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.
Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.

2019-10-09

Room 151: "PWLB rate hike sends shockwaves through council finance sector"


Link to web site

"Whitehall today threw a hand grenade into local authority borrowing plans by announcing a whole percentage point increase in the rate of borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).

"Borrowing from the loan facility has continued to increase at a rapid rate in recent years due to record low rates on offer – with many using the money to invest in commercial property to produce a financial return to invest in services.

"In a letter to chief finance officers at local authorities sent on Wednesday, the Treasury's local government and reform team called a brutal halt to that spree with the rise, which takes immediate effect."

2019-09-19

Barnet Times: "Delayed Barnet regeneration scheme [by developer Hammerson] is 'being revised'" (As in trying to revive a dead parrot.)


Link to web site

"A plan for part of a major regeneration scheme that was put on hold last year is being revised, a council official has confirmed.

"New plans for the Brent Cross North scheme – set to include a revamped shopping centre – are expected to be submitted to Barnet Council in the next few months.

"It comes as the traditional UK retail market continues to face challenges from the rise of online shopping."

2019-08-01

Yahoo: "Hammerson swings to loss amid challenges to retailers"


Link to web site

"[Brent Cross] owner Hammerson has unveiled stinging losses as its portfolio of shopping centres slumped in value amid challenges to the high street.

"The retail property firm swung to a loss of £319.8 million in the six months to June 30, compared with a £55.7 million profit this time last year. On an adjusted basis, which is the company’s preferred measure, profits were down 10.5% to £107.4 million.

"The headline loss was largely down to a £423.4 million net revaluation loss on its property portfolio in the first half, as continuing market uncertainty and a slowdown in leasing affected value, especially in the UK. More than half of this was down to its flagship shopping destinations in the UK, which had a revaluation deficit of £266 million."

2019-07-07

Room 151: "The future for outsourcing after Barnet formula cracks"


Link to web site

"Internal reviews are rarely news but the announcement by London Borough of Barnet that it was reassessing its outsourcing deal and bringing key services back inhouse was a major moment.

"The decision by councillors, which was not widely publicised, was that 'the director of place role and the skills, employment and economic development (SEED) team from within the regeneration service, and the safety, health and wellbeing (SHaW) service, be returned to the council, subject to completion of the necessary financial due diligence.'

"Added to this, the council will decide in the autumn the future contractual arrangements with Capita for staff involved in the management and governance of the Brent Cross Cricklewood development scheme.

"Finance and Strategic HR had already transferred back to Barnet Council from Capita in April and the firm has already paid more than £4m in compensation."

2019-07-05

Palmers Green Community: "Preliminary meeting about plan to build housing on Arnos Grove station car parks"


Link to web site

"I braved the appropriately wet weather and went to this event this afternoon. There were quite a number of (vocal) people there and very little in the way of detail. I gleaned the following.

"This is (I was told) deliberately a preliminary consultation to see how locals react. A further consultation will take place later in the year, supposedly when more flesh will be on the bones. A similar event was held last night about similar plans for Cockfosters.

"Housing comprising 150 units is envisaged for the two Arnos car parks. The developer is Grainger plc, a long-established builder and rental landlord."

[Reposted] Barnet Times: "Major housing schemes planned for Barnet tube stations"


Link to web site

"A thousand homes could be built at tube stations in Barnet in a bid to ease the capital's housing shortage.

"Major developments are being planned at Finchley Central and High Barnet stations to provide housing, commercial space, improvements to the public realm and better connections for pedestrians.

"Drawn up by Transport for London (TfL), the proposals involve building 650 homes in Finchley Central and up to 350 in High Barnet – 40 per cent of which would be classed as affordable."

2019-06-27

ICO: "Access to information goes to the heart of a healthy, functioning democracy. Services that are accountable and transparent are better public services." (Tell Barnet.)






“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.”

2019-06-16

Natural History Museum: "Leading scientists set out resource challenge of meeting net zero emissions in the UK by 2050"


Link to web site

"To replace all UK-based vehicles today with electric vehicles (not including the LGV and HGV fleets), assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation NMC 811 batteries, would take 207,900 tonnes cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate (LCE), at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium, in addition to 2,362,500 tonnes copper.

This represents, just under two times the total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production during 2018. Even ensuring the annual supply of electric vehicles only, from 2035 as pledged, will require the UK to annually import the equivalent of the entire annual cobalt needs of European industry.

"The worldwide impact: If this analysis is extrapolated to the currently projected estimate of two billion cars worldwide, based on 2018 figures, annual production would have to increase for neodymium and dysprosium by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand."

2019-06-15

The Observer: "Left in a siding: the rail link that could make Heathrow greener"


"Airport and Department for Transport fight shy of backing new line from Staines that would slash car usage"


"Life is easy for the toads and bats of Staines-upon-Thames: the disused railway line has formed a woodland corridor that runs north towards Heathrow. Terminal 5 is just a mile or so further on as the bat flies. But to reach it from Staines station would take a hapless rail passenger almost two hours via three trains.

"That could drop to just six minutes under plans to link Staines and other parts of Surrey to the airport. Yet as Heathrow prepares for a major consultation on its third runway on Tuesday, new rail links are just an option, despite the argument that they would help tackle the airport's pollution problem. They would also be a clear answer to transport secretary Chris Grayling's call for 'market-led' proposals for new railway lines.

"As a precondition of Heathrow expansion, parliament has stipulated that the proportion of passengers travelling to and from the airport on public transport must rise from 39% to 50%."

2019-06-11

The Guardian: "Atmospheric carbon levels are leaping. We can't afford more years like this"


Link to web site

"One of the many ironies of the climate crisis is that as temperatures change and extreme weather becomes more common, we need more energy to maintain comfort. Hotter summers have driven an increase in power-hungry air conditioning and cooler temperatures in some places – which may be driven by the melting Arctic – raise demand for heating.

"BP's report that carbon emissions from energy use have risen at the fastest rate in nearly a decade reflects those forces, as well as continuing demand from a rising global population and expanding industries.

"The effect is already discernible in the atmosphere. Last week, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that carbon dioxide levels in the air leapt this year by the second highest amount in their records, to 414.8 parts per million, at the famous observatory in Mauna Loa where CO2 has been measured continuously since 1958."

2019-06-07

Wembley Matters: "'Full participation on Brent Cross West Station plans or we will go to law,' Capita-Barnet told"


Link to web site

"The Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross was formed a long time ago and consisted of several political groups, including the Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Labour politicians as well as individuals. trade councils and community organisations. It has had ups and downs as the plans ebbed and flowed but Alison Hopkins has written to Capita-Barnet, who handle the Brent Cross Thames Link project, calling for full public participation ahead of the submission of any planning application for Brent Cross West station.

"... The collapse of the car-based Brent Cross shopping centre expansion has met one of main aims of the Coalition, which has been to oppose Barnet council’s predicted 29,000 extra car journeys every day in the area. That has been opposed based on both unwanted road congestion and what is now called the global heating emergency.



2019-05-01

Retail Gazette: "Hammerson shareholders rebel over exec pay at AGM"


Link to web site

"Hammerson has been dealt a blow by shareholders who voted in anger over excessive executive pay at the company’s AGM yesterday.

"Nearly 30 per cent of the shopping centre giant's investors rejected its remuneration report, which featured multimillion-pound share payouts to Hammerson executives.

"Prior to the AGM, shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) urged investors to vote against the report due to concerns over stock awards and bonuses worth millions dished out to top executives, including boss David Atkins."

2019-03-30

[Reposted] The Guardian: "‘We are building our way to hell’: tales of gentrification around the world"


"From community displacement in Mexico City to tourism-triggered evictions in Lisbon and crazy rent hikes in Silicon Valley, our readers shared stories of gentrification happening in their cities – and the initiatives trying to tackle it"

Link to web site

"Here gentrification happens very quickly. Every month some 'nice' restaurant or shop opens. The old name of my neighbourhood (Kinkerbuurt) was changed and rebranded to 'Hallenkwartier'. I would enjoy many of the changes if I knew others could enjoy it as well. But poor people have to leave, social housing is sold off, and rich people and tourists move in.

"There was a squatting action, a demonstration and protests against the rebranding of the neighbourhood. I have seen posters and banners on houses. But the city council is just selling off social housing. Waiting time for a house in this neighbourhood used to be eight years, now it is 18 years."

"...We have a great tradition of social housing corporations in the Netherlands – some cities had 50% social housing. Now the whole way of thinking is about extracting money, not creating communities. When prices go up, they say ‘the market is doing well’. When scarcity is applauded, that is very wrong."

2019-02-26

Construction Enquirer: "Hammerson puts major construction work on hold"


"Hammerson has put a hold on starting construction of any major developments in the UK"
[There's a surprise]

Link to web site

"The developer is focusing on selling more than £500m of property assets to pay down debts while values continue to fall in the UK.

"Hammerson confirmed last summer that it will be delaying the start of a planned £1.4bn extension of the Brent Cross shopping centre where Laing O’Rourke is lined-up as main contractor.

"... Projects now on hold until 2020 at the earliest include Brent Cross, the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, and The Goodsyard in the City of London."

This is Money: "High Street crisis rocks shopping centre giant: Hammerson could be forced into £900m firesale as it plunges to loss and value of its properties slumps"


On the way out?
Link to web site

"Hammerson has plunged into the red following a disastrous year for the firm and its bosses.

"The shopping centre owner, whose retail empire includes the Bull Ring in Birmingham and London's Brent Cross Shopping Centre, swung to a £266.7million loss in 2018 having made a profit of £413.4million in 2017.

"It was hit by a £622million slump in the value of its estate, a 6.2 per cent decline in rental income, and an increase in the number of empty stores at its shopping centres and retail parks."

[Other than that,...]

Barnet Times: "Brent Cross Shopping Centre owner to sell assets to pay debts"


Link to web site

"Shopping centre owner Hammerson, owner of Brent Cross, has reported millions of pounds in losses, and says it will sell off some of its investments to pay off its debt worth over £3 billion.

"In July 2018, the company said it would be selling £1.1 billion of its investments, properties and estates over a two-year period.

"The news has been met with some trepidation as people fear the losses and the selling off of assets may harm Brent Cross or people's jobs."

2019-02-25

Hammerson collapse: "Bullring owner targets £900m-plus sell-off as retail crisis bites"


Link to The Guardian

"Hammerson, which owns shopping centres including Birmingham's Bullring and London's Brent Cross, is in talks to sell off more than £900m of property after being hit by the crisis in Britain's retail sector.

"The FTSE 250-listed firm said it was in active discussions to offload more than £900m of assets, far exceeding its £500m target for 2019. Last year it sold off £570m of property, with the average price 7% below the book value in December 2017.

"Hammerson is under pressure from an activist investor, the US hedge fund Elliott Advisors, which owns a 5% stake in the company, to speed up disposals, after a 9.3% decline in its property values in 2018."




Inside Croydon:
"Hammerson raise more fears for £1.4bn Croydon scheme"

Link to Inside Croydon

"Hammerson, the owners of Centrale, one half of the 'Croydon Partnership' which was supposed to be starting work on the £1.4billion redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre in central Croydon this autumn, has this morning announced that it has put all its major construction projects on hold, and is instead focusing on flogging off more than £500million of property assets to pay down its company debts while the values of its properties continue to fall."

2019-02-17

Inside Croydon: "Barwell, Brexit and Croydon's troubled Westfield/Hammerson dream"


"STEVEN DOWNES on how the meddling of Tory politicians and the Croydon Establishment managed to ensure that the redevelopment of Croydon town centre was never going to run smoothly"

Link to web site

"Questions were asked in the House of Commons recently which saw Croydon, the Westfield/Hammerson centre and Brexit all mentioned in the same breath. Things must be bad.

In one important respect, the gloomy predictions about the outcome of Brexit and Westfield’s dalliance with Croydon town centre have been linked from the start.

"Because both have had considerable input from an Oxbridge-educated public schoolboy, who has never held down a proper job in his life, and landed his latest state-funded position because of who he knows, rather than what he knows."



2019-02-14

Decline and Fall of Hammerson: "Fears for mall increase as Hammerson takes a hammering"


"Our retailing correspondent, MT WALLETTE, on how the plunging share price for HAMMERSON, half of the so-called 'Croydon Partnership'. could see the redevelopment of the town centre postponed … permanently"

On the way out? Link to 'Inside Croydon'

"The stock market is becoming increasingly nervous about the valuation of one of the major players in the long-promised regeneration of Croydon town centre, to the extent that there is a growing fear that one half of the “Croydon Partnership” could be forced to pull the plug on the £1.4-billion project.

"Much of the focus on the redevelopment of the increasingly dilapidated Whitgift Centre has so far been on developer Westfield and their plans for the super-mall, which was first revealed in 2012 but is now running at least six years late on its original 2017 completion date.

"However, it is the falling share price of Hammerson, the mall operators who own Centrale and who are the other half of the Croydon Partnership, where the biggest worries for the future of the 'Hammersfield' project now lie.

Inside Croydon: "Crisis for Croydon as [Hammerson and] Westfield 'review' their £1.4bn scheme"


Link to web site

"Hammerson and Westfield today announced a decision to 'review' the £1.4-billion project to redevelop Croydon Town Centre, blaming Brexit and uncertainties over the retail sector.

"In so doing, they immediately claimed 2019's No Shit Sherlock award.

"The scheme to rebuild the ageing Whitgift Centre and link it with Hammerson's Centrale mall on the opposite side of North End in Croydon town centre has been promised by Westfield and Hammerson since 2012."




A second Hammerson scheme collapses: Evening Standard: "Hammerson/Westfield's £1.4bn Croydon development 'under review due to Brexit and structural changes on the high street'"


Link to web site

"The owner of the Westfield shopping centres today said it is 'reviewing' its £1.4 billion new development in Croydon because of Brexit and 'structural changes' on the high street."

"Work on the centre, which is hoped to be the catalyst for broader regeneration, was due to start in September but is now not expected to begin until next year."

"The plans for the scheme, being built jointly by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and property company Hammerson, were approved in November 2017 and got the green light from Sadiq Khan in January last year."

2019-02-02

The Guardian: "‘The devastation of human life is in view’: what a burning world tells us about climate change"


I was wilfully deluded until I began covering global warming, says David Wallace-Wells. But extreme heat could transform the planet by 2100

Link to web site

"I have never been an environmentalist. I don’t even think of myself as a nature person. I've lived my whole life in cities, enjoying gadgets built by industrial supply chains I hardly think twice about. I've never gone camping, not willingly anyway, and while I always thought it was basically a good idea to keep streams clean and air clear, I also accepted the proposition that there was a trade-off between economic growth and cost to nature – and figured, well, in most cases I'd go for growth. I'm not about to personally slaughter a cow to eat a hamburger, but I'm also not about to go vegan.

"In these ways – many of them, at least – I am like every other American who has spent their life fatally complacent, and wilfully deluded, about climate change, which is not just the biggest threat human life on the planet has ever faced, but a threat of an entirely different category and scale. That is, the scale of human life itself.

"... The majority of the burning [global warming] has come in the last 25 years – since the premiere of Seinfeld. Since the end of the second world war, the figure is about 85%. The story of the industrial world’s kamikaze mission is the story of a single lifetime – the planet brought from seeming stability to the brink of catastrophe in the years between a baptism or barmitzvah and a funeral."

2019-01-20

Hammerson: Brent Cross and Croydon: two collapsed development schemes


"It is six years to the day since Westfield and Hammerson said that, jointly, they would redevelop central Croydon. KEN LEE, our Town Hall reporter, on the increasingly beleaguered mood among senior council figures"

Link to 'Inside Croydon'

"This week marks six years since the 'marriage of convenience' between Hammerson and Westfield was announced over the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre. Then, the shiny new temple to retailing was all supposed to be rebuilt and open for business by 2017. Now, no one appears to know when it might open, or even if it ever will.

Last June, Croydon Council's chief executive, Jo Negrini and council officials were reporting that demolition work on the old shopping mall would begin in September 2019. At the Town Hall this week, that start date had been put back, at least until after Christmas.

Any further delays to the redevelopment of the town centre will be a massive blow to Negrini, the self-proclaimed 'regeneration practitioner'. Last year, when asked whether her council had a fall-back position in case Westfield decided not to go ahead with the scheme, Negrini responded, 'We're not stupid.' It seems increasingly likely that councillors from the majority Labour group as well as opposition Tories will soon be asking for Negrini to share with them what her 'Plan B' really is."

West London Orbital: Using the Dudding Hill Line to Hendon and Cricklewood, and Thomas the Tank Engine's ride on the line from Acton Main Line station to Cricklewood station








2019-01-13

New Town Utopia (2017) - The First 5 Minutes




The first 5 minutes of the documentary film 'New Town Utopia' released in 2018. A film about the state of the nation, the power of art... and some rather angry puppets.

NOW AVAILABLE TO BUY ONLINE + DVD. FOR MORE INFO GO TO: WWW.NEWTOWNUTOPIA.COM

Produced and Directed by Christopher Ian Smith (citizensmith.net) and Executive Produced by Margaret Matheson (Sid and Nancy, Scum, Sleep Furiously).

2018-12-25

2019: "The US is on the edge of the economic precipice – Trump may push it over"


Link to The Guardian

"... After the 1929 crash, the government invented new ways to boost the wages of most Americans – social security, unemployment insurance, overtime pay, a minimum wage, the requirement that employers bargain with labor unions, and, finally, a full-employment program called the second world war.

"By contrast, after the 2007 crash the government bailed out the banks and pumped enough money into the economy to stop the slide. But apart from the Affordable Care Act, nothing was done to address the underlying problem of stagnant wages.

"Ten years after the start of the Great Recession, we face another economic precipice."

2018-12-24

Nothing from Santa for Hammerson: "Ghosts of Christmas past come to haunt the Whitgift Centre"


Link to 'Inside Croydon'

"... I cross over North End from Whitgift to have a look at Centrale, the slightly more upmarket (I feel I am damning with faint praise here) sister shopping centre (this wholly-owned by Hammerson, the other half of the 'Croydon Partnership'). This is where, according to the display in the Whitgift, 'many of the existing shops… can move during the redevelopment', so I take a look to see if there is room for such a retail migration. There is room.

"There are more eerily empty spaces in Centrale. The two elves employed to shepherd children into Santa’s grotto chat to each other in front of the optimistically long and totally empty queuing area.

"The surreal world of the commercial estate agent is exposed in the great empty space that links Debenhams to Centrale's main stairwell."

2018-12-17

The Guardian: "'Peak stuff', interest rates and a dollop of Brexit have retailers worried". Plus Hammerson worries


"The UK high street is suffering and now even online outlets are feeling the pinch"

Link to web site

"... Reports from retailers for November have been downbeat. Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, said the start of the Christmas period was 'unbelievably bad'. The monthly report from the payment company Visa found that spending in November was down for a second month. The online clothing firm, Asos sent share prices of the entire UK retail sector lower on Monday when it issued a profits warning after much worse than expected November sales.

"In truth, retailers have been hit by a number of disparate factors simultaneously. Factor number one is that during a period when budgets have been squeezed, consumers have put a higher priority on going out than they have on buying things, leading to speculation that the UK might have reached 'peak stuff'.

"Factor number two is the increased tendency for people to shop online, where the prices tend to be lower and parking is not a problem. Bricks-and-mortar retailers are having a really tough time, with footfall down and costs up."



Just Fancy That

"Shopping centre owner Hammerson has been accused of understating its true debt position through creative accounting. Hammerson has kept its headline loan-to-value (LTV) - the ratio of its debts to its assets - below its self-imposed 40% limit by accounting for its retail outlets business, which includes the popular Bicester Village, in a way that is the most flattering, rather than most appropriate, according to Barclays analyst Paul May." - Sunday Times

"Struggling shopping centre owner Hammerson is attempting to fill empty space by playing the traditional role of department stores, renting out concessions direct to small brands. With House of Fraser, Debenhams and even John Lewis under pressure, the owner of the Bullring in Birmingham and Brent Cross in London is faced with unoccupied property and so is seeking to assemble its own collection of fashion, beauty and food concessions on floors formerly used by department stores." - Sunday Telegraph


2018-11-01

BBC: "More than 200 UK shopping centres 'in crisis'"


Link to web site

"More than 200 UK shopping centres are in danger of falling into administration, experts are warning.

The demise of 'major anchor stores' like BHS and Toys R Us and the rise of online shopping has caused a 'downward spiral', analyst Nelson Blackley said.

"Many of the at-risk centres are owned by US private equity firms under deals that will need refinancing.

"... Mr Mead, head of shopping centre asset management at APAM, said:
"The problem is, these centres are run by investors who have a short-term approach and haven't the skill-sets or investments to embrace the kind of changes required. There needs to be a joint venture created with local communities to fix the problem."

2018-10-28

The Observer: "Cars or clean air? Cheltenham's Boots Corner becomes the new battleground"


"As air pollution fears rise, Cheltenham 'put people before traffic' and banned cars from part of its centre. But not everyone is happy"

Link to web site

"... The battle of Boots Corner is a quintessentially local issue – a council at odds with residents over changes to road layouts, with an undercurrent of party political tension between a Lib Dem-run authority and a Tory MP. But it is also emblematic of a national and international problem: how to reduce congestion and pollution in town and city centres, and create greener, cleaner and safer environments, while improving the efficiency with which people and goods move from A to B.

"Almost all planners agree the key is persuading people to reduce car use – but that will require a massive change in culture and attitudes alongside tangible improvements to public transport. Some suggest the tension between individual liberty and social benefit is akin to the issue of banning smoking in public places. It is almost unfathomable now that 30 years ago people were permitted to smoke on planes and in cinemas; it may take another generation to change car culture, they say.

" 'More and more towns and cities are considering measures. The data on air quality is so compelling that people will start demanding it,' said James Cleeton of Sustrans, which campaigns to increase walking and cycling. 'We understand people are reluctant to get out of their cars but there are massive positives to them as individuals and to society in general.'"

2018-10-23

London Borough of Barnet: Local Cunning Plan: Local Development Scheme (before the next one)







7 Oct: FT: "Landlords struggle to offload billions in UK retail property"


"High street woes prompt rush to reduce exposure to [retail] sector"

Subscribe to FT

"UK landlords are struggling to offload billions of pounds' worth of shopping centres and retail parks, as the crisis in bricks-and-mortar retail ripples into the property sector.

"At least £2.5bn of retail properties are currently being marketed, according to FT data based on information from agents, while some property companies privately place the total available to buy as high as £5bn.

" 'Everything is for sale. Nobody wants to own this stuff,' said one agent in the sector. 'The bid-offer spread between holders' expectations and the prices that buyers are willing to pay is just a chasm.'

"The attempted sales follow a string of high-profile collapses in the retail sector, as chains face up to the shift in consumer spending habits away from the high street.

"House of Fraser, Maplin, Poundworld and Toys R Us have all fallen into administration this year, while chains including Mothercare have closed stores as part of agreements with creditors.

"As consumers move purchases online, physical retail has suffered despite growth in overall sales. Retailers have also had to contend with rising wage and tax bills.

"... Public markets are also pessimistic about the sector. Hammerson, the specialist shopping centre landlord, currently trades at a discount of 40 per cent to the value of its assets, according to Numis Securities."

2018-09-07

Inside Croydon: "Newman hails 'key milestone' as CPO begins for Hammerson-Westfield"


Link to web site

"It is six years since the vast supermall and flats scheme was announced, and it is three years since a Government-appointed inspector presided over an inquiry to approve the terms of a Compulsory Purchase Order of a vast swathe of property in Croydon town centre.

"... Few have actually had an opportunity to see the detail of what the developers, under their altered, second iteration of the scheme, intend to impose on the borough's commercial centre. Indeed, only last month it was reported that Peter Cole, Hammerson’s departing director, admitted that detailed designs haven't even yet been started.

"Just what surprises might they have in store? Or will Croydon be lumbered with the world's most expensive pig in a poke?"