Croydon will soon be home to a £1.4 billion Westfield shopping centre after plans for the development were unanimously approved by councillors.
Work on the complex, which will be London’s third Westfield, is scheduled to begin in 2019.
The project will form the heart of a scheme that aims to regenerate Croydon’s town centre.
Sitting within a redeveloped core of Croydon’s former Whitgift Shopping Centre, the development will be home to more than 300 shops, restaurants, cafes and leisure facilities, plus a multi-screen cinema and bowling alley.
Around 7,000 new jobs and 1,000 new homes are included in the proposals.
Plans were first granted permission in 2014, but in October last year an enhanced application was submitted with key revisions, including more housing and a new flagship Marks and Spencer store.
The scheme was jointly negotiated between the council, the Croydon Partnership, which is responsible for overall planning, the Greater London Authority (GLA), and the Minister for London Greg Hands, with backing from the area’s three local MPs.
Leader of Croydon Council Tony Newman said he was delighted that developers had been granted approval to commence the works.
He said the plans marked confidence in the town as a place to invest.
“This is fantastic news for Croydon and we have been doing everything we can to bring the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre to fruition so local people can benefit from its wealth of offerings, including the creation of 7,000 new jobs,” he added.
“The new homes and the thousands of jobs this development will bring shows investors are rightly confident about Croydon as a place to live, work and spend free time.”
Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central, tweeted that Croydon is one of the most exciting places to live in London right now – with Boxpark, the Fairfield halls development, street art, huge musical talent and Tech City.
She added: “The one piece of the jigsaw that we have all been working towards is for is the town centre to become the vibrant heart of Croydon once again.”
“We have the largest young population in London and this will create thousands of job opportunities, setting our young people up for a bright future” – Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central
There are already Westfield shopping centres in Shepherd’s Bush, which opened in 2008, and Stratford, which opened in 2011.
Australian retail giant Westfield is teaming up with developers Hammerson for the scheme.
Martin Corney, chief executive of The Whitgift Foundation, said it was a momentous decision for Croydon’s future.
He claimed it would create one of the UK’s top 10 shopping and entertainment destinations.
“This is also significant for the Foundation to secure our future funding so that more children can attend our schools, as well as offering increased care and support to older people and the borough’s carers who are looking after a friend or relative,” he added.
London’s original Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush is currently undergoing a 740,000 sq ft expansion, which will make it the largest shopping centre in Europe when it opens in March 2018.
As well as being home to typical high street stores like Top Shop, the Westfield centres contain luxury brands and an array of dining establishments like Bill’s, Jamie’s Italian and Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
DealMakerz thinks if the Croydon centre brings new restaurants to the borough, it’s bound to prove a hit among the locals.
It will also help to boost the area’s attractiveness among first-time buyers and home movers.