CROYDON is London's "hidden gem" and is set for an influx of foreign investors.
This was the view expressed by London's deputy mayor for business, Kit Malthouse, who said the borough could expect a boom over the next two decades.
He was speaking at the Develop Croydon conference held at Fairfield Halls, where Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher also gave an upbeat message, insisting the £1 billion redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre was the start of a positive era .
He predicted: "Over the next five years I am confident that Croydon will experience a level of regeneration that hasn't been seen since the 1960s."
Mr Malthouse's championing of Croydon came as he claimed central London was becoming saturated with office and homes developments and investors, particularly those from overseas, would be looking elsewhere outside the centre to spend money.
He said this was where Croydon would play its part by acting as a valve, releasing pressure on the centre of the capital.
He said the borough stepped up to the mark in providing key elements which would attract investment from areas such as China, the Gulf and North America, countries with which the Mayor's office was establishing close links.
But in making a decision to move, investors would need to ensure areas met key criteria and Mr Malthouse said Croydon did that.
He maintained investors wanted to see a good transport network and with its 14-minute train journey time connections with central London, Croydon passed the test.
The Westfield/Hammerson development of the Whitgift would satisfy the criteria for major capital investment.
Investors would also want to move to an area of residential growth and with the council's policy of building 2,000 homes a year for the next five years and 27,000 over the next 20 years, Croydon would become a place where people wanted to and could live.
In addition, Mr Malthouse said, the council, working with the Mayor of London, was putting money into making town centre and areas on the fringe like London Road, Old Town and South End "animated, fresh, clean and tidy", another essential if firms were to move into the town.
Mr Malthouse said: "When people realise what is happening in Croydon, compared with the pressures on investment in central London, much of the investment money will spill over."
He added: "Croydon will be a brilliant, brilliant place to do business and is a hidden gem for international and domestic investment.
"My message to domestic companies thinking of investing in Croydon is get in quick because over the course of the next three to five years the foreign investors will be coming here more and more."