Tony Newman told the Advertiser he believed the economic uncertainty following victory for the Leave campaign could affect the flagship £1.4 billion redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre, hailed as key to the town’s future prosperity.
He said he is “optimistic” Brexit will not lead businesses to pull out of Croydon but worries that it might discourage future investment in the borough in the medium-term.
The agreement between Westfield and Hammerson, known as the Croydon Partnership, will see the ageing Whitgift Centre replaced with a brand new shopping and leisure complex, featuring a larger Marks & Spencer and an IMAX cinema, along with up to 1,000 new homes. In total the scheme could create up to 5,000 new jobs.
Cllr Newman, who backed the Remain campaign, said both retail giants had recently assured him a vote to end the UK’s 42-year membership of the EU would not affect its plans. However hits morning’s historic result led the pound to plummet to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 and has also prompted Prime Minster David Cameron to announce his resignation.
In response, the council is speak to the Partnership and other developers to stress that it is business as usual in the borough.
He said: “I’m optimistic we won’t see anyone pulling out of Croydon but my concern is the economic uncertainty over the coming years could influence those who have been looking at Croydon as somewhere to invest.
“There’s clearly a potential risk. We need to see economic stability restored rapidly. I’m confident we’re in a strong enough position to withstand most things but nowhere is immune if the economy really goes into a tailspin.
“We will be talking to Westfield and others in the coming days. Croydon remains one of the huge economic and growth hubs of the country and, regardless of whether we are in or out of the EU, people are still going to want to live, shop and do business here.
“I genuinely don’t think [the Partnership’s] position will have changed. Once we’re through the immediate turbulence Croydon and London will still be hugely attractive for investors when compared to other places.”