Chairman of the Develop Croydon Forum on the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities Gatwick expansion could bring the region
Develop Croydon Forum Chairman Richard Plant:
“With the airport expansion debate heading into its final phase, no-one is watching more closely than the people of Croydon.
“Our town, or as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson likes to refer to it “the third City of London”, is in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime regeneration project and our ambitions tie in neatly with those of our nearest major airport.
“Many people will have heard about the Westfield and Hammerson’s plans to build a major new shopping and retail destination in the town, which has just moved a stage closer with their Croydon Partnership acquiring a controlling interest in the Whitgift Centre.
“However, that is just a small part of the Olympic-scale transformation which will also bring tens of thousands of new homes and vast employment opportunities to Croydon.
“With estimated investment in our borough of £5.25billion over the next few years, Croydon Council leader Tony Newman has spoken of his vision to reinvent Croydon as a "Modern European City".
“With Gatwick just 15 minutes away by train, having a world-class airport on our doorstep is a fundamental part of that vision.
“It is for this reason that Develop Croydon, which represents the borough’s leading investors and developers, is so excited about the benefits Gatwick expansion would bring. Our local authority has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding guaranteeing further investment in homes and jobs in the borough and reinforcing Croydon’s position as an essential part of the Gatwick supply chain.
“As a partner in Stiles Harold Williams, and operating out of our Croydon and Crawley branches, I cannot stress strongly enough the opportunity expansion would bring to the entire growth corridor linking London with Brighton.
“I am all too aware of some of the concern that Gatwick’s neighbours feel about the impact on their communities and perhaps they feel that they haven’t got the necessary capacity to deal with the knock-on effects.
“However, I am keen to assure them that their concern is misplaced particularly when Croydon is willing to take on that burden, to build the new homes, schools, offices and infrastructure which are inevitably needed as a result of any project of this scale.
“Not only have we got that capacity within that borough, we actively want that growth. We want to build the houses that those employed as a direct or indirect result of Gatwick’s expansion will live in, we want those people to use our newly-created shopping and leisure facilities, we want their children to go to our schools and their families to enjoy our vast open spaces.
“And, make no mistake, it is not just the Croydon business community which wants all this to happen. YouGov polling last year showed that Croydon residents are overwhelmingly in favour of a second runway at Gatwick.
“They recognise that they can share in the tens of thousands of jobs and a £3.75million apprenticeship fund that will be created by Gatwick expansion, as well as benefiting from the huge business opportunities expansion will create and Gatwick’s promise of funding towards future housebuilding and infrastructure projects.
“Croydon is desperate for Gatwick Airport to expand because success for Gatwick will bring prosperity to Croydon and make that vision of a Modern European City become a reality.”
ABOUT RICHARD PLANT AND DEVELOP CROYDON
Richard Plant has been the chairman of the Develop Croydon Forum since its inception five years ago, having been one of the founding members around the time when the deepest recession for a generation and the riots had damaged perceptions of the town. Since then, the reputation of Croydon has been transformed with a host of big-name developers bringing forward schemes in the borough, including Berkeley Homes’ Saffron Square development and Westfield and Hammerson’s proposed regeneration of the town centre.
The Develop Croydon Forum is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company which consists of more than 60 businesses, partners, agencies and individuals whose main aim is to promote Croydon as a location to invest, work and live. The Forum represents key stakeholders who want to contribute to the regeneration and economic renewal of the borough. Develop Croydon operates a series of events throughout the year including the Develop Croydon Conference and leading the borough’s annual delegation to MIPIM, with the aim of improving the perception of Croydon.