Is Westfield about to change direction?

Is the Westfield Partnership about to change direction and down size retail in favour of more leisure facilities? Rumour has it that is what is being considered behind the scenes.

This would be no surprise given that it’s the core of the planned expansion of Westfield London and the trend at many other shopping centres as discussed in Retail Focus.

With demolition due to start in the New Year a revised planning application would have to be rushed through the Planning Committee to minimise further delays in construction start. If the rumour is correct that demolition will not actually start until the autumn, then there is more time for a revised application.

The current main leisure facility is to be a cinema, competing with the Town Centre’s Vue. What could be added which could be big magnets for people to come to the Centre are a swimming facility, a dance hall, an ice/roller skating rink, a new medium size meeting and events venue, a theatre, and a museum facility.

It makes sense to change the balance because of the continuing retail crisis, especially effecting shopping centres, and the approval of a new shopping centre scheme for Elephant and Castle. It would also make sense to keep attracting people to buy the Town Centre apartments. There is no point having an art gallery given that the owners of the St George’s Walk development are considering for SEGAS House.

It would be worth creating a public garden at the West Croydon end of the site enhancing the setting St Michael’s Church, and providing  a green open space that could be used by the residents of the multi-coloured monstrosity on the other side of Wellesley Rd. The partnership could also abandoning the residential tower blocks for apartments spread across the roof of the new Centre complex.

Retail Focus reports that Keith Mabbett, director of leasing at Westfield Europe, is says that Westfield London’s success ‘has been creating a retail and entertainment destination that spans beyond the traditional shopping centre offering.’ ‘Today, dining, leisure and entertainment have become the new anchor and experience is king,’ claims Mabbett.

A report by Cushman & Wakefield UK Shopping Centres: Dead or Alive  states that ‘the shopping centre is being transformed from a place where people just go to buy “stuff” into a live-work-play environment, driven by food and beverage, experience and a sense of community’. It suggests ‘that the most successful shopping centre schemes are those that bring together the physical and digital worlds through the use of technology.’

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Surviving Capitalism: 10 January

Survuiving Capuitlaism

Croydon Trades Union Council invites you to its next discussion:

Speaker: Derek Wall

Thursday 10 January. 7.30pm

and other ecological problems threaten human society, yet with the rise of right wing or even fascist leaders like Jair Bolsonaro, the new Brazilian President, there is a fear that rather than reformism, policies to accelerate environmental destruction will be promoted. Derek Wall will discuss green trade unionism, the red-green labour project, the extinction rebellion movement and other projects aimed at challenging the apparent rush to destruction.

Derek Wall is a former Principal Speaker and International Coordinator of the Green Party. A leading ecosocialist, he argues that environmental problems can only be overcome by challenging capitalism He has written 13 books on green and ecosocialist politics, the most recent is Hugo Blanco: A Revolutionary for Life published by Merlin Press. He also teaches political economy at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Get your ticket on Eventbrite


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Croydon Citizens sing for more affordable housing


Croydon Citizens and local churches are  pressing for a Croydon Community Land Trust (CLT) – a community controlled housing organisation.

Support for a CLT is Council policy following Leader Tony Newman chairing the Co-operative Councils Network’s Commission on Community Led Housing.

A Council officer is currently working on a draft strategy for implementing a Trust and other community initiatives such as self-build, to be submitted to the Cabinet early next year. CLTs also have wider regeneration roles.

As I have pointed out to the officer:

(1)     A Borough wide CLT cannot be community led – the area is too big.

(2)     The Council cannot be trusted having already sabotaged Norbury CLT’s wish to buy and develop a site next to the Railway Station as a community garden. (I am its Chair)

(3)     More and more people are becoming hostile to the Council because of its top-down ‘we know best’ arrogant approach rejecting the views of local people and their organisations, and consider consultations and partnerships to be phoney.

(3)     Transferring controversial sites from Brick by Brick will damage any community led organisation that takes them on.

(4)     In many parts of the Borough new build is not an option but buying owner occupied and landlord properties is, as well as shops with living accommodation above.

(5)     In some parts of the Borough what is needed is an approach which identifies older house owners who want to move into smaller homes but remain in their neighbourhood, and building suitable housing for them releasing their homes for family use.

(6)     There are many properties in the Borough originally built as housing which are used for non-housing purposes. An approach is needed to try and re-locate the businesses and return the buildings to housing use. (This excludes housing that had shops added to the front).

Gentrification in Croydon documentary

Planning for the new autism school at Timebridge site

Inside Croydon criticises the Council for the short notice of a public event showing the proposals for the new school for children with autism and other learning difficulties held on Monday 10 December.

The proposals were subject to a pre-application discussion by the Planning Committee on 29 November.

Item 5.1 Timebridge School committee report

As I sat in the public gallery my initial impression (and that of the Councillors) was that this appeared to be a well designed scheme, but …..

The first question I asked myself was what are the exterior security measures to prevent people getting in to the school site? Then I began to think the design was very complex and expensive design and may not achieve its objectives.

It is a big site with a community hall to be next to it, both with separate vehicle and pedestrian entrances.  The concept of each classroom having external views onto a green or open space makes sense, as does the separation of 3-11 year olds from secondary age children. The playing fields for the school will be useable by the public out of hours.

The main building of the school is going to be in the middle of the site, It occurred to me that it might be better as a long building furthest away from the main road with views to the Green Belt and across a re-configured playfields area. Each class can still have its proposed private safe play and green  space between the building and the playing fields.

Entrance into the classrooms could be along a pathway between the building and the edge of the site on the Green Belt side. By reconfiguring in this way the classrooms would be furthest away from the noise and pollution of the main road.

It might be possible to ensure that the site is set back from the main road to allow the planting of mature trees which will soak up pollution and also act as a green screen for the residents on the other side of the road.

Another approach might be to keep the vehicle and pedestrian entrance to the school completely separate from that the community hall by placing it on the left hand side of the site. This would create a clear demarcation between the two facilities and prevent times of access conflict during the day.

Planning Chair criticised for speech at opening of Leon House

Inside Croydon is critical of Planning Chair Toni Letts for speaking at the opening of the new homes at Leon House, the former office building converted without needing planning permission. The editor is right to be critical. The Planning Chair is a semi-judicial function to assess applications and should not be commenting on policy at such events. That is the role of Cabinet members, Alison Butler and Paul Scott.

Inside Croydon is also critical of the Council’s homelessness relationship with Thames Reach.

Limited value of Mayor’s Rogue Landlord Register

If you search Croydon as an enforcement authority on the Mayor of London’s rogue landlord register set up in May the following appears:

‘We’re sorry, but at present there are no enforcement records from this authority, that match your search criteria and which can be publicly displayed.’

The register is very limited because while landlords may be convicted of an offence in one Borough, such as Tariq Hussain in Waltham Forest,  it will take a lot of time consuming and expensive research to check which other Boroughs they operate in.



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Is Croydon’s air pollution and anti-car approach ‘pie in the sky’?

Deputy Cabinet member Jamie Audsley has sent round the following report of a meeting he held on the Council’s Air Quality Plan.

‘We know air pollution is damaging our children’s lungs and lives.

I recently brought together a wide range of community activists from across Croydon to examine the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan and generate further ideas to “kill the car” and move to sustainable forms of transport.

Check out the summary below and share your ideas for action too by emailing & – Croydon’s Cabinet Team for the Environment and Transport.

We learnt the council are focused on…

  • Cleaner transport: walking, cycling & low emission vehicles
  • Reducing the emissions of its own fleet
  • Reducing emissions from developments and buildings
  • Reducing deliveries to reduce emissions
  • Increasing public awareness to change behaviour
  • Local solutions such as parking controls outside schools

Top ideas put forward to “kill the car” …

  •  Creating car free streets
  • Charging polluting cars to enter Croydon
  • Pressuring the Westfield development to reduce car parking places

People want support to get on their bike…

  • Improved cycling infrastructure
  • Cycle super highways
  • A Croydon to Brighton cycle route

Communities see green infrastructure investment as key…

  • Rapid expansion of electric vehicle charging points
  • Expanding the tram across Croydon
  • Expanding green corridors with improved planting

Want more information…

Pie in the Sky?

The package of ideas needs to be considered in a much wider context to assess whether they are realistic or pie in the sky.

(1)     Life styles, especially re-work require lots of people to have vehicles, inc. parking vans where they live.

(2)     Families require cars because of work/school journeys dictated by marketisation of education meaning many primary school children do not go to their local school. Parents often have to drop their children off (school run) before driving to work.

(3)     Many cyclists are a menace to pedestrians and drivers, riding through red lights, cycling on pavements with no regard to the safety of themselves and others. Time for licencing and compulsory training.

(4)     Large parts of the Borough are poorly served by public transport. People are not going to give up or reduce use of their cars until there are major improvements.

(5)     Many older and people with disabilities are dependent on their cars to get out and about. Grandparents who now take on  child care responsibilities often need to drive because of their adult children’s work complexities and living further distances away.

(6)     The drop in bus use suggests that something has been going fundamentally wrong: over crowding, long waits, fear of aggressive other passengers etc, noise from use of mobile phones, etc.

(7)     Major re-think of Underground/Overground/Network Rail system needed to ensure that more east/west lines area created across Outer London Boroughs.

(8)     If Westfield goes ahead it is going to be dependent on customers driving in from Surrey, Kent and Sussex. A former Director made it clear that the type of shops in the centre would not be for Croydon people. The  whole of the Fiveways reconfiguration is to make it easier to drive into the Town Centre. (9) The current TfL bus changes for Town Centre will make coming into Town Centre by bus more difficult.

(10)   A growing amount of traffic is probably the delivery vans delivering some packages ordered on the internet rather than purchased from shops. This trend is increasing year by year.

(11)   Cycle ways and super highways. Where? Look at the Sustrans fiasco on Norbury/Kensington  Avenue area.

(12)   Traffic is also generated by people wanting to visit attractions like National Trust homes etc to the south of Croydon, which are often not accessible by public transport or special buses services.

(13)   Special public transport measures are needed  to open up access to Croydon’s Green Belt areas for recreation etc.

(14)   Car clubs may be part of the answer but what monitoring is being made of their use in schemes where they have been required by planning permission?

(15)   The more electric vehicles  replace polluting ones the air pollution argument against having a vehicle reduces.

(16)   A massive tree planting programme is needed.

(17)   Network Rail should be stopped from its wholesale cutting down of trees along railway tracks, and/or be required to fund the planting of  mature trees elsewhere.

(18)   All new building developments should be set back from the road with mature trees planted in front.

(19)   Urgent need to draft in accord with the national criteria a Local Designated List of Green Spaces.  It was a major failure of the Planners on this issue that led to the Inspector rejected the original proposed draft.

(20)   Need for study of the vehicle impacts of new housing schemes especially the tower blocks in terms of deliveries, car ownership, hire of cabs, cycling use, etc.

(21)   Is there a danger that the cycling lobby will have too great an influence considering how very low cycle use is in Croydon?

Finally recognition is needed of residents’ concerns about the cumulative effect every planning decision for new/converted housing has on street car parking, as well as their concerns about the breaches in 20mph zones (and lack of policing of them). If residents concerns are ignored then why should they listen to the Council on other transport issues?

Previous discussion





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Are Croydon Labour leadership’s development ambitions beginning to collapse?

Government stops Purley tower block

Croydon’s Labour leadership has suffered a major defeat as the Government has blocked the proposed Purley Tower following a public inquiry following strong opposition from residents and their associations. The leadership backed by most of the Labour Councillors has a policy of approving housing schemes regardless of their impact, design, appropriateness and ignoring other policies with their own Local Plan. Unfortunately it is only large schemes that can be called in for inquiry by either the Government or the Mayor of London.

Whether the leadership will learn any lessons from what it regards as a set back remains to be seen.

Croydon Council loses £3.5m+ on landlord licence scheme

 Between October 2015 when it was started and 31 March 1918 the Council has lost over £3.5m on its private landlord licensing scheme.

There are 16,187 landlords and 33,041 properties registered.

There are 10.6 FTE licensing officers (processing of applications and issuing licences), 5 full time technical officers and 1 admin officer specifically for licensing, plus 10.3 FTE officers spend part of their time dealing with licensing (inspections, complaints, investigations of non-compliance)

Croydon Private Rented Property Licensing Budget to end of 2017 18 (1)

Response (October) to Freedom of Information request

Is Croydon Council gambling with public money?

Planning Chair loves Leon House homes conversion

Croydon highest for water leaks

All the wasted water contributes to the danger that Croydon faces a water shortage as new housing and office developments increase the demand.

Child Poverty in Croydon

As part of a study of child Poverty across London, Child Poverty Action Group has published a briefing on poverty in Croydon.

Croydon CPAG briefing









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Looking for Christmas Presents?

Then why not buy a pamphlet or book from me?

The Wind from Peterloo. Newcastle’s Great Reform Demonstration. John Charlton. £3

Caroline Ganley. (Battersea socialist and Labour MP). Terence Chapman. £8

Esther Bruce. A Black London Seamstress. Her Story 1912-1994. Stephen Bourne £4 (*)

Bill Miller. Black Labour Party Activist in Plymouth. Jonathan Wood. £3 (**)

Battersea’s Global Reach. The Story of Price’s Candles. Jon Newman. £5 (*)

Titles by me

Suffrage Campaigns & Campaigners in Croydon. £3.50

Battersea Women’s Activism 1890s-1914. £2

Politics and Culture. Paul Robeson in the UK. £2

John Archer. Battersea’s Black Progressive and Labour Activist 1863-1932. £4 (**)

Kennington Common 10 April 1848. Chartism in Lambeth – an introduction. £2

Organising Together in Lambeth. A Historical Review of Co-operative and Mutual Social Action.  £2

Learning about Community. Oxford House in Bethnal Green 1940-1948. £5 (***)

For single orders of the above you can order by PayPal – see order buttons at

Books by Eric Sanders

Mazes. 2 Vol Thriller set in Austria and Germany in Nazi period. £10.99 each

Limited copies of new books

Black Tudors. Miranda Kaufman. £10 special offer on hardback

There’s No Place. The American Housing Crisis and what it means for the UK. Glynn Robbins. £10

Second book list can be opened here:

2nd hand biooklist December 2018

For orders for several items

please email and invoice will be issued.

(*)     £2 off if ordering three or more titles

(**) £1 off if part if ordering three or more titles

(***) £1 off if part if ordering three or more titles







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History events & news at 2 December


Monday 10 December. 6.45 for 7.15pm The colourful history of City & Guilds Art School

 Principal Tamiko O’Brien tells how the art school has championed contemporary fine art, historic carving and conservation since 1854. Founded as a social enterprise, it is proud of its heritage and expertise, and its supportive creative community. Winter Party follows, with festive food and raffle. 

Friends of Durning Library, 167 Kennington Lane, SE11 4HF

Tuesday 8 January. 7.30pm. The Promised Land – Migration and Foreign Communities South of the Thames

Talk by Len Reilly (Lambeth Archives) for Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society

The Housing Co-op Hall, 106 The Cut, almost opposite the Old Vic Theatre

Tuesday 8 January. 7pm. The War came early to Sleepy Valley

Peter Brabban discusses the experience of a working class family in the Second World War.

North East Labour History Society

Old George Inn, Bigg Market, Newcastle NE1 1EZ

Monday 21 January. 8pm. A History of Norwood Cemetery and many remarkable Clapham residents buried there’

Talk by Bob Flanagan for Clapham Society

Omnibus, 1 Clapham Common North Side, SW4 0QW. Bar opens 7pm.

Wandsworth History Publications

Thomas Cromwell and his Family in Putney and Wandsworth by Dorian Gerhold.


The Staff of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway in Battersea and Wandsworth 1856-1901 by Keith Bailey.  £7

Prices include post & packing.  Cheque payable to the ‘Wandsworth Historical Society’ – to WHS, 119 Heythorp Street, London SW18 5BT (  On-line transfer arrangements also available. 

North East History Journal

Issues 1 (1967) to 48 (2017) available for download

Tyne & Wear Street Press in the 1970s

Historian John Charlton writes: ‘Between the late 1960s and the early 1990s several street newspapers were published in the Tyne and Wear area. There were titles such as: Workers Chronicle, Northern Survivor, Rostrum, Broadside, What’s Left , Mother Grumble, Durham Street Paper, Tyneside Street Sheet, Tyneside Street Paper and Broadside.

Does anyone have any information about any of them? Who were the publishers? Where they were published? Were there editorial groups?  Who wrote for them? How they were sold? What was their circulation? Does anyone have any copies lying around?

Please get in touch with me with information and anecdotes. A part of our political history, I want to try to rescue them from anonymity.

Some readers of this blog may have been on Tyneside in rhe 1970s but moved away and may  know others who also moved elsewhere

The Missing Memoirs of Tom Brown, Tyneside Syndicalist

 Kate Sharpley Library is looking for the lost memoirs of Tom Brown, which were lent to two American academics and never returned. Further details at

Black History on film

Victoria Uwonkunda interview Elsie Owusu on the contribution of African soldiers in WW1.  .

Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame



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