Over the years when thinking of Central Croydon I am sure the majority of people (even those living in the area) would have mainly negative thoughts-thankfully times are changing and Croydon’s reputation is changing for the better! We are now living in a time where Croydon is not primarily associated with the past negatives such as the 2011 riots and fires, boozy student culture and the infamous ‘Croydon Face-Lift’ hairstyle-Croydon is now making its mark for all the right reasons!
The term ‘Croydon Face-Lift’ referred to a hairstyle worn by local females, which involved hair being pulled into a tight, high, pony tail causing facial features to be taut, therefore resulting in a face-lift type effect. This term has now been turned on its head, no pun intended. Looking around Central Croydon now you cannot help but see the construction work currently going on in the area-the Croydon Face-Lift is in full swing! Whether it be regeneration projects, new build housing developments or leisure and shopping complexes the face of Croydon is changing, dramatically! Here we look in greater detail at a few of the construction projects currently being delivered in Croydon, recently completed and in the pipeline.
The iconic Fairfield Halls is located a short 5 minute walk away from East Croydon Station and after closing in June 2016, is currently undergoing a £30 million makeover, the transformation is set to be complete in 2018. Fairfield Halls was built upon the historic ‘Fair Field’, the site of a well-known fair. Fairfield Halls was opened by the Queen Mother in 1962 containing a concert hall, theatre and gallery and playing host to a number of huge names over the years. In 2012 Fairfield Halls celebrated its 50th birthday with celebrations including a concert by the London Mozart Players. The makeover on the site, once complete, will boast a revamped 1,800 seat concert hall, 20,000 sq ft art gallery, a new college, homes (many of which will fall under the affordable homes category), shops, offices and public spaces! With the demolition phase of this transformation now finished, Croydon Councils Development Company Brick by Brick have enlisted VINCI Construction UK to complete this project and see it through to completion and the grand reopening next year.
Back in December 2011 Boxpark was introduced to Shoreditch, East End of London. The idea is the brain child of entrepreneur Roger Wade who wanted to create an environment that combines eating, drinking, shopping and socialising but with a twist, this twist is that the structure is made up of shipping containers. Over 5 years on Boxpark Shoreditch is still a massive hit so in March 2015 it was announced Croydon would be the ideal spot for their newest pop-up shop location, and in October 2016 we welcomed its presence with open arms just a stone’s throw away from East Croydon Station! Boxpark has added a totally new dynamic to Croydon with its mouth-watering array of food hot-spots such Meat Liquor, The Breakfast Club and Greek on the Street, hosting of live music events and much more. With its location so close to the station transport links to and from Boxpark are excellent, also with the recent opening of Ruskin Square Car Park a 5 minute walk away accessibility should never be an issue! Boxpark may not appeal to everyone but it certainly has people talking about Croydon!
In 2013 planning permission was secured by Westfield and UK partner Hammerson’s to build a £1.4 billion shopping centre in Croydon. Westfield and Hammerson forced a joint venture, called The Croydon Partnership to complete this development by 2022. As of yet no work has started on this project due to a number of issues, but it is believed the main demolition and construction work will commence in 2018. Westfield’s director of development John Burton has stated that in terms of size the Croydon site will be bigger than both Stratford and West London! The plans that have been submitted include 1.4 million sq foot of leisure facilities, including an IMAX cinema, retail and office space as well as a housing development, with the shopping centre set to be 3 storeys high. Originally, in the plans it was stated there would be 400-600 new homes being built on the site, this may now be increased to up to 1,000 properties! With Westfield coming to town it will create 5,000 job opportunities as well as provide more housing options for residents and those who would like to come and live in Croydon.
With the newly completed construction projects in Croydon, works currently going on and with what is in the pipeline, the face and reputation of the area as a whole is improving! The introduction of new residential developments, redevelopments of existing landmarks, new and exciting projects coming to town as well as work done to make the area look more vibrant and appealing Croydon has come a long way.
As well as the completed and ongoing construction works putting Croydon firmly on the map, the area is making its mark as a Tech Hub. According to the Office for National Statistics Croydon Tech City is London’s fastest growing tech ecosystem and is home to over a 1,000 digital, technical and creative start-ups. The main reasons start-ups are choosing Croydon are down to the excellent transport links, Central London and Gatwick are easily accessible and also Grade A office space is the cheapest within the M25!
Croydon still has a way to go but is heading in the right direction and making its mark for more positive reasons, which looks set to continue.