I am not actually sure. – Are You?
There has been much anticipation of the redevelopment of the centre of our beloved Croydon by the giant Hammerson and Westfield conglomerates, commonly given the public title “CROYDON PARTNERSHIP”
But WHEN is it actually going to start? Let alone be up and running! I have scoured much the propaganda that has been posted online, read (from cover to cover) many of the glossy brochures which have been issued over the last ‘few years’ and even questioned representatives of the Croydon Partnership at public relations ‘initiatives’ like the one at the South Croydon Food and Music Festival recently. – Great food, original music and vibes by the way – a real mini Glastonbury by the way!
Nuff said about timescales, but I do begin to wonder whether it will ever actually really happen?
There are many incredible nebulous platitudes contained in their glossy brochures and other literature, for example:- “Improved leisure offer”, “Enhanced natural connection”, “A vastly improved area of public realm and streetscape” , “Focal point for leisure, cafes and restaurants”and all under the corporate ‘umbrella phrase’ – “Working together for the future of Croydon” What on earth does all this ‘spin’ amount to???
Of course it will be “absolutely wonderful” to have a new & improved M & S , a (maybe?) John Lewis department store, and of course much needed residential accommodation – but who are these “luxury” apartments actually for and why do so many of them need to be located in the town centre?
All well and good – I think? But where is the provision for smaller upstart business’s selling arts and crafts etc? Where is the replacement for the much lamented Warehouse Theatre under other alternative theatres? The garden squares? The galleries? The sports facilities? The spaces for SMALL artistic and cultural events? – I could go on and on and most probably will!!!
Yes we know that Fairfield is getting a “facelift” and the Boxpark is great (but only for three years sadly!) but let’s face it the only “real” initiatives in this area are taking place at grass rootes level and by local volunteers and PEOPLE with conviction and ORIGINALITY! For example, Matthews Yard – The David Lean Cinema – Studio Upstairs – The ground breaking arts and health charity – The Rise Gallery – The wonderful free cinema and theatre at the excellent “Spread Eagle” Bedlam Morris Team – “Wild Hunt” (one whose founders and and their FIRST female squire Patricia “Mouse” Bancroft is one Starsong’s founders) and on the music front, South Croydon’s (popular with muso’s of all persuasions) and very well established Screamlounge complex, and of course, Croydon’s best ‘secrets’ in Oval Road, – The Oval Tavern where you can always be assured to see and hear first class bands and other artists playing high quality music, often featuring new and original songs, be it Folk, Rock, Jazz (both modern and traditional) Hip Hop or many other genres.
So come on Croydon Partnership – Please take a leaf (or two or three!) out of what these guys (and Jonny Rose @ Croydon Tech City) and others are doing – REALLY do something for the people of Croydon, You’ve clearly got plenty of money (£1.4 Billion!) and let’s face it you also stand to make a GREAT DEAL MORE!