CROYDON COMMENTARY: Though he was not a regular at the night club, the closure of Tiger Tiger is a sad sign for the town centre, says LEWIS WHITE
It’s a shame when a business closes and leaves a hole in the High Street. At least at Croydon’s Tiger Tiger, following yesterday’s announcement of its closure, we are told that their staff will be offered jobs at the chain’s other venues.
Maybe today’s club-going youth take advantage of an excellent train service and go clubbing “Up West” (as they say on EastEnders). Or maybe they, too, are tired of scenes of early morning vomit, police having to be called, and the £7 cocktails. Or maybe they prefer to be alone with a mobile phone in their (parents’) rooms, and chatting with virtual “friends”, avoiding the need for face-to-face shouted attempts at communication across a 100 decibel wall of noise.
Maybe a quiet club, with cocoa instead of cocktails, is what they really want–which opens at 6 and shuts at midnight. and has clean toilets, sockets to recharge phones and tablets at every table, ping-pong, and a video screen to keep in Skype contact with Mum and Dad. Somewhere safe and unchallenging.
Is cocoa rather than cocktails, or clubs with creches, what Tony Newman, Croydon’s council leader, had in mind when he spoke of “a more family-friendly” night-time economy? Newman has said that Tiger Tiger had become “something of a dated brand”.
Newman said, “It’s closure very much reflects changing times.” Is he foreseeing clubs with creches?
And yet: there’s never been any complaints of “lack of footfall” – meaning customers – when illegal raves have been staged in any of the many vacant office blocks around the town centre, offering something more than over-priced drinks and the latest chart music.
The old Grants area is blighted by the massive dead-zone over the road – also known as St George’s walk. Heh! Got it! How about zombie-themed raves in St George’s? That would pull the new youth in to dear old Croydon, and give a boost to the night-time economy of hot dog vans and kebab shops.
Seriously, there must be a knock-on effect when a new shopping centre opens – just as the Whitgift Centre sounded the death knell for Grants in the 1960s. Then the Drummond Centre, latterly Centrale, added to the shopping over-capacity. So Whitgift suffered.
Even while Nestlé was fully staffed in the tower above it, St George’s Walk was always tenuous in viability. The closure of another club, never to be re-opened, the Blue Orchid, was an early sign of the decline. St George’s Walk has been on life support for years.
The Walk’s near-derelict condition will not have helped Tiger Tiger and its High Street neighbours, Black Sheep and Yates, which have also closed.
What will Westfield do to the other areas? And the shipping container Boxpark — will it bring in new shoppers, or bleed the other areas dry?
With t’internet now taking a lot of real-life shopping footfall away from the high street – and from the “Malls” – we probably have far too many shops in central Croydon, as well as the unwanted offices. Hence flats are filling up the latter.
Could we be bold, and just knock the really ugly bits down (particularly Centrale and everything behind it down the hill to the north of Crown Hill), and build a new mini-city with flats, houses and green spaces – or what others call gardens? It would get rid of a load of boring shops and create a lot of space for houses and flats for the ex-teenagers who once came to Tiger Tiger, but want to move out from the parental home (and who can blame them?).
Creativity with a wrecking ball, a bulldozer and a load of trees in central Croydon. Yep, that could do a lot of good.
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