With the scrutiny of London falling upon Croydon’s ambitious, large-scale regeneration, the Develop Croydon conference was hailed an agenda-setting success – almost 86 per cent of delegates agreed the progressive debate shaping the town’s future was leading the way in determining sustainable placemaking.
Also, a total of 89.5 per cent of those attending the event at Croydon Park Hotel on November 21, said it had improved their perception of Croydon. And 65 per cent said it had even given them ideas or information that would help their business attract investors.
Guest speakers, panel discussions, Q&As, a networking breakfast, lunch and drinks reception all contributed to the Develop Croydon experience. BBC broadcaster Lucy Hockings chaired the conference entitled ‘Meanwhile in Croydon’. Delegates also enjoyed a tour of Croydon which took in the site of the new retail-led Westfield development and the under-construction Fairfield Halls theatre and concert venue, as well as entertainment and food phenomenon, Boxpark.
Dominant themes of the day included:
Croydon’s creative director Paula Murray outlined Croydon’s bid for London Borough of Culture which 96.8 per cent of delegates backed. Boxpark was hailed as instrumental in the changing of cultural perceptions of Croydon and a further debate argued that the best developments should incorporate culture. A total of 82.4 per cent of the audience said developers should be required to include a cultural benefit in their schemes/budgets.
Housing and growth
Modular construction came under the spotlight with news that a new 45-storey tower at 101 George Street should be completed by the end of 2019. The build to rent tower will be a fully modular based construction. This house-building technology was somewhat supported by the audience, 34.8 per cent of whom said faster, off-site construction would make the biggest difference to delivering housing at the rate it’s needed. Release of publicly owned land at below market rates was considered the next crucial factor (19.6 per cent). Delegates considered the private rented sector to be the key focus for housing priorities with 32.6 per cent voting for it, followed by social housing at 21.7 per cent.
Demand from the luxury housing market was also discussed following the London Mayor’s approval of One Lansdowne, which as well as meeting upmarket homes and Grade A office needs, could become a famous landmark thanks to its 68-floor restaurant/bar and viewing gallery; the tallest in London.
Fiona Fletcher-Smith from the GLA also explained that Croydon would be pivotal in accommodating the growth London needs for many sectors, including housing.
Plans to add two platforms to East Croydon station and build an overhead office development were discussed. This would help tackle overcrowding and make the passenger experience to Gatwick airport and the coast more pleasant, enhancing Croydon’s appeal.
The Croydon Partnership’s huge town centre retail development has been approved and the project will now start to move forward. Steve Yewman, director of development for the £1.4billion retail-led scheme, said a key consideration was how to keep the town centre running once work gets underway.