INVESTORS from across the world have been urged to follow the lead set by retail giants Westfield and Hammerson, and take advantage of Croydon's "irresistible" offer.
Croydon's investment opportunities were championed at last week's MIPIM international trade exhibition in Cannes when the town featured in a main debate entitled "Croydon Delivering Change."
Mike Kiely, Croydon Council's head of planning and building control, said the borough's growing population, large office stock, outstanding transport links, excellent schools, public realm improvements and streamlined planning process had all contributed to making Croydon a "fertile" place for investment.
Mr Kiely said: "We've had two giants of retail, Westfield and Hammerson, looking to invest in Croydon and they have found it an absolutely irresistible offer.
"They are now working very hard with us to develop first-class retail in Croydon.
"In addition, we have secured a Business Rate Relief Scheme from the Mayor of London to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in Croydon over the next few years."
Peter Cole, chief investment officer for Hammerson, said the time was right for the £1bn joint venture with Westfield which will see the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre combined with regeneration of the Centrale shopping centre and improvements to North End.
He said: "If it were a city, Croydon would be the sixth largest in the UK and it is currently the 16th largest shopping destination, so there is massive potential to bring people back to the town and to make it what it used to be – a world-class shopping destination."
He added: "There will be massive growth in Croydon over the next decade, both in terms of sales and population, which is why Westfield and ourselves are going into partnership and why we are planning to spend £1bn."
The town's potential was also highlighted by Mark Glatman, chief executive of the Abstract Group, which is building the Renaissance office block in Dingwall Road - the town's first speculative office building for 20 years.
Mr Glatman said: "The best news for all of us was the Hammerson/Westfield alliance and that is the final catalyst Croydon needs. Croydon has got everything going for it and, most importantly, it's got an opportunity to invest that is absolutely second to none."
This is the third year that private-sector developers and other businesses have come together under the Develop Croydon banner, to attempt to secure new investment at MIPIM.