As we begin 2023, there is no escaping the fact that we are currently experiencing increasingly difficult socioeconomic conditions, particularly in Croydon, which are hampering our hopes of sustainable growth.
We require a vision. We need certainty, and with it, collective confidence, supported by a viable, realistic plan for the future, complete with imagination and wisdom. To achieve a vision, we need people to believe. We need people to have the passion in the place they live, work and visit.
Passion comes in many forms and can be conveyed positively and negatively, but it is passion all the same. It shows that we care. We’ve seen this passion time and again. Unexpected Croydon and the inflatables captured the imagination of everyone in the borough and beyond, with positive national press coverage to boot. Equally, our Christmas Car Parking offer of £1 attracted 445 comments from a single social post, with many of the interactions expressing concern about our declining town centre. Passion in all its forms.
The development of the town centre is polarised.
We can see the growth in our skyline at East Croydon train station, which has many dotted cranes. While various residential developments, including 10 Degrees, are taking shape, the Home Office is developing their new office and committing to the borough. The recent acquisition of 1 Lansdowne Road by Greystar is yet another example of investor confidence in Croydon’s future.
Certainty breeds confidence. If the town centre is to stabilise, the strength of a realistic plan to develop and deliver on North End and the surrounding high street is critical. I am encouraged by the recent announcement that Croydon Partnership will invest £4 million in North End in the hope of improving the experience for all. It is my intention to work with the local authority and Croydon Partnership in representing your needs and ambitions for the space.
The reinvigorated Croydon Town Centre Board, led by Mayor Perry, will provide a new strategic outlet for members, including Croydon BID, to influence the future direction of the town centre as we work to lay the groundwork for a destination that attracts people back.
Croydon, like every other borough and town centre, must address a number of macro issues as it works to rebuild its local economy. We must consider meanwhile use, the ability to inject much needed energy, offer, and experience into our town centre as part of a meanwhile use strategy that seeks to bring in some excitement even on a short term basis while long term plans are developed.
I am pleased that inward investment is a priority for many of our partners, and one that Croydon BID will support as we work to improve our local offering. Croydon’s incoming investment should be reconsidered. It takes time and, dare I say, financial investment. There is a lot of research to be done, study tours to be completed with other destinations, and thinking about how we can all work together to curate a town centre that offers for our many communities. While this is a long-term project, work on this area must begin soon if we are to compete with surrounding boroughs and the rest of south London.
While blue sky thinking and the creation of a vision pivotal, so is the need to get the basics right across the town centre and borough.
Improvements in safety and security, both in terms of the realities of crime and anti-social behaviour and how they affect each of us. The implementation of a Public Space Protection Order, in our humble opinion, will provide additional support to our local police teams and is welcome. In recent months, the Croydon BID Street Ranger team has demonstrated the potential of a team designed to provide reassurance, visibility, engagement, and intelligence sharing. While our Street Rangers team still has a lot of work to do, they are collaborating with many of you to provide positive support.
We are in the process of upgrading the Croydon BID Radio Link from an analogue to a digital platform in order to improve the level of intelligence throughout the town centre. The new Croydon BID Radio Link will go live in February 2023, and our team will be in touch with you shortly to help you and your business by connecting you to our street rangers and local partners such as police teams.
We have already improved the appearance and feel of the West Croydon train station exit/entrance on Station Road this year in order to improve access routes for many of those who live, work, and visit the town centre. Our cleaning crews are tearing through the list, removing copious amounts of graffiti tags and cleaning through street furniture, in addition to deep cleaning and jet washing. The teams are out early in the morning, so you may not see them, but we hope you enjoy the results.
We are deep in planning for 2023-24 as we look to take the business plan to the next level, and while the core basics of the town centre will remain at the heart of year two, we are also looking at how we market and promote the town centre, you and your business, and the many positives that make up Croydon.
Not to mention that Croydon will be the London Borough of Culture this year! We have and are busy planning Croydon Stands Tall, sponsored by Superdrug, the largest mass participation art trail in the UK, with 30 huge 8ft Giraffe sculptures expected to take their place in the town centre. You can find out more about Croydon Stands Tall at www.croydonstandstall.co.uk.
We will not stop. We will not give up.