Croydon Council Planning Committee approves Westfield in unanimous vote


By - Friday 17th November, 2017

On Tuesday night, the Planning Committee approved a revised plan for the town’s Westfield shopping centre


Councillors watch a presentation concerning the Westfield shopping centre
Photo by David Marino Jr for the Croydon Citizen.

The Croydon Council Planning Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday night to approve a Westfield shopping centre and surrounding buildings for development in Fairfield.

The new complex, which developers are aiming to open in 2022, will include shops, leisure facilities, and restaurants, among other new locations that supporters hope will rejuvenate Croydon’s town centre for years to come.

It is estimated to bring a total investment of over £1.4 billion pounds to the town centre, create thousands of new jobs, and 967 new housing units, 193 of which will be sold as affordable Discount Market Rent units.

There never seemed to be any doubt that the council would approve the long-awaited development

Speaking in front of a packed public gallery of spectators, the committee deliberated over matters that could make the centre more consumer-friendly, such as charging points for electric cars in the parking lot, and child-friendly areas in the complex.

A few council members seemed to be concerned that there were still so many details as of yet undecided, including councillor Joy Prince.

“I do appreciate with a scheme like this you have to have very often go with outline permission… but after all this time to not even know whether you are going to have four towers or five?” Prince said.

However, there never seemed to be any doubt that the council would approve the long-awaited development. When it was approved unanimously, there seemed to be little surprise, either from the council or the public.

The only vehement opposition present at the meeting came from local resident and Citizen contributor Sean Creighton.

Creighton said the main question was whether the new construction would make the town centre more attractive

Creighton, who said he was also speaking on behalf of Andrew Kennedy and Mark Samuel, disputed the notion that the plan would help Croydon Town Centre.

Creighton said the main question was whether the new construction would make the town centre more attractive, voicing scepticism about the “economic viability” of the affordable housing and the nature of the jobs created.

“It’s offering very little in the way of benefits to the town centre,” Creighton said.

John Burton, Head of Development for Westfield, heralded the plan

Creighton also said that the new construction and demolition process could take the “heart” out of the town centre, which Creighton caused could potentially cause an increase in crime.

John Burton, Head of Development for Westfield, heralded the plan, saying that among other positives, it had the potential to bring large-scale investment to in and around Croydon.

Burton also emphasized the importance that the centre would have to young people.

Burton also emphasized the importance that the centre would have to young people

“The next generation is more concerned about experiences and how they share those experiences,” Burton said. “That will be an incredibly important feature in making this relevant.”

Niall McNevin, who said he has worked in regeneration for more than three decades as a town planner, said he was very pleased about the unanimous vote.

“This is a decision which is a major step forward for the whole health of the subregion and Croydon as a settlement,” McNevin said.

Reached for comment after the vote, Planning Committee Chair Paul Scott was more than happy about the unanimous vote, emphasizing the positive changes it will bring to the centre.

“This will make a huge difference, not only to the Whitgift Shopping Centre but to the whole town,” Scott said. (It will) make it a real destination place again, somewhere that will have not just shopping, but dining, leisure, and all sorts of opportunities. Plus it’s adding more homes.”

“Let’s get going”

Scott urged developers to get going on the project so those benefits could be realized as soon as possible.

“We’re just now urging the developers to get on with it,” Scott said. “Let’s get going.”

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

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  • http://www.croydontransitiontown.org.uk Andrew Kennedy

    You seem to miss understand the role of objections in planning applications. Yes it is possible to try and condemn outright an application with an objection such as the massing is too great but this was not the aim in this case, at least for me. You make an objection to get a planner or the designers to look again at a matter of detail. In this case, one objection was to the introduction of two new sets of traffic lights along Wellesley Road but because of the dazzling building application (in outline) this detail went by essentially unnoticed. Some of us think that this should have been examined more closely. You may not have noticed this detail but sure as eggs is eggs you will notice the increased traffic along Wellesley Road when the scheme is introduced. Too late then.