When the John Gent of their generation comes to write up a passage on the 21st century redevelopment of Croydon, December 13 2016 may warrant more than a footnote in their account, because today is the day that Ruskin Square finally got its first commercial office occupier.
After a two-decade saga over nine-acre the site adjoining East Croydon railway station, involving numerous planning applications, a public enquiry and a global financial meltdown, One Ruskin Square was today handed over by the developers, Schroder and Stanhope, to HM Revenue and Customs.
For Croydon, that will mean thousands of real, properly paid jobs, with civil servants working at the heart of the £500million development.
HMRC now begins its internal fit of the building, with the first tax officers expected to move into their new offices early in 2017.
As was first reported by Inside Croydon more than a year ago, HMRC has a 25-year lease on the building in a deal worth an estimated £200 million for a new tax superhub. The building comprises 183,000 sq ft of office space over nine floors (which vary in size from 15,200 sq ft to 20,940 sq ft). The building also includes a 3,570 sq ft café and reception space, alongside three retail units totalling c.8,000 sq ft.
The building is the first of five office blocks planned at Ruskin Square, which will provide 1.25 million sq ft of office space in total. The developers are optimistic that they have already secured a taker for their second office building, possibly also a government department, as the exodus from Whitehall’s costly buildings continues.
While Croydon awaits yet another planning application for the long-promised £1.4billion Hammersfield shopping mall, developments are actually under way on this prestigious gateway to Croydon at Ruskin Square.
Nearby, the first occupants of the Vita residential block – offering lovely views of Platform 1 at East Croydon and the London-Brighton mainline – started to move in a couple of months ago. There will be 625 homes in the building once completed.
Question marks remain, however, on how the council proposes to make use of a £3million grant offered by Stanhope-Schroders provided towards a studio theatre replacement for the Warehouse Theatre, which was once on the site, and which the developers are keen to integrate into their mixed development. For the “New Warehouse Theatre”, they developers need the council to release the grant fund, but the fear is that the money has already been allocated to Jo Negrini’s “Cultural Quarter”, meaning Fairfield Halls.
For the time being, some progress has been made.
“The completion of One Ruskin Square is a significant moment,” said Jason Margrave, Stanhope’s development director. “The decision by HMRC to locate one of its new office hubs here is a further mark of confidence in both the scheme and the continuing regeneration of Croydon.”
And apparently, according to a director of shedkm, the architects of the building, “An exposed steel frame provides an iconic scheme to anchor the new district.”
Oh, and they also said that the building responds “to both context and occupant needs”. Which is always good.
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