Westfield and Hammerson’s £1bn redevelopment of Croydon’s Whitgift Centre has been approved by Croydon Council.

Westfield and Hammerson’s plans to redevelop Croydon’s Whitgift Centre were approved last night at a meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee, which is dedicated entirely to the Croydon Partnership’s proposal.

It marks a significant step forward in shopping centre developer Westfield’s plans for the town centre, which involve transforming it into a 1.5 million sq ft retail and leisure hub. The plans will also provide new car parking and up to 600 new residential units, including affordable housing.

Director of development John Burton at Westfield, which owns the Stratford City and Westfield London shopping centres, said: “We believe that our proposed £1bn investment into the transformation of Croydon’s shopping and leisure offer has the potential to act as a major catalyst for the wider physical and social regeneration of the town. The support we received from the council this evening further strengthens that belief.”

The application will now be considered by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Designs for the scheme will be unveiled during 2014 and a start on site is expected in 2015. The aim is for the centre to be finished by Christmas 2017.

Hammerson chief investment officer Peter Cole said:  “Our scheme will re-establish Croydon as the retail destination of south London, which will attract further investment and development. Our goal is to deliver a world-class retail and leisure destination to attract new visitors to the town and ensure Croydon regains its status as a thriving town centre.”

The planning approval is part of the Partnership’s plans to also regenerate the nearby Centrale shopping centre, which has planning permission.

The scheme will also plough £30m into local transport improvements and employment and training benefits to ensure its local population and its young people benefit from 5,000 jobs it will create.

Councillor Mike Fisher, leader of Croydon Council, said: “Today’s resolution to approve Westfield and Hammerson’s planning application is a very important day for Croydon. We are committed to ensuring that the town’s regeneration projects provide a lasting positive impact for Croydon and future generations.”