Overlooked in the build-up to the election last week came some news in the trade press that could prove more significant to Croydon’s future event than the £1 billion Hammersfield development. Who would have thought at any time over the last eight years or so that it would be a bunch of bankers helping out Croydon?
Stanhope and Schroders, the owners of the Ruskin Square site next to East Croydon, are in “advanced” negotiations with Metro Bank to become the anchor tenant for the office block on the prestigious gateway site into the town centre.
The proposal to move Metro Bank’s national HQ offices from Holborn would see them take 150,000 sq ft of office space – one of the largest Croydon office lettings on record.
Estates Gazette reported last week: “The bank is close to agreeing a deal for the majority of the 180,000 sq ft first phase at the 2.5 million sq ft scheme, where quoting rents are £35 per sq ft.”
Another trade publication, CoStar, suggests that Croydon is on a shortlist of three locations being considered by Metro Bank, the others including Westfield’s Stratford development, as well as another site beside the Olympic Park in east London.
“A pre-let to Metro at Croydon Gateway would be a major shot in the arm for a scheme that over the years has been held back by various issues, most notably a long-running stand-off between developers as Croydon council battled to house a major arena on the site, and subsequently the property downturn,” CoStar reported.
Metro began trading in 2010, becoming Britain’s first new high street bank for 150 years. It has a few more than 30 branches nationwide, including one which is open seven days per week within the Centrale shopping centre on North End, Croydon.
The £500 million plans for Ruskin Square include 625 homes, 100,000 sq ft of shops, cafes and restaurants and 1.2m sq ft of offices, to be provided in five blocks built to between seven and 15 storeys high. The developers have also suggested that they might include a new Warehouse Theatre within the scheme if Croydon Council refunds their £3million grant for the purpose, which was “reallocated” by the previous Conservative administration at the Town Hall.
Schroders and Stanhope hope to begin construction of the first speculative offices at Ruskin Square this summer. CoStar reports they are to appoint Make as architect to draw up detailed plans for Building 2 – a 250,000 sq ft office block.
The nine acres former coal merchants’ site has lain derelict for decades. Following lengthy and expensive public inquiries over ownership and use of the landmark location, the development of the extensive site down the western side of the platforms of East Croydon Station stalled for the best-part of a decade, as the developers struggled to find a business willing to commit to taking up a large portion of the office space they wanted to build.
Promises to bring government departments to central Croydon, made by local Tory MP Gavin Barwell five years ago, have yet to materialise, although Whitehall is reported to be considering again large-scale relocation to Croydon.
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