Local planners want to avoid the mistakes of the 1960s, when ugly office towers and pedestrian subways ripped the heart out of Croydon. The new masterplan is for more human-scale mixed-use developments, better public spaces and neighbourly pockets where people live above the shops.
© Barry Phillips
Croydon grew up in the interwar railway era, and its efficient transport links provide a bedrock for today's regeneration. There are 20-minute train links to Victoria and London Bridge, as well as round-the-clock services to Gatwick airport. By 2010 it will be plugged into the Tube network via the extended East London line.
Croydon is not a dormitory town; it is an employment centre in its own right. About 50,000 people travel to work there on a daily basis. And with a growing white-collar workforce, developers sense there is a gap in the market for aspirational apartments with extras - concierge, secure parking, gym, on-site cafes - that central London residents have enjoyed for some years.
Howard Holdings knows the town better than most. It has been based there for more than a decade, assembling sites and waiting for a turnaround in Croydon's fortunes.
It recently launched Altitude 25, Croydon’s tallest building, featuring 236 flats. Unusually, five penthouses have been released first, priced from £750,000. An added bonus is that buyers can choose the layout of their apartment - for example, the number of rooms within the space. Call the marketing suite on 0800 032 7720, or visit www.altitude25.com.
The Exchange, another Howard development, is part of a new council-designated “cultural quarter” centred around the Surrey Street market area and a retail piazza with listed Victorian pumphouse, art gallery and jazz cafe. There are 66 warehouse apartments with stylish interiors featuring oak floors and doors, underfloor heating, bespoke Italian kitchens and smart wiring. Call 0800 012 1370.
Bauhaus is a redevelopment of a Sixties office building whose lobby features a mural by acclaimed artist William Mitchell (his other work includes concrete reliefs in Harrods, the Paris Ritz and Liverpool Cathedral).
Durkan, the developer, has converted the block into 189 flats priced from £169,950. Call 01992 781400. Completion is due in autumn 2009.