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The Whitgift Centre is a large shopping centre and office development in the centre of Croydon, London, opened in stages between 1968 and 1970.[1] The centre comprises 1,302,444 sq ft (121,001 m2) of retail space. It was the largest covered shopping development in Greater London until the opening of Westfield London at White City in October 2008. In 2013, Hammerson and the Westfield Group formed a joint venture to redevelop the shopping mall and combine it with neighbouring Centrale.[2] After years of delays, work is expected to begin in 2020, although the future of the project was under review in February 2019 citing concerns over Brexit and structural changes on the high street.[3]

Whitgift Centre
Whitgift Centre - North End entrance.jpg
Main entrance to Whitgift Centre from North End, Croydon
General information
TypeShopping centre/Offices and Car park
Town or cityCroydon, London
Current tenantsBoots The Chemists, Holland & Barrett, New Look, River Island, Sainsbury's Central
Inaugurated1970
ClientHoward Holdings plc
OwnerWhitgift Foundation
LandlordThe Croydon Partnership (Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield/Hammerson plc)
Technical details
Floor area1,300,000 square feet (120,000 m2)[1]
Design and construction
ArchitectAnthony Minoprio
Architecture firmGeddes Architects
Main contractorFitzroy Robinson & Partners

BackgroundEdit

 
Interior of Whitgift Centre from Wellesley Road entrance

The name of the Centre comes from John Whitgift, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. Its freehold is owned by the Whitgift Foundation, a charity registered in England and Wales.[4] The Foundation sold a long-term lease to a company 75% owned and controlled by Howard Holdings plc, and 25% by the Foundation. Designed by Geddes Architects, the centre was built after the demolition of the historic buildings of Whitgift School, occupied from 1931 to 1965 by Whitgift Middle School, known from 1954 as the Trinity School of John Whitgift, both schools having been moved away to new sites.

HistoryEdit

 
1990s view of the redeveloped Whitgift Centre

The centre was designed by Anthony Minoprio and built between 1965 and 1970 by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners. Commenting in 1971, architectural historians Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner stated that "most of the architectural details are banal, but the centre functions unusually well as a shopping precinct".[5]

In the first two decades of its existence, the Whitgift Centre had no roof and was open to the elements.

 
Whitgift Square in Whitgift Centre
 
Sainsbury's Square

The first shop to open was Boots on 17 October 1968, and the centre itself was officially opened in October 1970 by the Duchess of Kent.[1] In the middle of the Whitgift Centre there was a Roman-themed pub called The Forum. In the 1990s, the centre was almost completely rebuilt to an atrium design, and the Forum pub was demolished.

StructureEdit

 
The Wellesley Road entrance

The shopping centre is on three storeys. The upper two are for retail, and the basement provides vehicle access to all the retail units, with a 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) network of service roads.

The Centre adjoins the now closed Allders department store, which has substantial frontage onto the Centre. The office accommodation consists of five tower blocks rising above the shopping centre.

The other major shopping centre in central Croydon is Centrale, owned by Hammerson, on the other side of the street named North End. Both centres are jointly marketed.

RedevelopmentEdit

As part of Croydon Vision 2020, plans to develop and expand the centre were formalised by leaseholder and landlord Howard Holdings plc, for which a planning application was submitted. Construction of the extension was due to start in 2009 and be finished in 2014, as promised by Geddes Architects who were the main contractor.

In 2010, Howard Holdings went into administration.[6][7] Their 75% of the lease company and management of the centre is now managed by their administrators, on behalf of Royal London Asset Management and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

In mid-2011, two companies were invited to pitch for the redevelopment: Australian-based Westfield Group and UK-French based Hammerson. The Whitgift Foundation came to a binding agreement with Westfield for a £1bn redevelopment scheme. However, RLAM/IBRC preferred Hammerson, and so came to an alternate agreement, announcing Hammerson as the winner in April 2012.[8] Although RLAM/IBRC owned 75% of the leasehold company, no development could take place without the agreement of the freeholder, the Whitgift Foundation. In mid-2012, the joint leaseholders agreed on a public consultation of the two rivals and their schemes. The winner was to be granted a long-term lease, subject to redevelopment.[9]

In January 2013, Hammerson and Westfield formed a joint venture to redevelop the shopping mall. The joint venture company will purchase a 25% interest in the Whitgift Centre, following completion of Hammerson's conditional acquisition agreement with Royal London. Under the new agreement, they intend to redevelop and combine the two main Croydon shopping centres, the Whitgift Centre and Centrale. The mixed use scheme of around 200,000 m2 will include retail, leisure and residential use with the potential for hotels and offices.[2]

On 25 November 2013, the redevelopment plan was approved by Croydon Council, subject to final approval by the Mayor of London on 27 November.[10] Subsequently, plans were revised; in 2016, the expected start date for works was 2017, with completion due by 2020.[11] These were later revised again with the planning application being decided upon in 2017 with construction to commence in 2018, later delayed until September 2019.[12] As of January 2019, shop owners and council leaders did not know when redevelopment would begin.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Have you been around as long as Whitgift?". Croydon Guardian. 15 September 2010. p. 2.
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Prynn, Jonathan (14 February 2019). "Westfield's £1.4bn Croydon development 'under review due to Brexit and structural changes on the high street'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  4. ^ Charity Commission. The Whitgift Foundation, registered charity no. 312612.
  5. ^ Nairn & Pevsner 1971, pp. 118–119.
  6. ^ "Anglo restructures securities on assets of Howard Holdings". Irishtimes.com. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Failure Page". Wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Hammerson chosen over Westfield to redevelop Whitgift shopping centre". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Westfield unveils plans for Croydon shopping centre". BBC News. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  10. ^ David Churchill (26 November 2013). "Croydon Westfield set to go ahead after planners support £1bn scheme". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  11. ^ "CROYDON PARTNERSHIP SUBMITS ENHANCED OUTLINE PLANNING APPLICATION FOR REDEVELOPMENT OF CROYDON'S RETAIL CENTRE | Croydon Partnership". www.thecroydonpartnership.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Whitgift shop owners in the dark about Westfield development". Your Local Guardian. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2019.

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