Croydon’s growing status as an office hub is being underlined with thousands of government and heaquarter jobs moving to south London during 2017.
HM Revenue and Customs is preparing to move into the first of its 13 regional centres across the UK following the delivery of the first Grade A commercial building on the £500million Ruskin Square site.
And as central government continues to seek more cost-effective bases outside Westminster, Croydon’s status as the Silicon Valley for south London is being enhanced with the Home Office bringing 1,500 staff to Lunar House, Apollo House and Metro Point.
HMRC is taking all 183,000 sq ft of Grade A office space over nine floors at One Ruskin Square as well as having an option on the second office block being delivered by Schroder Real Estate Fund and its development partner Stanhope plc.
James Lass, fund manager of Schroder Real Estate Fund, said: “One Ruskin Square sets a benchmark for attractive, high quality commercial space and is a focal point for the re-emergence of Croydon as a thriving London hub.
“The landmark deal agreed with HMRC is testament to the quality of the new quarter we are creating here and we look forward to welcoming the first employees in 2017.”
Internal fit-outs are now being delivered in the building, designed by shedkm architects and built by LendLease. Floorplates range from 15-20,000 sq ft and there is also a café, reception and three retail units.
“The decision by HMRC to locate one of its new office hubs here is a further mark of confidence in both the scheme and the continuing regeneration of Croydon,” said Jason Margrave, development director of Stanhope.
Meanwhile, the effects of so many Home Office staff arriving is set to be felt throughout the town.
Sarah Wilkinson, a chief technology officer for the government, urged local businesses to use the move to break into the Home Office’s supply chain at a Croydon Tech City event, vowing to engage with local businesses in the coming months.
“It is absolutely phenomenal to go from nothing so quickly to London’s fastest-growing tech community and more than 1,000 start-ups in such a short time,” Ms Wilkinson told Croydon Tech City’s launch event for 2017.
“It bodes well for what is going to happen here in 2017. Most of us have only just really understood the enormity of what is happening here and the potential of it is still starting to dawn on us.”
Private sector firms have also begun choosing Croydon with The Body Shop, EDF Energy and Superdrug among those having recently switched head offices to the town.
Jo Negrini, chief executive of Croydon Council, told the Develop Croydon Conference enhancing employment opportunities was a key part of creating a self-sustaining borough, with employment and cultural opportunities as well as a residential offer.
“What’s great about the jobs coming through – and the HMRC is a really good example of this – is that historically the big companies have had their backroom jobs here,” she said.
“But the HMRC are bringing their tax inspectors. We’re talking about really high-grade, good quality jobs that commuters are used to going to the centre of London for. The same with The Body Shop.
“It’s all about creating that eco-system so you can do everything here – for London that’s a really good proposition.
“The important thing about Croydon is it’s a whole eco-system: it’s about living but it’s also about working, playing and having fun.”