CROYDON COMMENTARY: With news of Mike Ashley’s takeover of House of Fraser, LEWIS WHITE, right, jumped into his time machine to see what may lie in store for the town centre
With the shrinkage of retail over recent years, and the surplus of office space in Croydon as a result of major employers such as insurance companies and Nestlé leaving town (for whatever reason), the only remaining hope for regeneration of long-derelict or commercially declining sites in Croydon town centre is the creation of new flats in existing buildings (like Leon House) and development of new blocks of flats of the sites of former buildings (like Taberner House).
Whether the demand for so many flats is actually there is another question.
Another question is whether land owners and landlords like the Whitgift Foundation are prepared to adjust to making smaller profits from new development than was usual in the boom times of 1960s Croydon.
Surely, after years of holding on to land and decaying empty buildings that are not making any profit, but still require basic maintenance and security, even the richest landowner must reach a stage when they will have to stop spending out with nothing much coming in?
The prospect of dereliction for decades is a really awful one.
Let’s hope that the yuppification of central Croydon succeeds.
The alternative historical prompts for urban renewal on a large scale tend to be things like wars and fires like the Great Fire of London.
One hopes for a somewhat gentler catalyst for urban renewal and the future for Croydon. And a reasonably quick one too.
Longer term, much of Croydon may end up below the waves, as CO2 levels increase, resulting in global warming and ice caps melting.
Grandchildren of today’s Inside Croydon readership might live to see Croydon High Street become a beach, overlooking the bays of Waddon and Beddington, with killer whales cruising off the coast of Addiscombe.
Deck chair and ice creams anyone?
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