Croydon sets the scene for greater investment

Croydon sets the scene for greater investment

Delegates at the Develop Croydon Conference left convinced by the borough's investment potential following a packed programme of talks and debates plus the opportunity to take part in a tour of the town.

Around 250 people attended the conference, organised by White Label Creative, and heard a range of speakers from the public and private sector who discussed both the opportunities and the challenges facing the borough in the coming years.

A poll of the audience suggests they were impressed by what they heard with 90 per cent saying they were either very confident or confident that Croydon should be among the first choices for companies looking to invest, develop or relocate.

Keynote speaker: Sir Edward Lister

Speakers included Sir Edward Lister, the Deputy Mayor of London for Policy and Planning, who said Croydon would play a key role in helping meet the capital's goal of building 49,000 homes a year every year for the foreseeable future and creating space for another 500,000 jobs by 2015.

"Croydon is in a great place for that because you've got the opportunity to build new homes and you've got the opportunity to build commercial property here," he said.

"It can become not just an important contributor to the demands of London but become a major location in its own right."

Council leader: Tony Newman

Delegates heard Croydon Council's vision for the borough with speeches from council leader Tony Newman, executive director for place Jo Negrini plus a panel discussion featuring key decision-makers from the council, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London.

There were also a host of panel discussions debating key topics such as Innovate Croydon, focusing on the town's ambitions to become the Silicon Valley of south London; Changing Places, about enhancing Croydon's desirability; Future City, focusing on future Croydon will be like to live in; and Vision City, at which leading architects spoke about their plans to enhance the borough.

There was also an opportunity to meet planners from the local authorities, an investor tour by executive coach around the town centre, and short lunchtime talks on the local office market, what the new Saffron Square development was like to live in, the transformation of College Green into and educational and cultural quarter and how art can change the way Croydon is viewed, by Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison of the RISEgallery.

Tasty treats: A world food market was held at lunchtime

Members of the audience got the chance to enjoy some of the new flavours being brought to Croydon via a World Food Market based on the weekly event held at Platform Ruskin Square.

Another poll revealed that a third of the audience felt the priority for Croydon was changing perception, but that was down from almost half four years ago. The importance of delivering public realm and improving the cultural and lifestyle offer were seen as greater priorities than before.

Carolyn Kenney, assistant director – retail development at Hammerson, which in partnership with Westfield in behind a £1billion scheme to transform the retail core, said: "One of the key messages from today is Croydon really has moved on. It is now happening. You can feel it and you can see it.

Shaping the future: Carolyn Kenney

"How does Croydon move on from here? There is work to do to address some of the mistakes from the past but it does feel as if the stage has already been set.

"The masterplan and the vision are already in place and it's now about delivering and about the quality of the buildings and the spaces between them. What we really need is some care to take the vision and to transform it into somewhere that people really do feel proud of. We are in a position to shape Croydon's future."

The conference was led by Develop Croydon, a not-for-profit community interest company representing more than 60 businesses, partners, agencies and individuals whose aim is to promote Croydon as a location to invest, work and live.