// Indie retailers in Croydon say the long-delayed Westfield development will be “too little too late”
// The £1.4bn proposal was first revealed in 2012
Independent retailers in Croydon have expressed their concerns over the delayed local Westfield development.
Speaking to Drapers, the small businesses said the establishment would be “too little too late” to save Croydon’s retail environment.
The £1.4 billion proposal was first revealed in 2012, when shopping centre giants Westfield and Hammerson formed the Croydon Partnership to redevelop the Whitgift Centre and other retail units in Croydon’s town centre.
It was previously expected that construction would begin in September this year, with the opening date slated for 2023.
However, earlier this year, Croydon Council leader councillor Tony Newman said he did not know when construction on the £1.4 billion development would start.
The council took possession of the former Allders department store last month, and it is currently undergoing a full health and safety audit.
Despite this, the Croydon Partnership has still not revealed how long the review will take, nor has it announced a new date for construction to begin.
Meanwhile, established retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer have confirmed commitment to retail space in the new Westfield development.
This has prompted concern from independent retailers over the possibility of being pushed out if the project finalised.
“Some of the empty units will be redeveloped as part of the Whitgift Centre and other redevelopments, but we don’t want to lose our independent businesses,” a Croydon Council spokesperson told Drapers.
“They make up a large part of Croydon’s economy, and we support them in a number of ways including offering discretionary rate relief and access to low-interest rate loans available to businesses that may not qualify for loans through banks.
“We also work with businesses to ensure they get a space suitable for them.”
The Croydon Partnership said: “With the changing retail market in the UK, and shifting consumer demands, we are continuing to review the Croydon development to ensure it meets future needs.
“The objective is to increase the leisure and dining offers, with a hotel and offices also being considered in addition to residential.
“We are long-term investors in the area and to date have invested over £300 million in Croydon including development and community investments.”