Surrey Street plan to use Exchange Square hits a roadblock

Croydon Council’s hopes to begin road works in Surrey Street next month could be thrown into disarray because legal deeds prevent them moving the market traders into Exchange Square, as WALTER CRONXITE reports

Exchange Square and the pumping station: council plans to move Surrey Street market traders there could be blocked

Exchange Square and the pumping station: council plans to move Surrey Street market traders there could be blocked

Croydon Council is considering moving the fruit and veg stalls from Surrey Street into nearby Exchange Square for the duration of its proposed £1million road works and “improvements” – but they forgot to bother mentioning this to the managers of the flats which overlook the square.

It is the latest example of the council’s bungled “consultation” with residents, traders and other businesses over the regeneration of Surrey Street, Croydon’s 750-year-old marketplace. And it might yet scupper the council’s rushed plan, because Exchange Square, which includes the listed pumping station, is subject to legal deeds which could block any such move, even temporarily – something which the Town Hall’s lawyers ought to have known about.

A poorly publicised meeting last week saw the rejection of several key proposals put forward by Mark Watson, the “pound a croissant” Labour councillor and council cabinet member responsible for the lacklustre Sunday market and other half-baked proposals which have been imposed on the people who work, live and shop down the market.

It was at that meeting that the possibility was first aired publicly of decamping the weekly street market into Exchange Square while the resurfacing work goes ahead.

“That was the first we’d heard about it,” a director of the company which manages The Exchange for residents of the block of flats on Scarbrook Road told Inside Croydon.

In common with ward councillors and the management of the market pub, the Dog and Bull, representatives of The Exchange were barely considered when it came to inviting them to the council’s latest “consultation” meeting. “We were not invited to the meeting – though I got wind and attended,” the director said.

Exchange Square and the disused pumping station are among Croydon’s under-used  gems, but no one – property owners, Guildhouse Rosepride, nor Croydon Council, the GLA or other agencies such as English Heritage – has yet come up with the finance nor a viable project to bring the empty properties into use, or bring the square to life on a long-term basis. When a £1million grant application was rejected last year, the latest plans were shelved. 

The director of The Exchange told Inside Croydon, “We have covenants over Exchange Square and are keen to see it used well and looked after. Presently it seems a hang out for substance abusers, dog walkers who let their pets defecate everywhere and the odd yoof being cool and messing up the place.

“Relocating the market there even if temporarily would contravene the covenants. But as you might have guessed, the council has neither talked to us either nor did they invite us to the meeting.”

And having been at the meeting, the director said, “The plans look rushed and not well prepared. Just like the meeting. There was no model, no surveys completed, no confirmation what will happen.”

One resident living off Surrey Street, Sarah Wickens, together with a group of traders and neighbours are seeking help and support from others who have the long-term future of Surrey Street at heart, and they ask that they contact her initially  at

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to Surrey Street plan to use Exchange Square hits a roadblock

  1. croydonres says:

    If only we could have joined up thinking in Croydon to make use of the two unused architectural gems we have in the Pumping station-a beautiful example of Moorish style Victorian design, and the Art deco style Segas House– a unique combination of Art Deco and honey coloured stonework.
    Just imagine having a University Great Hall in the pumping station–I have not seen inside, but surely in there must be a wonderful space for concerts?
    Why can’t Croydon College take over both sites and give these buildings a future?. Why?

    • The answer to your question is: money. The two properties are both privately owned, and it seems most unlikely that, in the midst of its current £30million redevelopment with the Fairfield Halls, Croydon College or any public authority will have the funds to (a) acquire the pumping station or SEGAS House and then (b) spend on redeveloping them into a modern, serviceable and functioning building

  2. Another example in a long line of mismanagement and cockups by Croydon Council and their elected leaders. You would have thought someone would have learnt their lesson by now – proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.

    Still, it will keep a few expensive consultants happy to draw things out on a daily rate.

  3. croydonres says:

    Taking another look at the photo of Exchange Square, with stalls in place, it is a lovely sunny space, so why not have a market here for the more “leisure” and foodie type of new street market stalls, and concentrate the existing fruit market for the next few years in the lower section of Surrey Street (the Crown Hill end)?

    If the market recovers, and more stalls come back, it can be extended back to the top of Surrey Street. If it doesn’t recover, leave it occupying the lower end.

    I’m surprised that there aren’t clothing stalls, new and second hand such as there are in many other markets in South London. Are they banned?

  4. croydonres says:

    We need a benefactor for Croydon, with the wealth of Donald Trump ( but a benefactor who has actually paid tax over the last 20 years) and the vision needed to make a success of Surrey Street et al, who is willing to lend the Council 3 million quid (interest free) AND mastermind the project. Where are the steel barons of the past?

    Today’s equivalent must be celebrities…. and artists if possible.

    I wish to put forward the name of D Hurst esq., artist and multi millionaire. Not sure if he has paid much tax, but he makes up for any shortfall for not having orange perma tan, and has the ability to deliver income-generating projects that also look beautiful. Surely he must have some connections with Croydon, even if it is only knowing Kate Moss.

    If we don’t get Surrey Street sorted soon, it will not be cows suspended in formaldehyde tanks, as art exhibits in the street, but display cases containing market traders preserved in pickling vinegar, with labels saying “Market stallholder circa 1960- 2010”.

    “Place £1 coin in slot to hear traditional market trader cries, from the 2000s such as “Pound a bowl” and “6 big oranges a pound”, and old favourites from the 1970s such as “Mind yer backs!”, and “don’t ‘andle the fruit lady-that’s the display”.

    On the other hand, it really might bring in the Metrotrendies and their leisure pound from West Dulwich, and Croydonians from the Surrey-frnges, kids in tow, to see where Grandma and Grandpa used to shop for fruit and veg down Surrey Street, when Croydon had 3 department stores, and when donkey rides, and exotic fragrances for every day of the week, were available for a song in Kennards’ Arcade.

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