CROYDON COMMENTARY: Retired landscape architect and local resident LEWIS WHITE offers his suggestions for reviving the town centre after nearly a decade of development blight thanks to Westfield, who yesterday announced that they are ‘reviewing’ their £1.4bn flats and shops scheme
Croydon town centre is suffering from a multiple whammy.
1, The decline and disappearance of major companies who used to have big offices in Croydon. So, empty office blocks, and fewer office workers out shopping at lunchtime. The dereliction or empty appearance resulting from this further discourages people from coming in to the town –why come to an empty, tatty place?
2, The building of Bluewater, and more locally, Valley Park and Purley Way out-of-town retail centres, with free parking, pull in hundreds of thousands of car-borne purchasers.
3, The unattractive environment that awaits the visitor when arriving in Croydon by car. The multi-storey car parks are shabby and expensive. People expect better environments for the money.
4, From the south, the shabby Brighton Road in South Croydon, and the inner approach to the town centre from Coombe Road to the Flyover and Katherine Street – this is a grey and greasy asphalt desert, with no street trees. Of all the places in Croydon, this is probably the area now most in need of investment in transforming the streets with new paving and greening.
5, Online shopping.
Surely, more people living in Croydon town centre, which is beginning to happen, with new residential blocks and office conversions. Which is great, if the standard of design and management is high. We don’t want a race for the bottom.
The newly converted Leon House looks very good, as does the exhibition for the re-designed Nestlé Tower.
It all needs much better street sweeping, and rubbish bins emptied every day. There should be washing down of the streets in the summer, if necessary, to be done outside the storefronts, cafés and bars by the owners of those shops and restaurants.
There needs more money for greening and new paving of all the main streets like South End,but also the often drab adjacent side streets.
Re-create Croydon as an urban park.
Reduce the amount of mall shopping – how about replacing one-third of the old Whitgift Centre with residential blocks?
And make the place open to more sunshine – planners and designers need to plan the new buildings to create sunny, sheltered places.
Bring in students to the town centre. It needs that vitality of youth which would come with having a university campus there.
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