By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Correspondent
A start date for when development on the £1bn regeneration of Croydon’s shopping centre will begin is still not known.
But the leader of the local authority Tony Newman, said he expected clear plans, including a timescale, to be released in the next few months, following a meeting between council bosses and shopping centre Giant Westfield, in February.
Council bosses last met with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson, who are behind the scheme, on October 31.
After this meeting it was announced that the development would include a hotel, more offices and fewer parking spaces, with fewer actual shops.
It was originally expected that work would begin in September 2019, but in February 2019 this was pushed back to 2020.
At a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Cllr Newman said: “The shopping retail offer of the future will be far more destination based as we are shopping more online.
“It does seem that there is an insatiable demand for a food/restaurant offer and cinemas, hotels and offices.
“I think we will see significantly changed plans to to be brought forward. Amidst the uncertainty I think it will perhaps turn out to be for the benefit of Croydon to be able to look at what a 21st century offer that is sustainable going forward would actually look like.”
Despite this there is still no timescale for the development as of yet.
Cllr Newman added: “I am cautiously optimistic that in the coming months we will have a clearer idea of Westfield’s plans, and a timescale that they will put around that.
“We have been firm with them, there is a clear expectation from us as a council and the people of Croydon that while we have cut a lot of slack in understanding the changing retail environment out there, that we do need to see sooner rather than later some clear plans about the future of it.”
Uncertainty and delays have meant shops at the Whitgift Centre have also been struggling, with many retailers leaving or unwilling to invest in their businesses.
Back in November the Croydon Partnership, which combines Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Hammerson, said it would invest and improve the town centre in the meantime.