One of the company’s vying to redevelop the Whitgift Centre has outlined its plans for Croydon.

Hammerson already own Centrale shopping centre in North End but are competing with Westfield to take over the Whitgift Centre.

Lawrence Hutchings, managing director of UK retail for Hammerson, reiterated his hope of uniting the two shopping destinations in a speech at this year’s MIPIM trade fair in Cannes.

He said: “We are very excited about the opportunity that exists in Croydon.

“We identified about two-and-a-half years ago that Croydon could become a southern point in London’s retail compass.”

Mr Hutchings said the town’s fantastic infrastructure and the wave of residential and office applications had reinforced Hammerson’s decision to buy Centrale Shopping Centre from St Martin’s for £100m just over a year ago.

Three weeks ago, the company submitted planning permission with Croydon Council for £50m investment in the centre to include a leisure precinct featuring a state-of-the-art cinema, restaurants and additional car parking decks.

Mr Hutchings said: “We also have a vision to invest in the Whitgift Centre and effectively join those two together to create a consolidated retail precinct that will allow Croydon to move back up the retail rankings to a top-10 location – which is where we feel it deserves to be.”

It follows a speech by Croydon Council chief executive Jon Rouse, who said now was the time to invest in Croydon.