CROYDON made national headlines for the right reasons as the Westfield/Hammerson deal was approved by the council. Several broadsheet papers have covered the news, noting cause for optimism in a town which has endured its share of setbacks in recent years. The coverage has been positive, though a number of commentators have noted that previous developments have turned out to be false dawns. The Financial Times said outline planning approval is a "milestone" for the plan. "It would provide the trigger for a dozen or so property schemes, transforming the economic fortunes of the area by creating a magnet for south London shoppers and laying the groundwork for a resurgence in business and new residents," its article adds. The paper said Croydon has experienced a "slow and sometimes painful decline" since the 1960s and 1970s and that the story of the last decade has been "one of failed development" capped by the August 2011 riots. It said residents "tantalised in recent years by false hopes for the town's renaissance" have something to be positive about. Louis Buckland, 18, told the paper: "I hope it will shift perceptions. A lot of my friends are fed up living in Croydon. You say the word and people think of the riots." Independent trader Mark Sawyer wants to sell perfumes in the new Westfield. The redevelopment, he says, has "got to be good for Croydon". "The shops here are old and outdated. It needs to happen."The Guardian said Croydon had "suffered through more than a decade of underinvestment" and a "widely held perception the area is not safe". Like other papers, it points to the riots in August 2011, describing in particular the destruction of House of Reeves as "the lasting image of the violent unrest". That could be about to change, it says, after Westfield and Hammerson ended their battle of wills and came together to create the plan that was approved by the council's Strategic Planning Committee last night (Monday). The paper acknowledges the "huge" hope and expectation behind the deal, but says the developers "have their work cut out to convince people that Croydon is a welcoming place for families". An article in The Times, which is behind a paywall, said Croydon is known for being "concrete, ugly and the butt of the country's 'worst town' jokes" but could now be in line for a "makeover". It quotes the Hammerson/Westfield partnership as claiming the 1.5 million sq ft retail and leisure scheme could be "the blueprint for a modern town in a digital age". What do you think of plans for a Westfield shopping centre in Croydon? Let us know below
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