A major mixed-use scheme to regenerate town centre a good idea in principle, but developer’s proposal rejected

Hazel Blears has turned down Arrowcroft’s application for a huge mixed-use development adjoining East Croydon station.

Hazel Blears

The secretary of state for communities and local government announced her planning decision today on the south London scheme, which included a public arena and plaza, office and retail space, residential elements and a link to the station.

Blears said she supports the idea of a mixed-use redevelopment including an arena on the site as a means of regenerating Croydon town centre, and that in principle such a scheme would be consistent with the development plan.

However, Arrowcroft’s proposal was ruled not to comply with the development plan because of breaches on transport and highway policies, retail development, open space requirements and other aspects of overall design.

Blears approved of the council’s declared policy of urgent regeneration of the town centre, but questioned whether or not the scheme proposed met the council’s regenerative aims.

She agreed that an arena, in combination with the other uses proposed for the site, would help rebrand and change perceptions of the town centre and could provide a marketing symbol for the town, bringing with it scope for media attention and sponsorships, and that it would diversify the night-time economy of Croydon.

However, Blears said that some other benefits claimed for the proposal might be overstated and expressed “doubts about its financial soundness” which meant it was “not reasonably assured that the arena would be delivered and, without that component of the scheme, its transforming potential would not be achieved”.

Modifications had been made to the scheme by the applicant during the inquiry process, but Blears ruled that these were so numerous and substantial that they collectively altered it to the extent that submission of a fresh planning application would be required for them to be considered.