Our regeneration team were delighted with the response to their latest Develop Croydon Investor Tour, which saw more than 50 potential investors taken on a VIP tour – by tram, coach and foot – of key development sites in the town centre .
The delegates heard from senior figures from London Borough of Croydon, Schroders and the Croydon Partnership, among others and declared themselves impressed by the town's "exciting" offering.
They were briefed on the acclaimed Boxpark pop-up mall coming to a prime site by East Croydon Station, Stanhope Schroder's Ruskin Square and Menta-Redrow developments finally "coming out of the ground," progress on London Borough of Croydon's Master Plans, the timescale for Westfield-Hammerson's Whitgift shopping centre re-development, and Metro Bank paying a record £35 a square foot for anchoring the 180,000 square foot first phase of Ruskin Square.
Welcoming the delegates Develop Croydon Forum chairman Richard Plant said: "Today is about challenging people's perceptions of Croydon, showing how it has massively changed for the better and emphasising that the best is yet to come."
Croydon's director of development Colm Lacey said major changes have taken place in just a few months since the last investor tour, and declared Croydon "open for business" with the arrival of Boxpark and visible progress at Ruskin Square and Menta Redrow.
Mr Lacey said Croydon offered investors an "unrivalled opportunity" and that London Borough of Croydon wanted to work with them and enable their move here, saying: "There has been a huge amount of progress and this tour gives us the opportunity to convince people of our vision of the future."
A walking tour of Croydon's retail centre, which also took in the 500-year-old Whitgift Almshouses, was led by the Croydon Partnership's Carolyn Kenney, development director at Hammerson who plan to build a new Westfield on the Whitgift Shopping Centre site. She said subject to a positive decision on the CPO consultation by the new Secretary of State, hopefully this summer, work should start by 2017, with the mall open by the decade's end.
All of the delegates were given digital headsets to hear the expert commentary of the guest speakers on the tour, which included a trip on a specially commissioned Croydon tram.
"The organisation was brilliant - the headsets worked particularly well - it was very informative and most importantly got across what exciting times these are for Croydon," said delegate Stuart McLennan, head of sales and marketing at London West End-based LAH Property Marketing.
And Alexander Fischbaum, founder and managing director of City-based real estate financing specialists AF Advisory Ltd said: "It was really helpful to see the wider local context of our clients' projects and understand the future plans, opportunities and competition in Croydon in more detail."
The delegates started with a breakfast on the 11th floor Stanhope Schroders Ruskin Square Marketing Suite in AMP House, Dingwall Road, which overlooks the 1.25 million square foot office and residential development next to East Croydon Station.
Schroder's Head of Business Space, Neil Meredith welcomed the signing of the ground-breaking Boxpark pop-up mall deal for Ruskin Square and revealed the residential development sales team have already sold 50 apartments off plan.
From the rooftop terrace of Bernard Weatherhill House, which enjoys spectacular views over the borough and Fairfield Halls – the subject of a £33million cultural redevelopment - the council's Director of Planning and Building Control, Mike Kiely, updated delegates on the overall progress of Croydon's multi-billion pound Master Plans.
"Croydon is London's biggest borough and it's seeing one of the biggest rates of growth of any borough in London," said Mr Kiely, who outlined the council's Master Plans for West Croydon, College Green (Fairfield), Mid Croydon and the Old Town.
Over lunch at La Salle's Sunley House, currently being refurbished to create Croydon largest "office footplate," Vanessa Clark updated delegates on the local commercial market and said the fact the Metro Bank were looking to move to Ruskin Square for a Croydon record of £35 per square foot showed how well the town is doing.
"It's a great time for investing money into Croydon whether into residential or commercial," she said.
Tour delegates also learned about the growth of the new Tech City sector of Croydon which is luring East London digital businesses to the borough.
Richard Plant thanked all the Develop Croydon Forum partners and said the tour would not have been possible without their support.