Centrale flips out with £2m adventure park planned for summer

Around 75 jobs will be created by turning unwanted retail space into a ‘family fun centre’

It might not be the whole solution to the sorry plight of Croydon town centre, where a year-long lockdown has compounded storeowners’ troubles with the decline of the high street, but turning part of an increasingly vacant shopping centre into an adventure park could be part of the answer.

Two floors of the Centrale mall will be turned over to Flip Out for its games and rides

Hammerson, the owners of Centrale, have announced that Flip Out will be coming to Croydon this summer, with a £2million refit of a large part of two floors of the shopping centre.

In the past week, Centrale has been “re-invented” as an NHS covid-19 vaccination centre, taking up much of its Upper Mall, administering thousands of life-saving jabs every day. The sooner the Croydon public is all vaxed up, the sooner we can get back to business as usual.

Part of that, for Centrale, will be Flip Out, using otherwise disused and unwanted retail space as an adventure park, turning the mall into a “destination”, where bars, restaurants and cinemas are as much the reason for a visit to the town centre as a shopping expedition once was.

Much of Centrale’s Upper Mall has been turned over for use as a covid vaccination centre

As yet, there remains uncertainty over an opening date. Coronavirus will determine when things are good and ready to launch the new venture, which will offer a range of rides, games and activities for £20 for a three-hour ticket.

Flip Out is the UK’s biggest adventure park franchise, with 25 sites around the country. In Croydon, they will use 30,000 sqft of Centrale for fairground attractions including a bumper car track, a glow in the dark ice rink, themed mini golf, a huge inflatable system, Laser Quest, interactive football, an assault course and an arcade area with all the latest games.

The venue will also include a soft play area for toddlers, and spaces for parents to relax with refreshments and snacks from the café.

Flip Out will have themed party rooms, as well as bars and restaurants. In addition, the venue will run disability sessions where carers are allowed in for free.

Around 25 full-time and 50 part-time jobs will be created, which will be Flip Out’s second “Super Centre”.

Five-a-side football is among the varied offerings of Flip Out’s adventure centre

“It’s been a difficult year for everyone but now we want to give people an outlet to go have some fun and still be safe,” Richard Beese, the co-owner of Flip Out, said.

“If you’ve been stuck at home bouncing off the walls in frustration, then what better way to blow off some steam with the family? The park will be due to open in the summer, depending on government guidelines. We can’t wait for the people of Croydon to enjoy what’s on offer!”

Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, said: “If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that nothing beats sharing experiences with friends and family.

“We’re always looking to introduce concepts that will deliver something new and exciting for our customers, and this is a prime example of that.”

The centre will also offer fully hosted birthday parties, late-night discos and group sleepovers. Opening times will be 10am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, 10am to 9pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 7pm on a Sunday. Free parking will be provided for 90 minutes in the shopping centre for all Flip Out customers seven days a week when attending a session.

Croydon’s run-down town centre, after a decade of development blight, will need every boost it can get once lockdown is lifted

Hammerson’s Centrale was, of course, supposed to have been part of the £1.4billion regeneration scheme in the town centre, in partnership with Westfield

Hammerson, as the owners of a chain of malls including Birmingham’s Bull Ring and Brent Cross, have been having a tough time of it themselves, with rents down during the pandemic while well-known department stores – their tenants – such as Debenhams have gone out of business altogether.

“The current environment, exacerbated by the impact of covid-19, is undoubtedly the most challenging we have faced as a business,” David Atkins, the company’s chief exec, admitted last year. Hammerson’s share price, once 1600p, is today 39.7p, down from 74p less than a year ago.

A ride in one of Flip Out’s bumper cars could yet prove to be smoother than anything that awaits Atkins’s successor as Hammerson CEO this year.


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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to Centrale flips out with £2m adventure park planned for summer

  1. Lewis White says:

    It sounds really good fun. Far much more to do than go in some anodyne multiscreen cinema and watching a boring film and get fat on pocorn. No doubt, in a few years time, virtual reality will allow the players to play whole games against holograms of footie heroes of now and then. How about playing a multi-era team of Kane, Alle,Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, Walcott, Wright, Ferdinand(s) Cantona, Cruyff, Pele, Georgie Best, Moore, Charlton(s) , Nobby S, Stanley Matthews etc etc etc etc etc.

    Just triggered another thought about radical new uses for shopping centres– knock down at least half of the Whitgift Centre and build a sunny, town centre park with lost of space for the thousands of ne w Croydon residents living in tiny flats in the sky to come down to earth and relax amid green grass trees, flowers and water.

    They will need it to remain sane.

  2. moyagordon says:

    Brilliant news. Just what Croydon town centre needs.

  3. Jan says:

    What next how can we call it Croydon Town Centre ever again, when there is no Town anymore, I am ashamed to live in Croydon now, once a thriving town now just a dump.

  4. Lewis White says:

    Perhaps a “Jorvik”-like experience could be also built, with electric-powered carts- giving tourists the story of Croydon ?

    No Vikings perhaps (unless they rowed all the way up the Wandle from the Thames) but , certainly the Celts, who named Penge “Pencoed” –the hilltop wood– then Romans building a road, from Brixton and Streatham past Waddon Ponds to Purley, and onwards to the iron works of the Sussex Weald (pausing to build a quick villa on Beddington Marsh) , plus Anglo Saxons growing Saffron crocus and then deciding to call Croydon the crocus dene (valley).

    Then, the sights (and smells) of the streets and courts of Medieval Croydon–no doubt, with insights into intrigue as well as holiness at the Church and Archbishops’ Palace, and jousting on Duppas Hill. Then — in the 19th Century, when the Old Town area became befouled by tanneries and rubbish dumped in the once crytalline Wandle– the decline of Old Town, with criminality and sordid lodging houses –according to a contemporary source– “as bad as Liverpool or Mancester” . Deserted by the well off, who migrated up hill to the salubrious downland slopes of Duppas and South Croydon.

    A section of pictures and the music of Samuel Coleridge Taylor and details of his immense contemporoary success on both sides of the Atlantic, and film and pictures of Victorian and Edwardian Croydon.

    Pictures and film over 150 years, starting in 1801 with the coming of the Surrey Iron Railway, rapidly followed by the Croydon Canal, then the Brighton Railway, and the short-lived “Atmospheric Railway”, would allow visitors to experience a whole new world of transport, followed by the sounds of Handley Page transatlantic aircraft, and Jazz age music, and soundtracks of posh travellers and airline captains and staff at Croydon Airport.

    Plus a Trojan Car experience giving a quick blast along the Purley Way.

    A soupcon of Music Hall and Variety music and film from the Huntley Archives, curated by a hologram of the late Roy Hudd, of Croydon theatres and picture palaces, and crowds of people queuing to see stars of stage, silent film and talkies, would add a leisure dimension.

    Then a stirring sequence of 1950’s and 1960’s film showing new office blocks , flyover and Fairfield Halls rising into the sunny skies of mid 20th Croydon. On Pathe or British Movietone News of course –cock a doodle doo! Happy shoppers in the new Whitgift Centre, plus traditional crowds in Kennards, Allders, and Grants, with — from Surrey Street- a soundtrack of traditional street cries familiar to older readers of Inside Croydon. “Mind yer backs please” “Half a pound of ripe termaters, ‘alf a pound of SALAD termaters” . Hand-written signs of Canary Island tomatoes– “rock hard and sweet as a nut”.

    An Arts section, with sequences of famous Croydonians from the Arts, such as John Ruskin, Peggy Ashcroft, David Lean, Roy Hudd, Ronnie Corbett, the Flower Fairies painter Cicely Mary Barker, Sue Perkins, Martin Clunes and others. Top of the Pops video of Elton John singing in an open air Whitgift Centre, and sequences of music from Jeff Beck, Ralph Mc Tel, Captain Sensible, Stormzy, and Brit School alumnus Amy Winehouse,. And pictures of Kate Moss.

    The whole experience would be fantastic ! More interesting than than other tourist trail in the whole World. Such is the variety and magic of Croydon !

    Ooops, I forgot, there will be illusions during the visitor journey by Darren Brown, and – for those who do not suffer from dizziness– some stroboscopic visual effects by painter Bridget Riley.

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