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Croydon's cultural regeneration

Box Park by East Croydon Station

Following our recent ‘Art, Investment and Cities’ Forum at RIBA in January, Future Cities Forum has been visiting Croydon to look at its planned cultural regeneration.

Director of Culture at the London Borough of Croydon, Paula Murray joined our January panel discussions along with Swindon Art Gallery and Museums, consulting firm Arup, the London Borough of Camden and art and real estate law firm, Boodle Hatfield.

'We are restoring the Fairfield Halls to their 1960s splendour, and creating a ladder of five performance spaces – with £30 million from the Council which will recoup its funding from housing built around the back of the site,' Paula explained.

Paula is now researching how Croydon can perhaps follow Rotterdam in making a positive of its sixties architecture and concrete flyovers, and how it can combine its reputation for music-making - classical, punk and dubstep - and street art with a living streets culture beyond corporate offices and the fast line to London Bridge, Gatwick and Brighton.

Artistic names from the past who lived in Croydon include the critic and writer John Ruskin, film-maker David Lean, bassist, Captain Sensible from the band, The Damned ,rapper Michael Dapaah 'Big Shaq' and Tracy Emin.

The revamp of the Fairfield Halls – by Rick Mather Architects and collaborating engineers - opening in 2019, will create a cultural zone with concert auditorium, theatre and gallery run by a convention and events company (which draws on success in Bournemouth). This will connect via a 5-minute walk through re-designed public squares and a pedestrian route to East Croydon station.

The Box Park - food, drink and gig destination - is built out of shipping containers with a £3 million loan from the council and was created on derelict land next to the mainline railway to Gatwick. The mixed-use Ruskin Square development by Stanhope PLC and Schroder Property continues construction right across the street.

HM Revenue and Customs has already moved into a building designed by Shed KM. Make is designing the next phase, while in the 22 storey Ruskin Tower, 161 residential units are being managed by Places for People and this will include affordable homes.

Across from Fairfield Halls Chinese developer R&F Properties has recently acquired the Nestle tower, listed SEGAS house and the retail precinct of St George’s Walk which is home to some of Croydon’s arresting street art and the RISE Gallery.

Mr Frivolous and his street art in Croydon - with Fairfield Halls in background

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