and a coherent plan. I really like Croydon... it is just such a shame it has such a poor reputation, it has such great potential.
Xeepo - I couldn't agree more with your comments above. I thought I'd have a look at what Hammerson are proposing and found very little. I can't tell what they have spent millions on in Centrale - it looks exactly the same as it always has. My vote goes massively to Westfield which seems to have the name to bring in the shops and the people and make Croydon a lovely place to shop and a desirable place to live. As for the number of retail units currently empty - there has to be a critical mass (and I think most people agree, a John Lewis) which will bring in enough people to support a broad range of small and large shops. Croydon is falling apart now and I wish they would get their acts together and realise they need to do something now to stop this. I am still terribly saddened by the loss of Turtles and what they did to the George street end of town and fear this will go the same way without some sensible leadership and a coherent plan. I really like Croydon... it is just such a shame it has such a poor reputation, it has such great potential. amb719

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