Croydon to become home to the 'biggest shopping centre' after retail giants merge
Michael Gutman, Westfield UK managing director, Frank Lowy, chairman of Westfield, London Mayor Boris Johnson, David Atkins, Hammerson chief executive and John Nelson, Hammerson chairman
Croydon will become home to the biggest shopping centre in the country as part of the £1bn joint venture between Westfield and Hammerson that will create more than 5,000 jobs.
Specific details of plans for the new shopping centre have yet to be decided but John Burton, director of development at Westfield said the planning process will continue with the proposals lodged by Westfield last year.
Mr Burton said: "We think the plan we currently have lodged with the council captures nearly all the elements of both schemes, so our intention to keep the whole thing moving is to keep working using that plan.
"We may need to make a few minor changes as we go along, but at least that way we will keep the momentum going."
John Lewis department store is understood to remain the proposed anchor store.
A fleet of flagship designer stores would be expected to join them in the shopping centre.
Mr Burton added: "We have made it fairly clear one of our objectives is to get John Lewis to join us there with a significant department store.
"We are having those discussions with them but at the moment we have got no binding commitment but we will keep working on that."
News of the landmark deal was welcomed across the borough; nearly 18 months after parts of the town centre were destroyed in summer riots.
The commitment by Westfield and Hammerson will bring a welcome boost to local jobs and the economy in the town centre and surrounding area, following the loss of Allders last year and departure of Nestle from the town.
The regeneration is expected to attract thousands of new visitors every day, transforming the town centre.
Speaking at the press conference at Fairfield Halls, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said he would use all his powers to push through the regeneration, including using his compulsory purchase order powers, to ensure the regeneration benefits of the scheme are maximised.
But Mr Burton said the use of CPO's would be a last resort.
"CPO is used for a variety of reasons, one is to clean up long historical issues and they can be used if you can't negotiate with land owners but our intention is to negotiate arrangements with everyone before the development. CPO is only a last resort."
As part of the venture, Westfield has acquired a 50 percent interest in the £115m Centrale from Hammerson.
The joint venture will also purchase a 25 percent interest in the Whitgift Centre, following completion of Hammerson's conditional acquisition agreement with Royal London.
An executive from Westfield will lead the project development team and an executive from Hammerson will lead the asset management of the completed centre.