Go East: Unlocking the potential of Croydon’s transport hub

By - Monday 25th February, 2013

Tom Lickley spills the beans on the Masterplan for East Croydon station and the rest of Croydon’s transport infrastructure.

In my last article I noted the impact of the passenger bridge development at East Croydon station and the associated path into the centre of town. In this article, I’ll explain how the other work taking place at the station and the general Masterplan for the area fits into the prevailing theory of the station – that an excellent transport hub is vital to a location’s prospects.

In the near future, we can expect a more efficient and ‘cleaner’ area both outside the main entrance of East Croydon and within the main terminal. The plans note the possibility of adding an extra bus platform by filling in the underused subway on Addiscombe Road. Should this occur (and this is by no means a certainty) it should create much needed extra space for evening commuters, as anyone who has been forced to join the back of the queue after a long day at work can testify. Interestingly, the plans also suggest the space directly in front of No. 1 Croydon (the NLA/50p/Threepenny bit building to most) will be used to extend the square and create a greater public space. Integrating the tower, an icon of Croydon whether you love it or hate it, into a public area is a good way of opening up this part of town and may make the building itself more welcoming, should you be in the ‘hate it’ camp.

Photo by Peter G TrimmingAnother development taking place is a general ‘decluttering’ of the station, which will include moving the passenger gates towards the main entrance, easing congestion from the platform ramps at busy times and creating space for extra barriers, provision for seating within the station and removing unnecessary signage. The main ambition here is to connect the station with the square outside – it is trying to get people to think of East Croydon station as not just the terminal itself as now, but the tram stops, the bus stations and the potential square outside No. 1 Croydon as the station. Imagine there being a single roof above all the areas listed; this is the ambition to make East Croydon an open space with the different transport hubs better integrated with each other, improving connections and once again the improving the ‘feel’ of the area. This is a phrase I’ve used quite often when describing regeneration developments within Croydon so far; in essence, it means the ease of moving between different areas, the security you feel while doing so and the identity of the station as a single transport hub rather than a railway station, tram stop and bus stop next to each other.

This is important in the wider context of Croydon and of East Croydon maintaining its status as an important hub for transport connections in South London and south of London. There are several theories noting the importance of transport hubs to towns (I’d encourage you to read the book ‘Cities on Rails’ for great depth on this topic). Obviously, stations are people’s main gateway into town and therefore can define people’s opinion of an area. This has been an underlying theory since the development of railways – look at the extravagant Victorian designs for railway stations, such as Paddington and St Pancras stations. In recent years, across Europe and the world cities have used regeneration or building of transport hubs as a way of attracting investment. Berlin for instance, following the reunification of Germany and the city itself, has invested in regeneration of its railway station (Alexanderplatz) which, in relation to Croydon, has been developed to integrate with a new public space. Many countries use airport development to attract people and investment to the area. East Croydon should be no less ambitious in its plans for the stations’ relationship with the town.

A smaller scale version of the development at London Bridge station for instance will open up East Croydon as an area for shopping, office activity and residential areas. Whilst I have noted before that Croydon needs to be more than just a stop off between Gatwick and central London, it does still need to at least maintain this role in addition to others, and maintaining good transport links is essential to this, if we are to attract businesses such as Amazon. Hammerfield will be a wasted development if East Croydon cannot handle large numbers of visitors or is an unpleasant experience to use – this is just as important as the experience of the shopping centre itself. If Ruskin Square and the proposed office development along Cherry Orchard Road are successful, this will put further pressure on East Croydon to handle passengers and provide a good experience of the station. Whilst the developments taking place at the station are good for the current capacity, the slight concern is whether the station has the potential to accept an even greater number of passengers during busy times. However, the longer term plans for the station – extra platforms, moving the ticket office and demolition of the Royal Mail building to create even greater space – suggest we should trust that East Croydon station is in good hands for the foreseeable future.

Tom Lickley

Tom Lickley

Contributing a variety of roles to the Citizen since early 2013, Tom now focuses upon regeneration, urbanism and real estate writing. He is a strategic communications consultant specialising in the real estate sector, and counts a number of the world's largest investment and fund management companies amongst his clients.

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  • AJ

    Hi Tom, I am faced with an impossible task for getting an office space for 4-5 interns for my tech startups, Yuave.com. The challenge is to get this space at little to no cost for first 4-5 months. Any ideas how to get this in East Cryodon area?

  • Tom Lickley

    Hi AJ – I think your best bet is to contact either the council, http://www.allaboutcroydon.co.uk/, or take a look here http://www.estatesgazette.com/propertylink/browse/offices-croydon-to_let.htm. It’s certainly worth getting in touch with Jonny Rose, the go-to guy for Croydon Tech City if you haven’t already. It may be tough finding something for a low cost for a short period however. I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with one of the above however. Hope this helps!