Croydon Council has welcomed today's announcement by the secretary of state that he is committing £20m of finance through London's Mayor on an Enterprise Fund to be spent in Croydon and Tottenham to aid regeneration plans.
The announcement was made at the same time as the secretary of state announced new Enterprise Zones elsewhere in the country. The government has made a decision not to establish further Enterprise Zones in the capital at this time. It is understood that the secretary of state considered that neither of the London bids for Enterprise Zone status met all the criteria, but was keen to back the well-founded growth ambitions of the boroughs.
The announcement came hot on the heels of the London Mayor's commitment to establish a £50m fund to assist those boroughs most impacted by last week's disorder in order to accelerate regeneration. The council expects to receive a significant share of this money as well. The council will also be working with businesses to gain a share of the government's High Street Support Scheme, announced last week.
Croydon will start discussions with the Mayoral team next week to decide the best way of allocating these new resources against the borough's regeneration plans. The focus will be on securing private investment and facilitating business growth through a mix of infrastructure renewal, public realm improvements and financial incentives.
The focus of the investment will be on the town centre and its environs, including those areas that were most impacted by last week's disorder. Business will have a strong voice in how the resources are used.
The council will be aiming to combine these new resources with other funding opportunities, in terms of its own increased capital programme, the Transport for London Major Projects Fund, the Outer London Fund and, in time, the Community Infrastructure Levy.
The announcement also comes in the same week that private land owners and developers such as Hammerson, Berkeley Homes and John Laing Developments expressed their continued confidence in Croydon and pledged their strong commitment to further investment in the town.
Council leader Mike Fisher said: "This funding announcement is a huge vote of confidence in Croydon's regeneration plans and growth ambitions - and, in the wake of last week's disorder, the timing could not be better.
"It shows that the investment we've made in the past few years, in putting in place deliverable plans, is starting to pay off. These extra resources will allow us to make more rapid progress and increase our chances of attracting and retaining investment."
Deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, Councillor Tim Pollard, said: "The decision not to award Croydon an Enterprise Zone has been compensated through this package. We accept that an EZ was not a perfect solution for Croydon, not least because of the significant loss of planning control that would have gone with it. We now need to ensure we listen to business and use this money wisely in partnership with the Mayor.
"This is not the end of our dialogue with Government as there are other ways in which they can support our regeneration plans. We would still like to see early relocation of government civil servants out of expensive central London estate and into Croydon.
"We also need government support to enable Croydon College and Sussex University to fulfil their ambitions of an expanding higher education offer.
"And we're also seeking a partnership with government and the Mayor to enable us to turn around some of our regeneration sites quicker.
"This package is, however, a very positive contribution. And we're grateful for the recognition and expression of partnership, particularly at this time."