Croydon is a step closer to a billion pound town centre regeneration after a move hailed by the council leader hailed as a "very important day".

The council's cabinet agreed a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to bring together the land for the £1bn Westfield/ Hammerson development.

This CPO will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, for confirmation later this month.

Under the CPO the businesses on the land where the Westfield/ Hammerson development will be built, including the Whitgift Centre, can be bought up and then demolished.

Croydon Council leader Councillor Mike Fisher said: "This is a very important day for Croydon.

"It's good news for Croydon and I'm delighted that we have taken this decision tonight."

And the cabinet member for planning, transport and regeneration Councillor Jason Perry said: "The Westfield Hammerson shopping centre is a major and complex development and we want to ensure it moves forward as quickly as possible.

"I'm pleased that the Croydon Partnership has already acquired some of the land for this development.

"They aim to reach agreements with the vast majority of other owners in the coming months.

"However given the scale of this regeneration and the diversity and complexity of some of the land ownerships involved, it is unlikely that the developers will be able to reach agreement with all parties within a reasonable timeframe.

"Local authorities have these powers to ensure that regeneration projects like this - that will bring major social, economic and environmental benefits for everyone in Croydon - progress quickly for the good of the local community and the economy."

The £1bn development includes 300 shops, 400 to 600 homes, restaurants, a cinema and a bowling alley.

Building work is expected to start next year and take three years to complete.