A decade on and Croydon’s Island offers stark lessons

Island, once known as IYLO, a development in the middle of a Croydon roundabout, stands like a monument to the greed of property developers. Photograph by Grant Melton

It stands to the north of Croydon town centre like a monument to the flaws of the housing market, a broken tooth of a tower block in the middle of a busy south London roundabout.

Construction work began a decade ago on a tower which was supposed to include 183 flats and 11 penthouses, some with price tags of more than £1million.

Island, pictured this week, still looking like a building site, 10 years after work began

But after the global financial crash and building companies going bankrupt, a name change seeing the blighted IYLO becoming “The Island” followed, and the 20-storey building still has outside areas which look like a building site.

The estate agents trying to market the over-priced flats have resorted to using architects’ sketches of what the reception area, with 24/7 concierge service, no less, might look like once it is all finished. After 10 years, you’d think they might be able to use their own photographs of the open reception area.

Apartments in the block were once marketed “exclusively” to buy-to-let property speculators in the Far East, who were assured that none of the homes in the building would be occupied by anyone on benefits.

As photographer Grant Melton’s images demonstrate, the building has looked unloved.

Even a much-reduced asking price of £550,000 for a two-bedroom flat on the 18th floor today doesn’t seem to be much of a bargain.

Developers’ dreams of making easy money from a patch of land which seemingly no one else would want have turned into a long-lasting nightmare.

A room with a view, once The Island is finished. Photograph: Grant Melton

“As a place to live, Island is hard to beat. Every apartment and penthouse has either a terrace or a balcony and floor to ceiling windows offering superb views over the area,” the sales blurb on the marketing website states.

“At ground level, the landscaped gardens provide an oasis of calm in a metropolitan setting.” An oasis of calm. In a roundabout. 

Grant Melton’s photography showed the sorry state of The Island

When photographer Melton visited the site, he says it was in a sorry state, long neglected, with the underground car park flooded.

The flooded underground car park at The Island showed how neglected the site had become.    Photo: Grant Melton

Surely no one who actually visits the property would consider paying the prices being asked for?

Maybe the marketing department’s best hope is to revert to Plan A and flog a few to absentee landlords in the Far East who won’t be bothered about actually seeing the place, never mind living in it.

What is certain is that The Island should be held up as an example, to politicians from the housing minister, to the council CEO and beyond, how the free market is such a poor answer to the resolving the housing crisis.

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17 Responses to A decade on and Croydon’s Island offers stark lessons

  1. sandilands02 says:

    I had no idea it was not complete. It is a good looking building though.

    The other buildings in the area seem to have been redeveloped and now once the council fix the concrete fence lining one half of the roundabout, will make the entire place look pretty decent.

  2. Lewis White says:

    I feel very sorry for anyone who bought here, whether to live or speculate.
    However, it might just put off a certain type of developer from attempting similar projects located in silly places.

    By the way, who conceived and gave planning permission for this seemingly ill-fated development, which comes with its own pollution envelope?. I don’t think I would want to sit on my balcony to inhale the exhaust of passing cars as they zoom round and round, like Chevy Chase and his family in that brilliant “National Lampoons ” film, as their drivers attempt to escape from the redeveloped Whitgift Centre in 5 years time.

    If this development is unviable now, what will it be like in 10, 20 years?.

    I hope that the poor old Council tax payer of the time doesn’t have to pay for it to be knocked down,and the residents rehoused, or– that a desperate council takes the block over as social housing.

    The trouble with bad development is that it lasts –normally around 100 years.

  3. It should be left exactly as it is, a monument to the gross folly of overbuilding, ill-founded ambition and straightforward greed that underpins the manic building of unsaleable flats in the town centre. “If you build it, they will come” worked fine in Field of Dreams. In Croydon it will not. It is more the Feild of Nightmares.

  4. derekthrower says:

    Just today we hear that Gavin “Come Up And See Me Some Time” Barwell is begging global property speculators to build anywhere in the UK and come to him if they need any site to develop.

    This oasis of grime appears just ready to be knocked down and started again. What an absolute shambles and we have to wonder who is taking the loss on this ill-conceived disaster. Have a funny feeling it will contribute to someone losses to write off tax and leave the environmental fall out to the State.

  5. Huh? I find this article a bit needlessly doom and gloom. These are mostly old photos from a few years ago aren’t they? The development is finished and the car park is in use.


    I think most people would say it’s a modern attractive building, as are the grounds. Although the choice of pure white render on a roundabout location was bizarre…

    It’s easy to say the ambition and pricing were misguided, but look how many new developments then followed suit at £400K+ for a flat. They were just too early and ended up building through a recession. Almost every person I see going in or out is a suited professional and all the lights are on at night, so I don’t know how that can be a bad thing in that part of town.

    • The picture of the front of the building with the traffic cones was taken this week. The marketing department, meanwhile, continues to use architects sketches which were drawn three years ago or more.
      And if anyone did pay the £1.2million asking price at which the “penthouses” were first put on the market, they will share a common experience with those who bought at Altitude 25, and have a property worth 60 per cent or less of what they paid, or owe, for it.

      • Yes I’ve seen the cones, obvs a car crashed into it! Nothing to do with outstanding construction work. So that’s the only current photo in the article?… (oh)

        I guess I don’t understand why you’re trying to paint such a bad picture, when it may be a great development for the people who’ve lived there for 2 years now. But you make it look and sound like it’s derelict.

        The initial pricing was seemingly for foreign blind investors, the current pricing is in line with other current developments. You said yourself, IF anyone paid £1.2 million… and even if they did, they should have known better!

  6. derekthrower says:

    I do love a bit of self delusion. Lets forget about the numerous years when it stood empty and idle, not forgetting the time when the crane fell onto it and desperately say it has all been a “wonderful success.”

  7. As a small Croydon developer I do find this to be rather depressing. Though as pointed out its location is positively appalling. And I do feel sorry for anyone who has bought there at an inflated price.
    Its a cautionary tale that whilst Croydon has got plenty of land, its still very important that new developments are in the right part of Croydon, and that its well designed. though in fairness Islo itself looks fine.
    I also worry that in a couple of years we shall have a massive over supply of homes in Central Croydon. These things have a habit of filling up, but once again they need to in the whole be filled up by the right type of people. By this I mean people who will spend much needed money in Croydon in the local shops, pubs and restaurants.

  8. derekthrower says:

    I think the problem here is Croydon not having the “right type” of developer.

  9. I’m not sure what this article is trying to achieve, I live in this building and can safely say that it is finished and very well maintained.

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