A "MOMENTOUS" leap forward in Croydon's regeneration began this week as work started on redeveloping a key site which has stood derelict for more than 40 years.
Tuesday's official groundbreaking ceremony heralded the start of the first phase of Stanhope/Schroder's Ruskin Square development.
The development, made up of a plinth and 22-storey tower, will provide 161 homes close to East Croydon Station.
Working with housing group Places for People, the apartments will comprise a mixture of private homes, shared ownership and rent.
It also includes penthouses, a roof garden and a private communal open space.
A sales launch of the apartments is planned for early next year.
The block is part of an overall redevelopment of the nine-acre site site which will eventually include 625 homes, 1.25 million sq ft of offices and 100,000 sq ft of shops, cafes and restaurants.
The development will move forward again in the second quarter of next year when work starts on a speculative office building.
Councillor Alison Butler, the council's cabinet member for homes and regeneration, joined with Ian Mason, head of UK Specialist Funds at Schroder Property, and Mary Parsons, from Places for People, at Tuesday's ceremony.
Cllr Butler said: "When you are talking about the regeneration of Croydon, this site has always been a key part of that." She said the area was one of the first things people saw when they arrived at East Croydon Station and its redevelopment would, at last, give a good impression of how Croydon is moving forward.
Cllr Butler added: "To see a building going up is momentous.
"Having new homes and new community build is really important to Croydon's regeneration.
"We have a diverse community and this development will bring new people and jobs and will help change the face of Croydon. It should be celebrated across the borough."
Mr Mason said Schroders and Stanhope had been working on bringing about the development for "many years" and he was delighted that a start had been made on bringing about their vision for a "great gateway site."
He said: "Croydon has always made sense for us. You can't dwell on history, the important thing is that is happening now.
"The Westfield/Hammerson development has been the major catalyst to kick start the regeneration of Croydon.
"Getting the timing right for our development is very important and we think the time is now right."
Steve O'Connell, Croydon's London Assembly member, also welcomed the start of work.
He said: "We are telling people who come to East Croydon that great things are happening here."