MIDDLE East investors are becoming increasingly interested in Croydon's property market, according to an expert.
Mark Collins, chair of commercial property group CBRE, said money from the Gulf – once spent on bricks and mortar in central London's affluent districts – is now filtering its way down to the borough, with interest growing in a series of high-end town centre developments.
Mr Collins said Middle East clients had traditionally centred their investment interest on areas such as Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Kensington and Chelsea.
But interest was spreading to what he described as "the lower end of the market" – and he believes that is good news for Croydon.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Collins said: "In the past six or seven weeks, I have spoken to clients in the Middle East who have asked about private rented accommodation and sales opportunities in Croydon, which is undergoing regeneration and is in striking distance of London.
"It used to be that Gulf buyers were only interested in being within walking distance of Harrods – that has completely changed."
He added that as central London became less affordable with price increases of 44 per cent since the pre-crash peak, working people and families are moving further out, resulting in a wider geographic spread of rental opportunities.
The trend of moving from central London has been reflected over the past year at Berkeley Homes' Saffron Square development in Wellesley Road, which has experienced increased sales to people wanting to move into Croydon – while retaining speedy transport links with central London.
And Earlier this year, the Advertiser reported how the Island development, also in Wellesley Road, was attracting worldwide interest, with some flats selling for as much as £1.2 million.
Mr Collins' predictions for a bright future for Croydon's property market received a cautious welcome from Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon Council's cabinet member for homes and regeneration.
She said: "Croydon is the regeneration capital of London. The key, however, is to protect homes for local people."
This is one of the key factors behind the council's policy of negotiating with developers to include 30 per cent affordable homes in their developments, as well as looking to pull out of permitted development rights."
Cllr Butler said: "We don't want to see property being bought up by investors then left empty."