So Westfield is claiming 91 per cent of the people of Croydon favour its scheme for the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre.
After all, the only thing more predictable than the results of North Korean elections is a survey conducted by a multi-billion pound developer about that multi-billion pound developer’s next project.
Westfield’s claim, published on Friday, are based on some non-independent research, and taken from answers provided by just one-quarter of the people who visited their mobile freebie-distribution unit in North End two weeks ago.
So what happened to the other 3,000 people that Westfield said had visited them, yet who did not answer the company’s somewhat self-serving survey? Are we to assume that they weren’t interested? Were they 75 per cent “don’t knows”? Did they just turn up, collect their freebie bag, and toddle off, disinterested in Westfield’s wooden block model that passed for a “vision”?
We will never know.
But we are delighted that Bell Pottinger, Westfield’s PR firm, has gone to some lengths to engage with the people of Croydon, and we look forward to interviewing John Burton, Westfield’s director of development.
We have already put a series of written questions to Burton. We have yet to receive any detailed, written responses. Here are some of our questions.
Do please add your questions you’d like to have put to him in the comments section below.
At the presentation to Croydon Council, the issue of the Bradford non-development was raised, and Westfield replied that because of competition in the Yorkshire region, pre-lets could not be secured in order to green-light construction.
In the current global economic situation, what guarantees can Westfield give Croydon that it won’t be left with a monster hole in the middle of town?
And what happens to existing Whitgift Centre stores during the development?
Spitalfields and Liverpool One seem to suggest a shift in the style of retail developments, away from the 1990s massive sheds, towards more human-scale, street-based, eclectic and independent traders within a “development”. Westfield’s proposal for Croydon appears to be… another massive shed.
What’s the justification for this step back in time?
Allders? What’s the proposals for this traditional Croydon store, or its site?
Marks & Spencer? What’s the status of their store? Our understanding is that they hold the freehold. How will your plans accommodate them?
John Lewis? Much is being made of bringing John Lewis to the table. What guarantees have you secured that John Lewis will be part of your design for Croydon?
What other anchor tenants have you secured?
What other anchor tenants are you seeking?
What additional facilities, amenities and utilities are Westfield offering in return for being given planning permission for such a massive site?
What do you propose for the general public areas around the site?
What would you expect to be provided by the local authority?
What have you proposed or requested from Transport for London?
What makes you think Croydon needs another Multiplex cinema? Or a bowling alley? Don’t these offers demonstrate a lack of imagination in the scheme so far presented?
What plans do you have for improving the environment and access at Wellesley Road? What is your expectation of Croydon Council and public funding in this respect?
The Whitgift Foundation
Can you describe how the relationship with the Foundation was forged? Who was involved in the discussions?
Tell us about the visit of Foundation representatives to Australia last year.
Has Westfield made any donations to the Foundation (please detail how much and when)?
Given the disagreement between the leaseholders (IBRC/RLAM) and the freeholder, how do you see a resolution emerging?
How would a lengthy compulsory purchase process affect your plans? What happens in the interim three years?
There is a strong rumour that the Mayor of London may accede to Hammerson’s request for planning permission at Brent Cross in exchange for their withdrawal from their interest in Croydon. How was this brokered?
If you can persuade IBRC to sell, is Westfield’s 75% stake in the lease (assuming the 25% Whitgift stake is acquired), enough to proceed?
Why are Westfield’s proposals better than Hammerson’s?
Does Westfield broadly agree with DTZ’s valuation of the Whitgift leases?
Can you confirm that DTZ’s valuation (October 2011) of IBRC’s 50 per cent stake in the lease was about £143 million (as reported by Bloomberg News)?
How many bedrooms are proposed? How many stars? Who would operate it?
Your plans so far are quite vague. You suggest “between” 400 and 600 apartments, which seems quite a variation. Why?
What is the likely pricing of the 600 proposed flats?
How many of the flats will have more than two bedrooms?
How many of the proposed flats will be “affordable”?
How many car parking spaces will be provided for the flats?
We notice that you are now promising 5,000 full-time jobs being created by the Westfield scheme. How have you arrived at this figure?
- A similar set of questions has also been sent to Hammerson to ask about their detailed plans for the Whitgift Centre, which they will be presenting to the council’s strategic planning committee on Thursday (click here to read the official council papers)
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