Croydon – 2014 in review

By - Wednesday 31st December, 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, the editor-in-chief looks back at the year

And so we come to the end of 2014. This year saw the council return to Labour control after eight years of Tory administration and the sudden resignation of its leader, the ‘iconic’ Saffron Square tower become the tallest building in the borough by a country mile – making it (apparently visible from North London – and Westfield… still the same time away from being opened as it was the year before. The less the said about that, the better.

It seems safe to say that 2014 was a pretty interesting one for Croydon politicos, not least for its dramatic election result – one that saw Labour form the largest council majority for a long time and areas of the borough turning red that never had before. But, otherwise, it has not been such a great year of change, and certainly not of any particular economic or cultural triumph. It could easily seem that in 2014, things were just ticking over.

But if you think that, I think you’d be pretty wrong. Because it seems to me that 2014 in Croydon has been a year of many small but important successes, of things building in the right direction, especially around culture: We saw the (real) David Lean cinema re-open after three years of tireless community campaigning; a gallery exhibiting the work of the some of the world’s greatest pop-arts opening up in St George’s walk; and theatre going from strength to strength in small venues in the town centre, like the Spread Eagle and Matthews Yard, even while we watched the poor old Warehouse theatre fall to the wrecking ball.

The same is true for Croydon’s economy. Croydon Tech City continued to build. House prices surged ahead of even London’s growth this year, pointing towards a fundamental shift in people’s confidence in Croydon as somewhere to invest or live (even if we are all still in a bubble!). We watched the Renaissance building – Croydon’s first speculatively built office building in 20 years – be finished, advertised and fully occupied in a matter of months. The message it now proudly displays to all and sundry at East Croydon? “Offices Fully Let” – a pleasing opposite to the “To let” signs we’re too used to seeing. More excitingly, work even got started on Ruskin Square, a site that has up until now served as the very worst front door for Croydon: a waste land derelict for forty years, a grim and foreboding foreground to Croydon’s ageing ’60s towers. Now it has an attractive new public square that plays hosts to regular food markets and has housing and offices springing up on either side of it; something actually nice to see when you pull in on the train. Again – all built speculatively because the signs are that Croydon is coming back.

It wasn’t plain sailing for everyone. Because as housing got less affordable, it got less affordable for the people who need it most. Like everywhere, it seems wages are pretty stagnant in Croydon and food bank use seems to be rising. And as well as these sorts of endemic issues we still face, there were plenty of other ‘one-off’ bad news stories this year too; death at the Croydon rave or the massive flooding that caused so much damage in the early part of year.

It’s certainly no time to be complacent about where we live. But it seems that things have changed, just a little: There’s a faint something in the air, something that touches lots of things, a wild and fleeting notion that things are kind of getting better.

But my advice? Don’t look right at it, or  like that – *puff* – its gone.

As always….

What you read on this site over the last year was written by ordinary people, not professional journalists. We’re always looking for new writers. If you want to tackle the big issues, highlight the things that matter or reflect on what’s really important in your community, we want to hear from you.

Perhaps your article will be here next year? Get in touch with  and it just might be.


James Naylor


Editorial team

Managing Editor – Rob Mayo

Section Editor: Politics – Tom Black

Section Editor: Culture, Community and Economics –  Liz Sheppard-Jones

Subeditor – Rajdeep Sandhu

Associate Editors – John Gass and Nadim Lilani

Happy new year!

James Naylor

James Naylor

James grew up in Coulsdon. After a brief spell in Somerset he returned to central Croydon as a useful London base. Since then however, his enthusiasm for Croydon has slowly grown into obsession – leading him to set up Croydon Tours and eventually the Croydon Citizen. James is particularly interested in the power of local media to foster new ways of thinking about communities and how to empower them. He is most interested in putting Croydon in a wider context within London, the economy and across time. During the week, he works for an advertising technology company hailing from Silicon Valley. When he’s not working on Croydon-related projects, he enjoys desperately nerdy but hugely enjoyable boardgames. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • ceiga

    Very good article. I’m surprised I’ve been the first to comment on it here.