Croydon visionaries to debate the future

Croydon visionaries to debate the future

The brains behind Croydon's Third City vision will be among a high-profile panel of architects when a fascinating debate which could influence the town's future skyline takes place at the Develop Croydon Conference next month.

Commissioned by Croydon Council in 2007 to re-examine its Vision 2020, Will Alsop proposed to take inspiration from other European cities such as Barcelona to create a green utopia, with a vertical version of the Eden Project - rising more than 30 storeys in Park Hill park - as its centrepiece.

Among his other ideas were glass apartments blocks connected by high-level covered walkways crossing the Wellesley Road, pod-shaped buildings rising up on stilts, scores of public squares and miniature parks being built throughout the town centre and the River Wandle being brought back to the surface.

At the time, Mr Alsop, a former Croydon resident, said: "Developers are lining up their money to invest and I have faith that the people of Croydon are behind what we are planning to do.

"We know London is under housing pressure but rather than building new estates in the Thames Gateway area, we should be looking to build - in places like Croydon.

"Croydon needs to dare to dream – it should set its sights high. This project has demonstrated to us the tremendous potential of the town – and now Croydon has the masterplan to transform itself into London's third City."

The acclaimed architect also advocated extensive home building within the town centre and significantly enhanced public realms and while those aspects continue to form part of an extensive £5.25billion regeneration package, the vision for Croydon has taken a rather different direction in the intervening years.

Mr Alsop will take part in a panel debate at the conference called Vision City which will also feature John Leatherland, who led the urban design group at Farrells which developed the frameworks for the Croydon Alliance Whitgift masterplan in 2012; Hazel Rounding, director of shedKM, which is delivering a 10-storey office building at Ruskin Square; and Bob Allies, partner of Allies and Morrison whose Croydon portfolio includes the Westfield/Hammerson retail scheme and Croydon Old Town Masterplan. The debate will be chaired by Paul Finch, editorial director of the Architects' Journal.

The Develop Croydon Conference takes place at Fairfield Halls on November 18, 2015. Delegates will not only be able to listen to the keynote speakers but also participate in a series of workshops and debates designed to drive the agenda with Croydon in the midst of Europe's largest regeneration programme.

Tickets are now on sale for £420 including VAT. For more details and to book visit

The conference is led by Develop Croydon, a not-for-profit community interest company representing more than 50 businesses, partners, agencies and individuals whose aim is to promote Croydon as a location to invest, work and live.