North End will transform into the Whitgift Quarter featuring both the Whitgift Centre area and Centrale Shopping Centre under the retail giant Hammerson’s plan for Croydon.
Anglo-French company Hammerson, responsible for shopping centres such as Birmingham’s Bullring, Bristol’s Cabot Circus and Brent Cross Shopping Centre, is preparing to transform North End into a huge shopping and leisure district.
Chosen as the preferred bidder to develop the Whitgift Centre by majority lease holders Royal London Asset Management and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in February, the company is preparing for consultation with Croydon Council next month.
Redevelopment rivals Westfield, backed by the Whitgfit Foundation, have stated they will spend £1bn on the site.
This was countered by Hammerson last week by the sale of more than £500m of office block assets in London to USA developer Brookfield, freeing up capital to match the Australian company’s offer.
Lawrence Hutchings, Hammerson’s managing director of UK retail, said: “Our number one priority is Croydon. “We are a FTSE 100 company with the power to comfortably raise the funding required to develop both Whitgift and Centrale.”
Hammerson purchased Centrale in 2011 for £100m and announced a £90m redevelopment including a cinema complex, following planning approval in May this year.
Mr Hutchings said his company’s plan was to create a figure-of-eight shopping route with four anchors, Debenhams and House of Fraser in Centrale and M&S and a new department store in Whitgift.
Alongside the mainstream cinema about 30 restaurants and cafes, a bowling alley and a small independent cinema could be included in the plans.
Mr Hutchings said: “Croydon has been hamstrung by infighting for 15 years. “We want to work with the Whitgift Centre to create a shopping district to suit the character of Croydon.”
He quashed fears of physical links between the two centres, such as glass walkways, and suggested the newly developed Whitgift Centre could be an open air “retail village”.
He said: “Our plan would keep a lot more [than Westfield’s proposal], but be unrecognisable to the existing Whitgift Centre.”
He also promised the layout would encourage shoppers to visit Old Town after criticism for closing the route through Centrale to Frith Road in the plans for the cinema.