Croydon’s SEGAS House: a listed building under threat

By - Monday 5th May, 2014

Sean Creighton considers the options for a notable town centre building’s future – and finds them all lacking

SEGAS House on Park Lane – Grade II listed because of its Art Deco features. Photograph by Liz Sheppard-Jones

As Croydon prepares for the Westfield/Hammerson development, the impact such a huge retail development will have is becoming a hot topic. Westfield has sold three of its regional shopping centres to build up its funds for Croydon. There’s no doubt that what’s coming our way is very big indeed and will make its presence felt in a greatly-altered heart of the town centre.

Royal College of Art student Stephanie Crombie is one of a group working with English Heritage to consider future uses for listed buildings at risk across the country. She is particularly interested in the future of SEGAS House on Park Lane, Central Croydon – just over the road from the Fairfield Halls. It’s a building with a surprisingly low profile, given that it’s grade II listed because of its striking art deco design.

Where is the option to preserve something beautiful?

Stephanie Crombie considers four options for the building:

 • A link with the Westfield retail centre involving the partial demolition of SEGAS House

 • An iconic building on the site, making a statement about Croydon as a global city

 • A building showcasing ‘green city’ initiatives

 • A tech school in a futuristic new building

As I see it, Croydon is therefore being asked to choose between:

 • Inevitable Westfield take-over – and it makes a great carpark

 • A high-rise ‘prestige’ building – jack it up to the sky

 • Global environmental concerns rather than local needs

 • Becoming the new hi-tech hub for London

But where is the option to preserve a beautiful Croydon building – whatever the future holds?

SEGAS House was mentioned as needing to be brought back into use in the council’s Mid-Croydon Master Plan but with no details of how to do so. Given the council’s abandonment of the proposed enhancement of Queen’s Gardens, I am cautious about the suggestion.

Instead, I would like to see the transfer of SEGAS House to a community trust dedicated to preserving the building for beneficial community uses.

It’s difficult to take a proposed primary school on the SEGAS site seriously

Last year Croydon Council sought bidders to open a new 3-form entry primary school on this site, and the Oasis Academy Group has expressed interest. Given the pollution level there, traffic noise, lack of sports facilities and playground space, safe parental pick-up and drop-off (a primary school is being proposed, with twice-daily collections for hundreds of children), pupil safety and the increased burden on public transport, it is difficult to believe the proposal is serious.

The imperative need for outdoor space was clearly an issue with the proposed Norbury Advance Free School at the former Age Concern HQ on London Road – now moved to a site involving playing fields. I also consider Oasis’s Christian bias is inappropriate in our multi-cultural borough.

Croydon Council has failed to plan for schools

Given the proposed increase in residential living in Central Croydon, a new primary school will definitely be needed. In its obsession with maximising the profits of private developers, Croydon Council has failed to plan for schools in the central area – but that doesn’t make SEGAS House the right place.

I now want to see a wide debate on the future of the building, not just through Stephanie Crombie’s website but including the wider community. I offer the following suggestions :

 • An industrial and crafts heritage centre such as that proposed for the Nine Elms/Vauxhall area.

 • Small business units

 • A voluntary sector hub

 • An arts centre hub

Let the debate begin.

Sean Creighton

Sean Creighton

A former employee of and freelance project worker with community and voluntary organisations, Sean is active with Croydon Assembly and with the Planning and Transport Committee of the Love Norbury group of residents associations. He is Chair of the Norbury Community Land Trust. He is a historian of Croydon and South-West London, British black society, social action and the labour movement. He coordinates the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History networks. He runs blog sites covering Croydon, Norbury and history events, issues and news. He runs a small scale publishing imprint called History & Social Action Publications. He gives talks on a range of history topics and leads history walks.

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  • David Callam

    The building is an eyesore. Demolish it and grass the area over as partial compensation for the extra slice of Queens Gardens the council has perloined to make the CCURV figures balance.

  • Rosie E

    I completely agree about how ill-suited the building would be for a Primary school.. but I’m not sure the fact that you “consider Oasis’s Christian bias is inappropriate in our multi-cultural borough” has to do with the buildings /practicalities topic.

  • Segas Offices

    My project is a work in progress, which is archieving it’s purpose through this newsletter.

    By proposing alternative scenarios about the SEGAS offices – a conversation has begun around the future of this building.

    I am personally FOR the technological primary school. It’s a great opportunity to Croydon to pioneer a new means of learning with technological integration.

    For more information please see:


  • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

    I really like the idea of Segas House becoming a building for the community as well as having an emphasis on tech. I really can’t see how the building is an eyesore unless being vacant constitutes automatic eyesore. I’ve always thought if anything even as it stands today its the most beautiful and timeless design on of any of the buildings from delta point up to that mirrored building across the rd from Fairfield Halls.

    • Nick Wagner

      I agree. I’ve always loved the SEGAS building. Not least of all because I and a schoolfriend were soaked by Lenny the Lion’s tears there one day in about 1960. God, Terry Hall was a bad ventriloquist; his toupe wasn’t up to much either.

  • Gemma Johnson

    I would like to see a night market with local artists such as bands / singers / painters etc. At other times a community hub such as @wesleyjordananthonybaker:disqus mentioned. Lastly much more arts such as interactive cinema screenings like a SIng-A-Long-A / secret cinema.