Croydon facing traffic gridlock caused by new Westfield plan

The revised plans for a gigantic supermall submitted last week by Westfield and Hammerson threaten to send central Croydon into a state of traffic gridlock for years to come.

Shape of things to come: the plans for Westfield could make queuing in the underpass routine

Shape of things to come: central Croydon along Wellesley Road is to lose more than 3,000 parking bays for at least four years. Where will all the traffic go then?

The shopping centre developers’ scheme could hit hard the plans for a refurbished Fairfield Halls, where the council has given a green light to turning its car parking space into an art gallery.

The late changes to the Hammersfield development have created a massive disconnect in the hoped-for smooth regeneration of the town centre. One of Croydon Council’s tasks was to try to minimise disruption during the redevelopment, but Hammersfield have chucked a £1.4 billion spanner in the works.

With the developers hoping (perhaps a tad optimistically) to send in the bulldozers at the old Whitgift Centre next year, they will begin demolition work around 12 months after refurbishment starts at the Fairfield Halls.

The demolitions – within one mile of each other along the urban motorway that is Wellesley Road – will see both sites completely closed down, including the respective car parks. From 2017 until 2020 (at the earliest), there could be only 250 available car parking bays where previously there was more than 3,000.

This will affect theatre-goers and concert-lovers going to the Fairfield Halls, and London-bound commuters who need somewhere to leave their cars during the day. Once what is left of the parking spaces are all taken at the Fairfield Halls, the next largest car park available until the Westfield finally opens – re-scheduled now for the end of 2020 at the earliest – will be the Centrale car park, tucked around the back of the tram loop.

"Just like school dinners, what!": Boris and Barwell tuck in at the New Cafe, which hs a 1-star hygiene rating

Two enthusiastic supporters of the Westfield carve-up of central Croydon, which is beginning to look like a right dog’s dinner

The absence of any traffic reduction measures contained within the various plans produced from the Mayor of London’s office, Transport for London and Croydon Council now threaten to create worsening gridlock in the town centre for half a decade, with car-bound visitors to Croydon having nowhere to park their vehicles.

For the duration of the closure of the Whitgift Centre, with many of its stores displaced into Centrale and elsewhere, the amount of traffic coming into Croydon may be reduced. But the lack of any real attempt to discourage car use – largely at the behest of the Hammersfield developers who want people to drive into Croydon – is already being exposed as short-sighted.

The announcement that the Fairfield Halls is to sacrifice its car parking provision for an underground art gallery, with the council suggesting that threatre-goers could instead park at the new mall, also appears half-baked. The lack of convenient car parking provision after the £30 million council-funded refurbishment may deter visitors for the crucial first three or four years after the Halls are due to re-open in 2018.

The Croydon Partnership, formed by rival mall developers Westfield and Hammerson, revealed their drastically altered and enlarged plans last week, and will be seeking council planning approval after pre-application briefings this week and in June. It is less than a year since an exhaustive Compulsory Purchase Order inquiry was staged in Croydon to clear the way for their previous scheme.

In the council’s official report on the revised Westfield and Hammerson plans for the Whitgift Centre, it says, “Demolition of all car parks on the site, with all car parking now proposed at roof level within one connected car park, rather than two separate car parks. Car parking is also now proposed above the department store. Final car parking numbers have not been confirmed and negotiations are taking place to fix the parking numbers.  The latest proposal by the developer is for a maximum of 3,140 spaces.”

Occupiers of the 1,000 flats that the developers intend to build on the site are unlikely to enjoy the best air quality, as they live beside a 3,000-space car park.

The report also highlights a bit of a flaw in Hammersfield’s cunning plan.

Under a heading of “Changes to the highway layout on Wellesley Road and Poplar Walk and vehicular access to the site”, the council officials’ report states: “The approved scheme provided for the northern access to the site off Poplar Walk.  This is now off Wellesley Road and requires a southbound right-hand turn and the introduction of a new stop line on the northbound carriageway.” Those are our italics.

It doesn’t take a town planning wizard to realise the problems which this might create on an already overcrowded road which provides a route for around a dozen buses and which is crossed by the ever-busier tram tracks.

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11 Responses to Croydon facing traffic gridlock caused by new Westfield plan

  1. And it’s not like the council haven’t cocked up before when deciding to do away with parking provision as in Coulsdon’s Lion Green Road. No doubt our glorious Leader will suggest that people can walk and cycle instead while he keeps his personal (and free) parking space under the town hall.

  2. farmersboy says:

    Could the new mayor call it in? if for no other reason than to place s106 obligations on it – something Croydon seemed not to do in their mad clamour to get some new shops. And, as Croydon knows to our cost, trying to get these agreements retrospectively is rarely successful

  3. Rod Davies says:

    Fascinating! I am reminded of short story and film, “The Blaumilch Canal” by Ephraim Kishon.

    Blaumilch Canal Synopsis
    Blaumilch (Bomba Zur) is a patient in an asylum who manages to escape by sneaking onto a milk truck. He is dropped off in the middle of downtown Tel Aviv, where a road construction crew is busy making repairs. Blaumilch grabs a jackhammer and begins to dig a hole in the road. The police halt traffic, believing he is part of the road crew. The irate mayor demands an investigation and finds no one willing to admit that they were unaware of the hole-digging project. Through a series of bureaucratic bungles, departments clamor to receive credit for the unauthorized dig. Soon heavy equipment is called for to aid in the endeavor that everyone is afraid not to know about, as the hole becomes a canal that eventually reaches to the sea. When an official discovers the whole project is a mistake, he is hauled off to the asylum. Blaumilch, feeling his efforts have been overlooked, begins digging another hole in this satirical comedy.
    Read more at,,1888297,00.html#dxYlGjmR3Lh4O0F6.99

    Perhaps it should be compulsory viewing for all council officers.

  4. If central Croydon can live with temporarily reduced car parking, it can do so permanently. The planned dip isn’t intended to benefit us by preventing repeated illegal breaches of NO2 air pollution safety limits; it is to to enable and encourage people to drive to Westfield.

    Compare that with Oslo, where the planners and politicians have decided to eliminate private car use in its city centre by 2019 to reduce air pollution:

    We’ve had plenty of bold visions of what sort of city Croydon could be in the future. We shouldn’t now be building one based on 1970s notions of road-building and car-dependency with its attendant problems of gridlock and poor air quality.

    • As noted in the report, none of the transport schemes put forward as a consequence of the Hammersfield scheme – the Boris-backed A232 flyover at the Purley Way, the ludicrous central Croydon Tram loop – all of which were dictated by Westfield’s demands and all of which were mainly funded by the public purse, included any significant improvement in public transport provision or traffic reduction schemes.

      This, surely, is the opportunity to do so.

  5. derekthrower says:

    There appears to be a premise here that any of these plans are going to happen. They have been so successful in delivering them in the past haven’t they. Further why is the Council being painted as the villains in this piece by many of the contributors. As usual they are at the whims of the speculators who chop and change their plans at a drop of a hat. It is clear that what is left of the Westfield scheme is in serious trouble and we need the Sleeping Prince Barwell to comment on this matter.

    He has been the main visual protagonist of the zombification of Central Croydon and needs a nudge to wake him up on the Government benches to tell his electorate if any of this scheme is ever going to be delivered or will this game of speculating on land values will continue ad infinitum.

    Further is there any news about the wonderful Boxpark around the station. I thought this was going to be open for the summer. Have they just omitted which year?

  6. bikesyuk says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if Croydon could lead the way once again, it’s done it in the 60s with a shopping centre and hi-rise office developments, it’s done it in the 90s with a tram system. How about it shows the rest of the UK how a mini-holland scheme should be done properly?

  7. Nice idea but things are differentent now. The Internet means less demand for offices and retail. Town/city centres used to depend on the spend from office workers, particularly during the weekdays, and just think how many have moved out of Croydon – ie BT, Gas, Electricity, Nestle.

    However there is a growing demand for affordable residential property throughout the south east. I don’t think we have a robust plan for how we satisfy this as selling flats etc to the private/investor sector is more profitable for developers.

    • You may yet be wrong about offices. Central London rents have now reached a point where many businesses are being driven out, or close to it. There’s practically nowhere left within walking distance of a Zone 1 rail terminus that could be described as affordable.

      Croydon doesn’t have all the advantages of central London – in particular, the easy commute from every corner of the city, and the resulting ability to draw on a bigger talent pool than anywhere else – but by the time Thameslink 2018 & Crossrail are finished, you’ll be able to get here in less than an hour from as far away as Hayes (the one by Heathrow, not the one by Bromley), Abbey Wood and Romford. Connections to SW London via Clapham Junction are already pretty good.

      As a next-best option for businesses priced out of Z1, Croydon has a lot going for it – more than any other suburban town centre I can think of. The next generation of startups aren’t going to be able to afford Z1; it’s a natural place to look. Really the only major disadvantage is that getting to and from Central London is expensive enough at £12 off-peak return to deter casual trips. The same trip between destinations on opposite sides of central London is more like £5.

      • I may be wrong but Croydon is either demolishing them or converting them to flats in the town centre area. Of course, many were quite old, being from the 1960’s boom but I don’t see many if any new office builds in Croydon. Oops forgot Fisher’s Folly, the most overpriced offices in Britain.

  8. veeanne2015 says:

    The Wellesley Road traffic fiasco gets worse and worse.
    Thanks to Croydon Council, Boris, TfL and Westfield, far more traffic will cause more congestion and hold-ups than now due to :
    – building thousands of flats in Wellesley Road and side roads – many with parking, some with access/exit only on to Wellesley Road, and all requiring delivery especially heavy/bulky items, including the shops beneath them and restaurants with frequent food delivery requirements
    – approving a giant shopping mall with large number of shoppers coming by car via Wellesley Road
    – approving southern car park entrance/exit just north of the underpass blocking both surface and underpass traffic
    – closing subways, so pedestrians crossing cause longer delays
    – approving tram loop resulting in hold-ups at the Wellesley Road junction with Lansdowne Road
    – approving the insane closure of most of Fairfield car park, forcing both theatre and concert hall audiences and others to go via George Street junction to Westfield car park.

    Imagine at Christmas – a matinee audience of young families going home when its dark by car.
    Although at present there is considerable delay exiting on to the quieter Barclay Road, all these cars coming out of Westfield car park instead while Christmas shoppers are trying to get in and out
    at the same time will cause horrendous queues both in the car park and in Wellesley Road at this junction. And that’s not including Christmas concert hall audiences for sell-out shows (e.g. Blood Brothers)

    In addition to all the above, buses and vehicles not wanting the shopping centre will additionally be held-up by another stop for cars going into a new entrance from Wellesley Road instead of Poplar Walk. Does this include the same entrance/exit for delivery vans, and will they park on the roof or elsewhere, or have they been forgotten ?
    All this traffic pollution will suffocate the ‘planting’ planned for the central reservation, and it won’t do pedestrians a lot of good either !

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