Print Archive: November 2014 News Magazine – When?

By - Monday 22nd December, 2014

Westfield’s delay to 2019 challenged a number of assumptions about Croydon’s future. This edition of the Citizen explored what’s next

For some time now, where the future of Croydon is concerned, one topic of conversation dominates all others: “I hear Westfield is coming to Croydon”,”When Westfield comes….” or “Did you know that they’re going to build the third Westfield in Croydon? I know, right?” In a capital city who’s particular obsession with property is regarded as excessive, even in a country where property is second only to the weather as conversational ice-breaker par excellence, this is no surprise. Indeed, for it to be the main reason anyone outside Croydon’s borders should believe that Croydon even has a future, should come as no shock either: For long enough the only news that has made it out of the borough has been the bad news: stabbings, tacky hairstyles and a declining economy – all neatly, endlessly reinforced by rubbish comedians’ gags.

But the obsession with Westfield for Croydonians themselves is a more interesting phenomenon, not least for its sheer intensity. Because for many Croydonians it doesn’t merely represent a major, positive uptick in the local economy – just one more reason to make a canny house purchase – it represents a defining eschatological* moment beyond which lies a new, bright but not entirely imaginable future. A new era where everything will be different; an era of upmarket fashion brands, of endless reflective steel and glass, when people will come to Croydon from far and wide by choice to work, live and shop. A moment when everything will be turned on its head: Croydon will be an object of desire, not derision, and we will all live forever. (Not really.)

What is the effect, then, of an announcement of a delay to such a scheme – the very real revelation, last month, that Westfield would not open its doors till 2019 at the earliest? I wonder if it isn’t merely a fact to be taken onboard, but the cause of a great, and all-too-familiar existential disappointment that this second coming has, once again, failed to materialise. One followed by negative thoughts: like Park Place, the arena or countless other schemes, is this too going to die a slow death?

Perhaps not; the biggest mall developer in the world and the leading developer in the UK are both behind it. Other mega-projects like Saffron Square are already under construction and Croydon’s economic timing is spot on. But, more flippant thinking aside, it raises plenty of interesting questions for the town. Can Westfield be relied upon to deliver the regeneration that we need now when its earliest open date is, two years later, still five years away? What will retail look like by the time it opens – will it still make sense? Should we be looking to property anyway, or is that a snare and a delusion if we really want a better place to live? It is these questions, and many more, that this edition of the Citizen takes a particular look at.

There is, of course, plenty more besides, including the next instalment in David White’s recollections of political change in Croydon, Joy Akwue-Butler’s visit to Croydon’s number one rated restaurant, a light-hearted review of a night of drunken comedy down at the Cronx Brewery by Paul Dennis, and Nadim Lilani’s taxing but ultimately thrilling experience of a new sport: the fast and free-flowing ‘futsal’.

Download and read the PDF edition now.

*a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind.

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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