Croydon facelift pulls in new wave of investors

Croydon used to be a laughing stock. Seen as a drab, concrete backwater you merely passed through to get to and from Gatwick Airport, it was certainly not a place you would want to live, work or shop in (unless you worked for Property Week, that is, and truthfully, a couple of years ago, ‘want’ would have been stretching it).

Who’s laughing now, though?

The cranes visible from the train station attest to the explosion of development in Croydon over the past few years.

Last year, Boxpark opened near the station offering locals and visitors alike an array of new street food-style options; Schroders and Stanhope are currently developing the first phase of Ruskin Square for HMRC, which is due to move in this summer; and as propertyweek.com revealed on Wednesday, Chinese developer R&F Properties has just bought the iconic Nestlé tower and surrounding buildings for £60m with a view to building 1,000 new homes.

That wasn’t the only deal to be done in Croydon this week, either. Pocket, which is backed by US firm Related, spent £6.95m on a site to build its biggest ever scheme (153 units), with a focus on affordable housing. No wonder the Croydon presentation at Mipim last week was so well attended.

End of the rainbow: The Nestle Tower deal is a sign of Croydon’s ever-growing investment pull – Source: Helen Crane/hellocroydon

That R&F has chosen Croydon for its debut European buy speaks volumes and shows that despite – or perhaps because of – Brexit, Chinese investors are investing more than ever in the capital, and not just in inner London. Where better to get value for money and capitalise on the slump in the value of the pound after all?

Expect more of the same over the coming months. Although there are still question marks over Westfield and Hammerson’s proposed £1bn shopping centre redevelopment, the tipping point has been reached.

What’s particularly heartening for those of us who do live or work here is that the regeneration is happening across all the key asset classes: office, retail & leisure and, of course, residential. It just goes to show with a bit of council support, place-making can make a real difference to a place that, let’s be honest, even parts of the property industry had written off.

Answering the call

The number of residential schemes underway also goes to show how critical housing is to the overall mix. Unfortunately, in Croydon, as elsewhere in the capital and indeed country, housing delivery is under threat from punitive levels of stamp duty.

Last month, we delivered our petition to HM Treasury calling on the chancellor Philip Hammond to Call Off Duty. This week, we got a response.

Property Week’s Adam Branson and Samuel Horti delivered the petition to Downing Street last month

It wasn’t the one we wanted – although the letter did acknowledge industry concerns and said “all taxes are kept under review and the views expressed are carefully considered as part of that process”.

Let’s hope the Treasury is true to its word. In the meantime, the fight goes on.