Croydon: connected, capable and confident. Unrecognisable?

A press release whizzes across the desk here at Inside Croydon Towers. We weren’t sent it directly, but hey ho….

The release was sent apparently on behalf of Develop Croydon, the organisation of big retailers and developers with multi-million pound financial interests in central Croydon.

We know that Develop Croydon is a loose alliance of some of the biggest business interests active in Croydon: Hammerson, Menta, Schroder Investment Management and Stanhope, and the John Laing joint venture with the council over the URV, also known as the £450 million Hub.

The press release, issued yesterday, announces that Develop Croydon will be attending the annual MIPIM property conference in the south of France in March.

That’s the same conference where Croydon’s £248,000 per year CEO, Jon Rouse, has attended in the past, claiming to have dossed down on a camp bed in a cheap hotel by the railway station, but which council figures suggested which nonetheless cost the Council Tax-payers £12,000.

Croydon's presence at a previous Cannes conference, including Britain's most overpaid councillor, Steve O'Connell, together with London Mayor Boris Johnson. Will they be there in 2012, representing London, Croydon or Develop Croydon?

It is not clear from the press release whether Develop Croydon will be attending this annual jolly in addition to or instead of Croydon Council.

But according to their press release, when in Cannes, Develop Croydon will be  representing “the borough’s interests”. We have carried out a thorough search, but no where can we find any candidates for “Develop Croydon”, Menta, Hammersons or any of the others ever being elected to Croydon Council, nor accountable in any manner to anyone other than their shareholders. Maybe the democratic process in Croydon is an irrelevance?

The press release’s description of Croydon is a fascinating insight into what the speculators and developers see to be the future for the area. We reproduce the press release in its entirety here (with some notes, in bold and square brackets). Decide whether it describes a Croydon that you recognise.

January 24th 2012

Companies to showcase Croydon’s huge potential at MIPIM

(Virtual Press Office) – Big name companies are uniting to demonstrate how Croydon is “Connected, Capable and Confident” to potential investors.

The private sector consortium, working under the Develop Croydon brand, will strike deals with the most influential real estate professionals at international property trade fair MIPIM 2012 in Cannes, France, from March 6 to 9.

They will be sending out the positive message about the town’s huge investment potential to continue the growing momentum which will bring about a transformation in Croydon’s fortunes over the next few years.

This is the second year that Develop Croydon will have represented the borough’s interests at the event and they will highlight Croydon’s outstanding connectivity and investment opportunity as well as showcasing the regeneration schemes and developments scheduled to be delivered over the next few years.

They will also highlight the massive progress that has been made in the last 12 months [really? Such as the riots? IYLO? Nestle’s withdrawal?]. A wave of new construction is under way on a number of key sites including a pedestrian bridge that will link East Croydon railway station with the town centre [and we thought George Street was still open], a new public service delivery hubs [“hubs”, sic] and a major new 45-storey development of new homes and leisure facilities at Saffron Square. In addition, work has been completed on a multi-million pound extension of Croydon College.

Huge investment has been pledged for the town’s two major shopping centres [really? both of them? “pledged”?].

Lawrence Hutchings, Hammerson Managing Director UK Retail, said: “We have a long-term vision for retail in the town and our repositioning of Centrale is the first step in putting Croydon firmly back in the top 10 of UK retail destinations. [So Croydon was, once, in the top 10 of UK retail destinations, but it isn’t now. Is that what this release means by a “growing momentum”?]

“There is a strong retailer demand for well designed, modern retail space and our scheme offers a unique opportunity to bring new names to the town and create vibrant retail space.”

Meanwhile, Westfield recently expressed interest in making Croydon its third London destination following the success of its developments at Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford. [Ahhh… Westfield’s “expression of interest”. Different from a pledge, then. And let’s not mention the other stake-holders in the site Westfield has eyed up, and their opposition]

Croydon Council has also demonstrated its commitment to the regeneration of the town by granting planning permission for several landmark developments including: Stanhope Schroder’s scheme for Ruskin square [this press release is not only poorly written, it has barely been proof-read] featuring one million square feet of offices, apartments and leisure facilities; Menta’s mixed use scheme for Cherry Orchard Road featuring the UK’s tallest residential building and Guildhouse Rosepride’s 55-storey tower of offices and apartments at One Lansdowne Road, designed by architect Piers Gough.

Charles Walford, director of Stanhope, said: “Our business plan for investing in Croydon is simple. The public transport is excellent, it is part of greater London [so not a city in its own right, then? Oddly, the “city  status” nonsense is unmentioned], it is an existing place with an aging office stock and a large number of occupiers [rapidly reducing, of course], it has a proactive and pragmatic local authority [coughs!], it has huge retail potential and incumbent investors and developers that will make it happen.”

The Develop Croydon delegation includes CCURV, Guildhouse Rosepride LLP, Hammerson, Menta, RJ Witt Associate, Schroder Investment Management Ltd, Sinclair Clark, Stanhope plc and WT Partnership.

The private sector led approach to MIPIM was born out of the inaugural Develop Croydon conference in November 2010 from which a team of private sector companies united under the Develop Croydon banner to ensure a joined-up approach to promoting the regeneration of key locations in London’s biggest borough [the latter is a factual inexactitude, but… “to ensure a joined-up approach to promoting the regeneration of key locations”? Is this because they daren’t trust the council’s own press operation?].

The Mayor of London was headline speaker at the second Develop Croydon conference in November 2011 and Mr Johnson used that stage to announce £23million of additional funding to support its regeneration [as Croydon Councillor Tim Pollard was good enough to confirm recently, that £23 million was actually Boris’s post-riot regeneration cash. “Riot” is a word you’ll find no where in this press release. Don’t mention the riots!]


For further press information, please contact:
John Payne,
White Label Consultants,

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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