Westfield and Hammerson’s plans to turn the Whitgift Centre in Croydon into a new £1bn retail destination have cleared another hurdle after secretary of state Greg Clark approved a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of the site.
The developers are working together to convert the tired 1960s shopping centre and the neighbouring mall Centrale into a two million square feet retail and leisure destination with 600 new homes, offices, a cinema, bowling, restaurants and cafes.
It is the latest in a line of new developments in the south London borough and forms part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s wider plans to regenerate the area, which was badly hit by the 2011 riots.
The CPO allows Croydon Council to buy the land without the consent of the owner. They are usually enforced when a development is considered to be in the public interest.
Planning minister Brandon Lewis said: “This decision allows for an ambitious £1bn redevelopment of the town centre that will transform it into a vibrant hub that people want to visit. It has the potential to bring massive benefits to local people and businesses and will ensure Croydon continues its transformation into a first-class destination.”
Westfield and Hammerson made peace in 2013 and decided to develop the centre together after a long-running feud over who would win the right to develop the 42 year-old site.
The shopping complex will be Westfield’s third in the capital after Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush. Hammerson owns north London’s main shopping centre destination at Brent Cross, which is also being expanded.
A spokesman for the Croydon Partnership, the joint venture between Westfield and Hammerson, said: "[This] decision is integral to the site assembly process that underpins Croydon Partnership’s proposals for the major retail regeneration of Croydon’s town centre and represents another important milestone towards delivering the scheme which will bring 5,000 new jobs to the area and help unlock Croydon’s enormous potential.
“We will continue to work hard to reach agreement with those affected by the redevelopment and aim to achieve negotiated settlements with the vast majority of the owners and occupiers on the site over the coming months.
"Work on the scheme is progressing well, including the detailed design and negotiating with prospective retailers.”