The council has set out how residents and small businesses will benefit from Croydon’s growth over the next five years, in a report that lays the foundations for the borough’s future economic prosperity.
Key to this will be working in partnership with the government, Mayor of London, and across the wider region through the South London Partnership, which is calling for devolved powers from Whitehall, and Coast to Capital, which will provide further growth opportunities from any expansion of Gatwick Airport.
The council will also be maximising use of its own powers, among which include the creation of a job brokerage service, improvements to public realm in district centres, and support for small businesses.
Croydon’s “growth zone” will see the delivery of a £5.25bn regeneration programme over the next five years, offering the potential for huge economic benefits to residents and businesses, including 23,500 new jobs and 8,300 new homes.
A central part of this will be the redevelopment of the Whitgift Shopping Centre into a 1.5m sq ft state-of-the-art retail and leisure destination that will provide 5,000 new jobs and 600 new homes, including affordable housing. In addition a second runway at Gatwick could generate an extra 22,000 extra jobs for Croydon residents.
The job-brokerage service, due to go live early next year, will bring together existing employment services into a single recruitment service for employers, with candidates sourced from partners including Jobcentre Plus, Calat and other local employment support providers. The brokerage service will then match and screen residents for vacancies, tailored to employers’ needs.
The council will help small businesses continue to grow, with cabinet being asked to increase the Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund, which provides funding to SMEs unable to access finance, to £4m.
Other ways the council will support small business growth include improving the digital infrastructure of the borough by increasing superfast broadband provision, which will help Croydon’s burgeoning tech industry (1,560 technology and media businesses) continue to develop, as well as bringing empty offices back into use.
And as part of work to revitalise district centres, multimillion-pound investment is earmarked for South Norwood (£1.5m) and Thornton Heath (£2.7m), with other local areas being encouraged to apply for funding.
Councillor Toni Letts, cabinet member for economy and jobs
“Croydon is on the brink of massive growth over the next five years, therefore it is vital that we work with our partners to harness the opportunities that arise from major developments such as the Whitgift redevelopment or any expansion at Gatwick Airport.
“The council will be using all of its powers – such as the setting up of a jobs brokerage service, improving our district centres through public realm investment, and helping small businesses access funding – to unlock our borough’s growth potential and see that our residents and businesses are able to directly benefit.”