Croydon's Future

Stiffed!

18/08/2011

3 Comments

 

More disappointment for Croydon

Croydon's blighted St Georges Walk
The blighted St Georges Walk shows the sorry state of Croydon
Croydon has been in decline for an awfully long time.  Even before 8/8, its local economy had lost vigour, it was awash with vacant office space, it had a dire image, its shopping precinct had become tired and it was suffering large job losses.  If ever a town needed regeneration, Croydon was the place.

The most extraordinary thing is that Croydon’s decline continued during the 10 years up to the financial crash in 2008 – a time when the rest of London was booming.  To be fair to our Council, it recognised that serious action was needed.  It hired Jon Rouse as the Council CEO in 2007 – the man who “wrote the book on urban regeneration”.  Shortly after his appointment, Jon recruited the highly rated Emma Peters as Director of Planning & Regeneration.  The Council then embarked on formulating a 20 year long-term development plan – the “Core Strategy”.  This Strategy was billed as not just giving developers a licence to build anything they wanted, but a holistic plan to renew every aspect of Croydon – its economy, education, culture and social provision.  All very good so far...…

But after a promising start, the wheels began to come off the Croydon regeneration wagon.  It became apparent that the Core Strategy was little more than a cover for forcing through building masterplans – a developers’ charter if ever there was one.  Croydon’s economic and social problems were barely addressed by the Core Strategy.  Worse was to follow as our Council was forced to save £90m over 3 years as part of central government’s austerity drive.  The age of austerity bit Croydon especially hard due to its increasing reliance on public sector employment.  Huge numbers of redundancies were announced at two of Croydon’s most important employers - the Council and UKBA.  The axing of the Clocktower re-inforced Croydon’s image as a cultural desert.