February in brief

By - Tuesday 3rd March, 2015

As this month’s Croydon Citizen news magazine hits the streets of Croydon, we summarise the biggest news stories from last month

St George’s Walk becomes curated zone for street art

RISE Gallery’s Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison invited artists from Femme Fierce, an all-female collective, to paint murals across shutters and disused shopfronts in the dilapidated shopping mall. On 15th February, a day of public work was undertaken, receiving press attention and popular acclaim from visitors. Zuchowski-Morrison plans to continue using the area as a curated space.

Defaced street art repaired within days

Less than ten days after their initial painting, more than thirty of the Femme Fierce murals were defaced by taggers. After initial outcry from members of the public and local government officials, a groundswell of support from artists – both local and from further afield – translated into a new series of murals repairing and complementing the defaced Femme Fierce works. Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison was also able to make contact with the individuals responsible for the tagging, and has agreed a ‘truce’. The taggers claimed not to have known the area was curated, and have agreed not to treat the space as a ‘free-for-all’. The murals can still be seen in St George’s Walk, and will change over time.

Chancellor of the Exchequer announces support for Croydon ‘growth zone’

George Osborne made the announcement as part of his six-point economic plan for London. It follows initial indications of support in the chancellor’s autumn statement. The growth zone, which could see locally generated taxes spent on the delivery of a £5.25bn regeneration programme, is projected to bring 23,500 new jobs, and 8,000 homes to the town centre by 2031. Croydon Council has been lobbying for government to devolve powers to control local tax revenues for some time, and council leader Tony Newman said he was ‘delighted’ by the chancellor’s support.

South Croydon and Crystal Palace Tramlink extensions ruled out – for now

Sharon Thompson, director of Tramlink, took part in a Twitter Q&A last month and was asked by the Croydon Advertiser whether an extension down the Brighton Road to the South End restaurant quarter was being considered. She replied “Feasibility work was done years ago, there are currently no plans for this project”. The much-talked about extension to Crystal Palace was also brought up, but its likelihood was played down by Thompson. A design is said to exist, but a business case and funding have yet to materialise.

Whitgift Trust’s ‘final’ appeal against Hammerfield development rejected

The Whitgift Trust, which has been fighting to present the redevelopment of North End’s Whitgift Centre, has run out of options. The Court of Appeal has declined to allow the trust to appeal the High Court’s decision to dismiss its claim for a judicial review of planning permission, reported the Advertiser. Council leader Tony Newman said that the decision “confirms that planning processes were followed correctly when granting permission and leaves both the planning permission and conservation area consent intact”. The trust’s legal challenge, which was responsible for the delay in the planned opening of ‘Westfield Croydon’ (name pending) to 2019, is now over.

30% of people in Croydon North earn less than the living wage

A Freedom of Information Act request by the TUC produced evidence that nearly one in three workers in the Croydon North constituency were earning less than the living wage of £9.15 per hour. The same is true of 28.2% of people in Croydon South and just 19.8% in Croydon Central. For context, the national average for people earning less than the living wage is 21%.

New police officers for New Addington

After promising to increase police presence in Fieldway and New Addington, the council’s Labour administration has confirmed that two new officers will begin work on the New Addington estate on 1st April. This will bring the total to six fully warranted officers. The two new officers will be part-funded by the council, but the Croydon Advertiser reported that there are no current plans to purchase additional officers anywhere else in the borough.

Croydon Visitor Centre to close

The Centre, which is run by Croydon Business Improvement District, has been open since 2008 and will close in May. It currently helps tourists and visitors to Croydon – as well as regular commuters – with travel information, Oyster card sales and events listings for the borough. The site of the centre is now being reclaimed by the developers of Ruskin Square, who own the land, and there are no plans for the Centre to reopen elsewhere in the town.

Boxpark to open in Croydon

Taking over the site which will be vacated by the Croydon Visitor Centre and the CeX store next to East Croydon, the ‘trendy’ retail outlet registered ‘Boxpark Croydon’ with Companies House in December 2014. Stanhope and Schroders, who are building the £1 billion Ruskin Square development, are to house the latest branch of the Shoreditch favourite. Taking its name from the fact its first branch was made out of shipping containers, Boxpark houses London brands as well as international names including Puma and Nike.

STEM Academy Croydon Gateway cancelled

A free school in the former South Norwood Police Station, planned to teach 16-19 year olds STEM subjects, has been cancelled. The STEM Academy Trust made the decision after declaring it was “unable to commit the level of resource required”. A council spokesperson reassured the more than fifty students who had applied for places that they would have somewhere to study in September: “Although Croydon has a very high demand for school places, there is capacity within the current post-16 provision. We are therefore very confident young people in Croydon will not be left without a post-16 place as a consequence of the withdrawal of the STEM Academy”.

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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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