'Need to move forward' on Whitgift say Westfield
Westfield is willing to pursue a compulsory purchase order (CPO) in order to secure its £1bn redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre.
The retail giant's director of development John Burton said a compulsory purchase order, underwritten by his company, could be the only solution to solving the impasse in developing the shopping centre.
Westfield submitted its plans to the develop the Whitgift Centre last month but is in a bitter struggle with rivals Hammerson over the rights to the site.
This conflict intensified when only days later Hammerson bought a 25 per cent stake in the centre for £65m.
Speaking about Croydon’s future following the closure of Allders last month, Mr Burton said the use of a CPO by Croydon Council was the "ultimate tool", adding his company could help secure such a scheme.
He said: "The ultimate tool to bring this together is clearly a CPO, but that is a protracted process.
"The reason we have been pushing so hard on planning is until we have planning permission it is nearly impossible to push for a CPO.
"If that were to happen, and if nothing has moved, I would go to the council to discuss an agreement to reimburse and underwrite such a purchase."
He also delivered a veiled attack on Hammerson, criticising the length of time they have taken to put forward plans for the site.
He said: "If people take the attitude it can wait another two or three months they are not doing justice to the urgency required to put Croydon back on the right path."
Hammerson hope to have a detailed plan for the centre submitted by the end of the year.
Allders closed on September 22 after 150 years trading in the town.
Mr Burton fears the store will be closed for at least 18 months.
He said: "It is a grave shame that whatever arrangement the parties involved were working on there was no way of extending trading.
"You are looking at a huge site that will be dark for at least 18 months to two years.
"What is clear is the demise has brought the need to move forward with development into sharp focus and the pressure is building."