Whitgift shopping centre deadlock 'can't go on much longer'
SHOPPING centres in north and west London could hold the key to Croydon's future prosperity.
Fears that plans to redevelop the Whitgift Centre could result in years of deadlock between Centrale's owners Hammerson and Westfield have led Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell to appeal for help from Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
And, the Advertiser understands, the town centre stand-off could be solved by deals over developments of Brent Cross and White City shopping centres.
Mr Barwell said this week: "We can't allow the impasse to go on much longer and the mayor can help resolve it.
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"Stalemate is catastrophic for Croydon.
"I do think the mayor has a key role to play in this scheme and I have arranged to meet him later this month to discuss it."
The MP who is a trustee of the Whitgift Foundation - one of the main players in redevelopment - added he wants a solution which is best for Croydon and avoids years of nothing happening.
The foundation, which owns the freehold of the centre, is in partnership with retail giant Westfield, which has said it is prepared to invest £1 billion in a redevelopment scheme.
The clash comes because Royal London Asset Management and the Irish Bank, which own 75 per cent of the leasehold, are part of the Croydon Alliance with Hammerson, owners of the Centrale shopping centre in North End, which intends to produce alternative proposals later this year.
Mr Barwell was not going into any details this week about what he was hoping would come out of his meeting with the mayor.
But insiders have suggested Mr Johnson could use his planning powers as a lever in getting either Westfield or Hammerson to withdraw from the Croydon scene.
Hammerson has planning permission for an expansion of its shopping centre at Brent Cross but it is understood conditions imposed have made going ahead uneconomic.
The suggestion is, if the mayor could help relax those conditions, Hammerson could proceed and decide to forsake its ambitions for the Whitgift Centre.
Equally, Westfield wants a major expansion of its White City centre, hopefully to bring in John Lewis, and the mayor may be able to ease planning paths there, in turn persuading Westfield to think again about Croydon.