CROYDON'S major businesses have joined forces to ensure their interests are protected during the town's regeneration.
The Croydon Occupiers' Forum is a joint initiative from the Croydon Business Improvement District (BID) and Develop Croydon and the first meeting was attended some of the town's major employers including Allianz Global Assistance, Mott MacDonald, AIG and Zurich Insurance.
Matthew Sims, chief executive of the BID, said: "The fact that Westfield and Hammerson are coming together to redevelop the Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres is a great news story for Croydon and we want to make sure that momentum is continued."
Coupled with other redevelopment projects already under way to bring homes and jobs to Croydon, there was renewed interest and confidence in the future.
But Mr Sims said: "In doing that it is important that we retain the companies we have here at the moment."
Mike Webb, chairman of Allianz, has already warned that in the longer term the company could be forced out of Croydon unless it can attract more skilled staff locally and more businesses are persuaded to move into the town.
Mr Sims said the new forum would provide a vehicle at which these types of concern could be raised and possible solutions talked through.
He said: "Every organisation has issues ranging from the perceptions of Croydon to improving the security and cleanliness of the town.
"I believe the occupiers' forum can turn into a very good lobbying arm for businesses in the town and help deliver positive changes for Croydon."
Richard Plant, chairman of the Develop Croydon Forum, added: "We want to make sure that Croydon occupiers are given a voice that ensures the council, the Greater London Authority and developers take into consideration the needs of employers and employees during this period of change and beyond."
The intention is for the Occupiers' Forum to meet three times a year.
Mr Sims said: "Last week's meeting was very much about setting the scene and making sure everyone understood the issues and concerns.
"At the next meeting in June we will be focusing on more detailed objectives."