Old town, new ideas: The master plan, part 1

By - Friday 26th July, 2013

Wes Baker reports on his hopes and the developing plans for Croydon’s old town

It’s June 20th and Allies and Morrison present a series of ideas for the old town master plan at Matthews Yard. Having taken part in the ideas workshop, I arrived excited to see which of the ideas had been taken forward. For a very visual person like me, it was very heavy on text and somewhat lacking in 3D rendered images superimposed onto the key locations. To be fair, each key area had a map of the location demonstrating how changes would, or more accurately could, be made. The idea of Allies’ and Morrison’s work which will be on display for two weeks is to give Croydonians a few options to then choose from then give feedback as to which they like if any at all.

The great thing about the launch evening of the master plan was the amount of people who not only came to see what might happen, but those wanting to engage me and others in conversation. This included staff who, despite the amount of time that had passed, actually remembered me from the workshop, friends and fellow citizen contributor Liz Sheppard-Jones, and a local who recognised me from our days attending the CSEP. The night felt very warm, inviting, and personal, in contrast to other presentations for regeneration in town. The one problem I found was having intended to come and stay for maybe twenty minutes and head off I ended up staying for almost three hours, during very little of which I got to read and absorb what the plans were.  There was a lot of passion and people asking what you think of this and that.

On arrival my first conversation was with Vincent Lacouvara, who went through the ideas outlined for the vacant house of Reeves island plot. There are three options: two would see it stay as an island, and the third is what I described as a peninsula.  The road would be removed and paved over, attaching the island to the end of Church Street. Traffic approaching from Drummond Road would turn right instead of continuing straight ahead over the tram tracks. One option would be to use the island/peninsula as a series of temporary sports courts with more public space.  This definitely had my seal of approval and nods of heads when I likened it to the work that has been done to create Windrush Square in Brixton town centre.

I truly believe we are here to make our mark as the Victorians did with the architecture and engineering they left us with

The Minster area would see its church hall replaced with a modern equivalent, a new visitor centre, a café, and the removal of the ramp to the tunnel under Roman Way. With a café I picture people stopping, getting comfy and it becoming a destination point. Currently unless you attend the minster the area is lacking in such a place.

There was a lot to take in detailing ideas for new cycle routes, alterations to traffic flow, and restoration of shop frontages. I explained ideas I had for a key area which I was told I should show the team. It would be nice to see the new buildings around the minster be modern and not replicas of a bygone era. I truly believe we are here to make our mark as the Victorians did with the architecture and engineering they left us with. Let’s follow the city of Bath, use the same stone as the minster but interpret it in a modern way. What we like about period architecture is the character, proportions, materials, quality – or more the perceived level of quality. This can be achieved in modern architecture. Maybe this is personal taste but I see this in Saffron square, unlike any other modern architecture in Croydon I have noticed a variety of people over its construction stop to point, gaze, smile, and even take a picture.

Overall I believe the attendees I spoke to were very happy with the proposals. At the ideas workshop we had been encouraged to write, draw, and place stickers on maps of the old town area. The general consensus on what should be done to the old town was largely the same and work that came out of this session had been scanned and placed on one of the boards. One local resident I spoke to was delighted to have noticed that they actually listened. I promise to visit the exhibition again as there was a lot to take in and a lot more to divulge about the ideas for our old town.



Street photographer, 1st of the Frohicans and Croydon's No.1 fan according to my parents. I graduated in Transport Design at Coventry University summer 2012 and made my way back to the town I love to continue working on my Croydon facebook page. I eventually met some of the other local creatives with the same enthusiasm and soon knew it was my mission to engage with and hopefully help to get the word out about the creative potential and future of Croydon.

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  • Anne Giles

    Nice one.