However, instead of being a thriving and bustling thoroughfare of commerce, industry and residential properties; its "piss poor" derelict appearance has more similarity to the devastation following a nuclear attack, rather than the main thoroughfare of what is meant to be one of London's more prestigious outer boroughs.
There have been plans for the redevelopment of this site (known as the Gateway) for many years now. The trouble is that two rival developers (Arrowcroft and Stanhope Schroders) have two rival plans. Arrowcroft want to include in their development an arena, this is the plan currently favoured by both the previous Labour council and the new Tory administration. Stanhope Schroders do not have plans for an arena, but do actually own a large part of the land on which the Gateway project would be constructed.
As such there is now a protracted legal battle between the council and Arrowcroft on one side, and Stanhope Schroders on the other. Needless to say the long suffering residents of Croydon, who have to endure the squalor and danger of walking down this scrofulous tumour on Croydon's' backside, have to wait whilst the legal teams fight it out.
Had the council had the guts to reject the unwanted arena some years ago, a large part of the Gateway project would have been completed by now.
In October 2006 Croydon Council's Cabinet member for Finance and Regeneration, Tim Pollard, published a Cabinet Member's Bulletin which summarised a visit that he made to Hamburg to see an arena exactly the same as that proposed by Arrowcroft for the Gateway Site.
On the face of it the report shows that Pollard is enthusiastic about the arena. However, read the report closely and you will see that all is not well:
- The arena is in Hamburg is not in the city centre, as such the large influx of people who attend sporting events and pop concerts do not disrupt the daily lives of the residents or commercial activities of Hamburg. Croydon's arena would cause disruption.
- The Hamburg arena, as per Pollard, has an "uninspiring exterior", ie it is ugly. He notes that it would have to look a lot better, if it were to be placed in a city centre such as Croydon.
- Most of the visitors to the Hamburg arena come by car. Yet those coming to the Croydon arena would be expected to endure the misery of public transport, thus displacing and inconveniencing those who currently live, commute and shop in Croydon.
- In another part of Pollard's report he notes:
"It has long been recognised that East Croydon Station needs to be redeveloped as it is reaching capacity at peak times. This is likely to be exacerbated by the new developments which are about to start in the town centre. Network Rail expects to release a development brief shortly and is keen to work jointly with Croydon Council to procure a development partner."
In other words, East Croydon station will not be able to cope with the increase in numbers brought about by the arena. To trust Network Rail and the council to find an, as yet, undiscovered solution to this problem is taking far too great a leap of faith.
- The location of the Hamburg arena (outside the city and away from bars), and the fact that visitors come by car meant that those using the facilities were sober and well behaved. Given the fact that there are a large number of bars and clubs in Croydon, and the fact that visitors would not be driving it is reasonable to assume that those coming to the Croydon arena would be considerably less well behaved.
- I detect, from the tone of the report, a sense of doubt about the project creeping into Pollard's mind. There are too many "ifs" for my liking.
- The residents of Croydon do not want or need an arena. Therefore ditch the arena.
- The residents of Croydon want Dingwall Road to be developed as speedily and as decently as possible. Go for the plan that can be started as quickly as possible.
- Stop wasting time on legal battles with Stanhope Schroder, simply because their development does not have an arena.
- Get the site redeveloped now!
To read Councillor Pollard's report visit this link: Pollard Report.
Take a walk down Dingwall Road here Post Nuclear Croydon