Croydon is a borough with a rich past and a bright future. The 24th Investor Tour on 21 September gave investors a unique opportunity to learn more about Croydon’s history, its focus on culture and community, and why investors should take notice. The tour brought together key decision-makers, local businesses, interested businesses and investors to visit some of Croydon’s most iconic landmarks and regeneration developments.
Starting at Renaissance, the tour began with introductions from Richard Plant, Develop Croydon Forum Chair and Partner at SHW; Bonnie Stephensmith, Develop Croydon’s Associate Director and Associate Director at White Label; Vanessa Clark, Managing Partner at Chase Sinclair Clark.
Richard Plant said: “Croydon has always been a place of grand plans even going back to the 1960s, but now we have plans that are fit for purpose, and most importantly they are becoming reality at a surprising rate.
“Develop Croydon collectively promote Croydon as a location in which to invest, work and live, and have the common goal of trying to secure more regeneration and economic renewal in Croydon.”
The group also heard from Heather Cheesbrough, Planning and Strategic Transport at Croydon Council. She spoke about the Council’s focus on placemaking and how new developments need to set high standards for the creation of their spaces. She also talked about some exciting upcoming things like the Urban Rooms which will be launching next week.
The attendees also heard from Phillipa Lambert, Fund Manager at London Royal Group who spoke more about the Renaissance and the Group’s aim to champion meanwhile spaces and other sustainable practices.
Walking along Dingwall Road towards George Street the tour saw BOXPARK, which launched in Croydon in 2016, it has grown immensely accommodating recent additions Rudie’s Jerk Shack and SIDES by the popular YouTuber group Sidemen.
The tower opposite the station, Enclave, on College Road has recently launched with the first residents set to move in this month. Tide Construction, used a modular technique to build this 50-storey building which is almost as tall as the BT Tower.
Heading out to Ruskin Square, next to the East Croydon Station, attendees could see Mosaic East (formerly Knollys and Stephenson House) which was recently sold by UBS to Feldburg Capital (Formerly Brunswick Partners). They are hosting this year’s Croydon Careers Fair on October 10, in partnership with Croydon Council, Croydon BID and Croydon College.
They also were able to see 2 Ruskin Square, which has achieved Practical Completion. With a 25-year lease, over 5,000 civil servants from the Home Office are now migrating from three current locations in Croydon. The development is led by the GPA in partnership with PIC, Schroders Investment Management Ltd, Stanhope Plc and Lendlease.
Moving forward, the group heard about many developments on the trail including No. 26, AMP House, Corinthian House and Mott House.
Delegates then boarded an electric coach just outside The Superdrug HQ. The special feature of this year’s tour was the giraffe sculptures dotted across the town centre. These sculptures are part of a 10-week art trail, Croydon Stands Tall, created by the Croydon BID and Wild in Art
As part of This is Croydon, The programme of events for Croydon’s year as the London Borough of Culture.
The bus passed many more residential and commercial developments supporting local demands, including the 100% affordable Pocket Living development, the Interchange building and Saffron Square.
The tour continued running north through West Croydon station, a busy station that boasts connectivity through a variety of transport options – tram, rail, overground and bus.
This led to the London Road teeming with diversity and lined with the most interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants. Discovering authentic cuisines here is definitely a must. Bus riders then passed the Mayday/Croydon University Hospital, the Caridion scheme, and the Thornton Heath area.
Croydon’s Purley Way was next on tour, it is a major industrial and logistics hub, fueled by the growing need for last-mile delivery in the e-commerce age. Home to major retailers like Amazon, Fruitful Office, Argos, and ToysRUs.They also have major retailers in the area like Costco, IKEA, Curry’s and the newly opened M&S.
The coach then brought attendees back towards the town centre, with Vanessa and Richard showcasing more of the town’s unique developments, including the Queen’s Quarter, Delta Point, Lunar House and Apollo House.
The tour took a coffee stop at the Grade 2 listed Art Deco building Electric House which houses LSBU Croydon. They have an impressive focus on healthcare and business. Students run a chiropractor clinic and a drop-in consultancy service for local businesses called Solutionise, which further feeds into the borough’s local business landscape and strengthens their community.
Following this, the group headed passed through the Whitgift Centre, which has recently become more active in engaging with the local community and London Borough of Culture organisers to host local events. Possibly as a result of the recent acquisition by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (“URW”) and the appointment of new Strategic Development Director Adam Smith.
The tour was then treated to a surprise visit to the historic Whitgift Almshouses on the corner of George Street. Attendees were also able to sneak a peek at some historical artifacts and the on-site chapel.
Built in 1596 by Archbishop John Whitgift as a hospital and school, (with permission from Queen Elizabeth I) the building today serves as residential care with over 100 residents. The John Whitgift Foundation also use land and assets set aside by their founder to generate income that is put back into the community.
The tour continued through the Queen’s Gardens, past Fairfield Halls – the cultural hub of Croydon, and towards the final stop The Sussex Innovation Centre, which supports entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups across the South East. The are based in the most recognised Croydon landmark, the Thrupenny bit or 50p building. It was designed by Richard Seifert & Partners and completed in 1970 and was prominently featured on the Black Mirror interactive film Bandersnatch.
Croydon is one of the most well-connected boroughs in London, with direct access to central London and Gatwick Airport. This, coupled with affordable commercial and residential space, a growing population, and a significant investment pipeline, Croydon is an especially appealing place to live and work.