After years of seeing a steady decline, could Croydon be primed for a retail resurgence?
When it comes to retail, London really is a tale of two cities.
On one side of the scale we have the hub of Oxford Circus, the cobbled streets of Covent Garden and the Westfield shopping meccas.
Outside the central zones, however, it is a different story.
Greater London has been identified as one of the most vulnerable parts of the UK, with boarded up shop fronts, declining footfall and failing high streets becoming the norm.
Croydon in particular has been in steady decline after years of tough trading. But with the rise of regeneration projects from shopping centres to retail outlets, is this one-time London landmark set to make a comeback?
The city centre was hit hard by the 2011 riots, particularly the devastating fire at the 145-year-old furniture store House of Reeves.
One year later, 150-year-old department store Allders, whose flagship stood in the centre of the town, fell into administration.
Regeneration in the form of a new shopping development had been delayed for months, as property groups Westfield and Hammerson battled to secure permission.
Croydon, once a thriving shopping destination, has fallen by the wayside. But could its fortunes be set to change?
This week saw the announcement of Croydon Village Outlet, a 530,000 sq ft retail centre, taking over the former Allders store. The development, which is set to open in September, has already employed 20 “key” personnel from the former department store and will provide employment for a further 630 locals.
In May, Westfield and Hammerson announced their plans to jointly redevelop Croydon town centre into a shiny £1bn, two million sq/ft shopping hub, giving both the ailing Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres a full-scale makeover.
Construction on the mighty Westfield Hammerson hybrid is expected to start on site in 2015, so it will not be a quick fix.
But while the transformation of the Croydon retail recession may take some time to complete, the green shoots of change are starting to emerge.