Local authority plans to regenerate Croydon have been thrown into chaos after Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson walked away from the Centrale & Whitgift Centre.


The Croydon Partnership, a joint venture struck in 2013 by institutional landlord giants Westfield and Hammerson, has walked away from the £1.4bn planned regeneration of the Centrale & Whitgift Centre after the best part of a decade’s planning. 

In a statement, the partnership said that the ongoing coronavirus crisis had only exacerbated existing issues with both the site and with retail in general. However, the two landlords said they would continue to work with Croydon council on new plans to regenerate the town centre. 

“The retail industry was already facing major challenges which have been impacted further over the past 18 months, requiring a new approach to the regeneration of Croydon,” said partnership spokesman Simon Cochrane. “We look forward to working with the council to create the Regeneration and Recovery Action Plan, which will define a new vision for the town centre that responds to the changes brought about by the pandemic and embraces the needs of the local community.” 

“Collaboration is a key part of this process and so we will ensure that local people and businesses are invited to contribute their ideas to shape the creation of a reimagined town centre.

“In the short term, the Partnership will continue to focus on Centrale & Whitgift to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for our customers, retailers and employees, with a diverse programme of immersive events and pop-ups to enhance the town centre experience.”

The death knell for the scheme was struck on Monday when a Croydon council report was published highlighting that Croydon Westfield was no longer an “appropriate or sustainable development”.

The news comes after Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson announced a review of the planned scheme in 2019 to reduce the number of shops on the scheme, adding office space and a hotel in their place.

Westfield Croydon had originally been conceived as a 200,000 sq ft mixed-use retail destination that would have created 5,000 new jobs in the Croydon area.

Yet the scheme has been plagued by delays throughout its life, with the council report noting that its abandonment might be a blessing in disguise for the area. 

It said: “Croydon on the one hand is fortunate that the 2018 development did not proceed; opening post-pandemic with an outdated operating model, but the Whitgift Centre now is very tired and requires a fresh approach away from a traditional model dominated by retail and anchored by department stores.”

The council is set to discuss the report and approve £50,000 be spent on discussing the future of the town with businesses and other stakeholders.