If I were to define our greatest quality as a business improvement district, it would have to be collaboration - working in partnership with a host of parties, partners, businesses and those with a common interest in improving the town centre.
The challenges in facing businesses across the United Kingdom are immense and cannot be placed to one side in the hope that they will heal on their own. Intervention is required, alongside determination and dedication to convert a challenge into an opportunity while introducing innovative, modern solutions to the mix.
Croydon, like many locations, has its fair share of challenges but that said, the opportunities for growth are there and in many cases they are being harnessed, introduced and developed.
The need to collaborate, develop new ideas, take some risks and harness the opportunities was central to the summer activity delivered by my team and our partners.
Many of those in similar positions to Croydon BID would use terms such as ‘place making’ or ‘place shaping’. They’re lovely words and they do apply but, in essence, what we actually mean is creating destinations, places where people can come and spend time, enjoy the area, the atmosphere and feel positive about their experience in the town centre.
Our entire summer programme has been solely focused on that intention.
Street Live, like many other collaborative projects is Croydon BID and Croydon Council led. Working together, a host of events were developed spanning four months designed to provide something for everyone.
In July, we welcomed many of you to Wimbledon Live in the High Street. We converted a largely disused area into a two week sporting screen, showing all the action from Wimbledon, culminating in the longest ever final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. In total, over 9,000 people enjoyed game, set and match on Croydon’s High Street, relaxing in their deckchairs as they enjoyed the summer sunshine.
The introduction of The Big Picture meant we could take advantage and diversify the activity on the giant screen. It was a fantastic success as we showed films such as Toy Story 2, Back to the Future and The Greatest Showman amongst others.
The Spread Eagle delivered a first for me as Shakespeare on the Street came to town to present Romeo and Juliet to an audience of over 100 enthralled people. Working with partners is absolutely key to the success of the town centre, so albeit different, it was a huge success. Take a bow, Robin and the team at The Spread Eagle! More to come I hope.
We had BMX stunt bikes, Covent Garden entertainers and crazy golf taking up residency in the High Street as we strove to create destinations for all to enjoy whatever your age. As the summer bank holiday approached, working with Croydon Council, we bought in ‘The Beach’. Yes, that’s right; we introduced over 15 tonnes of sand into the High Street. This is the one event where I would agree that any publicity is good publicity. My thanks to ‘My South London’ for running a story which, by in large, attracted a large number of not so positive engagements. The weather and the event was a huge success with large numbers coming into the town centre, using the space and generally having a great time with the sand, buckets and spades provided.
During Street Live, eight out of the 15 days, footfall increased, with 15,000 attending the events directly.
Brick Live Animal Paradise was, for me, the icing on the cake. We worked closely with Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres to deliver this new event. I had seen the life-sized LEGO® brick animals before and had therefore witnessed first-hand the impact an event of this size has in creating a destination. So, we agreed some time ago to introduce 15 super-sized brick animals across the two centres. From the Bengal Tiger (who stands at 9ft) to the giant gorilla (made of 33,000 bricks), we created a trail across the two shopping centres while incorporating Croydon Central Library. All in all, this offered families something different and a reason to spend more time in the town centre.
Overall, I am very proud of the success of the summer programme. The development of a place, a destination and a series of high standard activities has demonstrated what can be achieved. What is important now is making sure this can be developed further for the future, as we continue to battle against some of the wider challenges, representing your needs in the process.
The team is now focused on the delivery of the Christmas programme so keep your eyes peeled for more information.
The team including Shaun, Rebecca, Keely and Natasha, alongside our fabulous ambassadors and cleaning team, are representing you on a daily basis. Your opinions and views are incredibly important to us as we strive to add more value to you and your business in the coming months and years.
For now, if you want to meet with me privately, please don’t hesitate to contact the office to arrange a suitable time. I would be more than happy to come and see you. Have a great month!