Political editor WALTER CRONXITE on the growing concerns surrounding the redevelopment of the town centre
Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central where Westfield and Hammerson were supposed to have built a retail mega-mall by 2017, has asked for an urgent meeting with Christophe Cuvillier, the chief executive of the French parent company which announced last week that it is “reviewing” its plans for the £1.4billion centre.
Jones says that the grand plan for Croydon town centre’s retail regeneration has been undermined because of “tax-dodging online retailers”.
French company Unibail-Rodamco took over Westfield last year when its Australian founders sold up, and there appears to have been a marked cooling in interest in the Croydon scheme since then. The collapse of retail chains and the uncertainty of Brexit were cited by Westfield as reasons for their “review”.
The MP even raised the matter in the House of Commons last week, making an intervention on a debate about Britain’s exiting the European Union, when she told the chamber, “The people of Croydon need Westfield, so we need to rule out no deal.”
Jones also wrote to the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield CEO, and she says that at their meeting, “I will be looking for clear reassurances from him, but I remain optimistic.”
Jones said, “Like all local people I have been disappointed by the delay to this vital project for Croydon but I am confident that when it is complete it will be transformational for our town for years to come. With so much development and such exciting times and talented people in Croydon, development of the town centre is the last piece of the puzzle.
“The uncertainty around Brexit is understandably forcing many businesses to review their plans and the future of the high street is uncertain.
“But this is the reality of the Conservative Government’s recklessness in threatening a no-deal Brexit and failure to tackle tax-dodging online retailers.
“It is our local economies which are paying the price.”
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