This post was first published by My London on 12/06/2019.
‘I’ve got a plan B and C if Westfield falls through’ says Croydon council leader
But Councillor Tony Newman has yet to reveal what the alternatives are.
The leader of Croydon Council says he has a plan B and C if plans to bring the Westfield shopping centre to the town fall through., but he won’t yet reveal what they are.
At a meeting on Tuesday, June 11, Councillor Tony Newman was quizzed once again on whether the shopping centre plan will go ahead.
He said he is confident that the £1.4bn shopping centre will make Croydon its home.
But he assured councillors that he has back up plans if the whole thing falls through.
In February it was announced that Westfield was reviewing the scheme – looking to reduce the amount of retail and increase leisure options like cinemas and restaurants.
Work was supposed to start this year but this has been put off until at least next year.
Partnership, the joint venture between Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson, said uncertainty around Brexit was a factor in the decision to delay construction.
At a meeting of the council’s scrutiny and overview committee Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick asked the leader: “What is our default position if the worst comes to worst? ”
Assurances they will still come to Croydon
Mr Newman said that he had assurances from the new French owners of Westfield, UUnibail-Rodamco that the company still plans to come to Croydon.
He said: “They were frank in saying they are operating in a sea of Brexit uncertainty and a dramatically changing retail market.
“They are remodelling the original scheme, which does go back some years.”
The leader added that the company was taking inspiration from its Milan development, opening in 2021, where the retail side is reduced by 20% to offer more leisure options.
But Mr Fitzpatrick asked the council leader whether he has a plan B if things do go wrong.
“We have had lots of positive discussions with them, but suffice to say we always have a plan B because it would be wrong not to,” said Mr Newman.
‘A plan B and possibly a plan C’
We are very much supporting them in terms of plan A but I have never done anything in this role without making sure we’ve got a plan B and possibly a plan C.”
He said he thinks the company will be giving a statement later this year, adding: “This country is on it’s knees in terms of economic stability at the moment and I wouldn’t expect a statement until after this country has made a decision on Brexit.”
Councillor Stuart Millson described the Westfield shopping centre as an anchor for many other developments in the town.
He added: “The roof of the Whitgift Centre will continue to leak, businesses will still have the uncertainty of whether they’ll continue.
“At what point will we and more importantly those businesses get to hear what that plan B and plan C are?”
Businesses left in the Whitgift Centre, which will be demolished for Westfield, claim that they are not kept in the loop about developments and do not know when they will have to move out.
Meanwhile footfall in the centre continues to reduce as more and more shops move out.
But Mr Newman did not say when or if alternative plans would be revealed.
He did add that the council would support some short term investment in the Whitgift Centre while shops were still trading from there.
He adds: “I think we have to make sure that we as a council are more than playing our part in this but we can only play a supporting role because we don;t own the shops and we don’t run the shops.”
The scrutiny and overview committee met at Croydon Town Hall on Tuesday, June 11.