The Croydon Guardian reports that tonight Croydon, "once described as a 'complete concrete hell' by David Bowie, will announce a multibillion-pound regeneration plan that will, potentially, turn it into a beacon of sustainability, drawing on ideas from other European cities including Barcelona.
The architect Will Alsop, who once tried to reinvent Barnsley as a walled Tuscan hill town, is to mastermind the transformation, which has as its centrepiece 'a vertical version of the Eden Project' rising more than 30 storeys in Park Hill Park.
Effectively a giant greenhouse in the form of a skyscraper, it would become Croydon's primary visitor attraction with different species planted in 'sky gardens' on each floor.
Alsop has proposed hacking back 'a forest of car parks' choking the town centre, shutting eight-lane highways to through traffic and building a pedestrian-friendly 'emerald necklace' of parks.
The river Wandle is also to be brought back to the surface 40 years after it was buried in culverts and Alsop hopes to revive fishing for Wandle trout."
The plans don't stop there:
"20,000 new homes will be built to increase the town centre population from fewer than 5,000 residents to 50,000. Glass apartment blocks will be connected by high-level covered walkways crossing the main Wellesley Road, which will be reduced from eight lanes to two.
Pod-shaped buildings will rise up on stilts and scores of public squares and miniature parks will be built throughout the town centre, inspired by the regeneration of Barcelona after the 1992 Olympics."
Admirable in every way. However, I do have two caveats in respect of the ambitions of the council and the architect:
1 Why is the council wasting so much time and resources on trying to build the unwanted and unnecessary arena in Dingwall Road?
2 We have seen plans like this, eg high level walkways, before. Those of you with long memories may recall an exhibition held near the Fairfield Hall in the early 1990's. This was to showcase proposed designs for a "brave, new Croydon". We were treated to stunning models and drawings showing; glass walkways, communal gardens and elegant office/residential tower blocks. Needless to say, these plans came to nowt.
I wonder if any of us will live long enough to see these plans come to fruition?