Time out with the Chief Executive – July 2022

While there are several challenges facing the look and feel of the town centre, there are the same number of opportunities to recreate and reimagine spaces that deliver positive recognition from all those that use our town centre.
We can’t get away from the simple fact that first impressions make all the difference, whether it is someone you have met or a place you have visited. They leave an indelible print in our memory that we retain and remember, positive or negative.

Generally, given how we are wired as people, we are more likely to remember the negative experiences, to ensure in future we give it a wide berth! Equally, those precious positive experiences we keep close, we remember and most importantly of all, we revisit them as often as we can.

Those that create a winning strategy will all say that it comes down to the smallest of details, considering every aspect of a customer journey, the touch points, the negative impacts and how to remove them while learning to emphasise and enhance those aspects that build positive references for the individual experiencing it. In theory, this is perfectly logical and reasonable. The issue comes in delivering a joined-up strategy that creates positive first impressions at every turn.

Initially, it takes a clear strategy, investment, a collective consistent approach, and desire to build and create spaces that support those that use our spaces and destinations – namely our people.

To understand where we want to navigate to, we firstly need to know where we are so that collectively we can formulate a strategy that delivers for all those that use our town centre. While there are several challenges facing the look and feel of the town centre, there are the same number of opportunities to recreate, reimagine spaces that deliver the positive recognition we so desperately look for from the people that use our town centre.

The creation of the new Queen’s Gardens space by HUB is a wonderful illustration of what can be built in the town centre. There is a real sense of pride as you walk through Queen’s Gardens, taking in the newly planted areas, the open spaces to relax and the playground which in our town centre is a wonderful addition. It’s so pleasing to have the space back in use and I hope that as the month’s progress, the area not only grows and matures, but most importantly of all, that people enjoy all that it offers.

As we move forward, we need to consider the challenges and how, as a town centre, we look to create the opportunities to create greater investment opportunities to turn the tide and improve the overall look and feel.

Croydon BID is delighted to provide its full support for the levelling up bid. We know that transformational change cannot be achieved in isolation. The levelling up bid is an important step as Croydon looks to reconnect, refresh, revitalise and regenerate and if successful is worth £20m to the borough as it looks to make major infrastructure improvements. While some of the projects have been on the planning table for some time, the need for these interventions and for the investment, we believe, will act as a catalyst to make essential improvements to our streetscape, design out crime and anti-social behaviour and make the environment that we live, work and visit far more welcoming.

While the levelling up fund and the proposed infrastructure changes form part of the strategy in redesigning parts of the town centre, there is still a vital need now to address some of the issues we face day to day to improve our first impressions.

Croydon BID has committed to delivering greater investment into not just the safety and security of the town centre but the look and feel. As a result, we will be investing 20% of our budget to delivering greater cleansing across the town centre while tackling some of the neglected spaces with renewed planting, transforming spaces into areas we can all enjoy. The recent transformation of the Wellesley Road crossing by Croydon BID is a great example of our approach to improving the look and feel and overall first impressions.

As we look to refresh the town centre and brighten up our streets, you will see greater investment into the street cleansing, while further planting interventions will take place across the town centre in time to bring colour and vibrancy to neglected spaces.

We absolutely recognise the issues and the challenges and while we cannot deliver it all, what we must do in partnership with the likes of Croydon Council and Transport for London is to identify the priority areas with a view to not just investing into spaces but lobbying for improved standards so that all those that use the town centre can benefit. While there has been a great deal of discussion, we now need action.

We love Croydon town centre. While our passion we share with businesses, employees and residents burns brightly, our desperate need to see Croydon town centre turn a corner is equally as strong. Our ambition for Croydon must now be met with change and the opportunity to invest in aged infrastructure creating attractive streets and a public realm that connects destinations together and is suitable for people to navigate seamlessly. Appearance and first impressions are everything.

There has been a great deal of change at Croydon BID to get it into a position where it can deliver against not just our business plan for 2022-2027 but also generally for the town centre. We are working as hard as we can to bring forward new services and initiatives while investing in the priority areas you have identified and you will, in the coming months start to see, I hope, significant changes to how we operate and support your business.

Be rest assured, we are working with all our partners to piece together the jigsaw to make the very necessary improvements. Thank you as always for your support.