Monday, 20 January 2014

Maximising Croydon’s Growth Potential Within London and the South East

I emailed these notes to Councillors re-the Croydon Cabinet meeting discussion on  20 January on economic development strategy and its role in Local Economic Partnerships. The Cabinet paper can be seen at:

Although Local Economic Partnerships have no real resources they are the only fora available which have Government backing. It is clearly vital that Croydon Council should be active in both partnerships in order:

·         to have access to information that allows it to identify opportunities and threats, and to tease out how to develop a more diverse and resilient local economic base. 
·         To ensure that they can work as effectively as possible.

Potential Threats  

·         The high level of empty offices across London (11% November 2011.  (Note: up to July last year the Shard had signed up no more than 10% tenants a year after its opening with tenants not moving in until this year. This despite London Mayor Boris Johnson’s stating at the opening that it would be a 'commercial magnet'.)
·         The attraction to many tenants of high rent hot spots like Hammersmith (£47sqf) and Chiswick (£49sqf) over double the cost in Croydon and Gatwick. (Source: Q3 2013. M25 OFFICES. Investment, development & occupier markets. Frank Knight.
·         The loss of Nestles to Gatwick suggesting that any expansion of the airport and its employment infrastructure could be detrimental for Croydon in its attempt to retain existing and attract new office development.
·         The future attraction of the office developments planned for the Vauxhall Nine Elms and Battersea Opportunity Area, which has the full backing of the Mayor of London and the Government.


·         Access to the £15m+ funding awarded by the Government to the Coast to Capital LEP. (Unfortunately the website is being re-constructed at the moment so details of its work cannot be seen.)
·         Identify how other parts of the Borough  can benefit from encouraging diversity in economic development.
·         Work with the Croydon Tech City movement on IT and digital development issues, including ways in which CTC can be involved with the LEPs.
·         Work with the Croydon social sector (inc. charities, community and voluntary groups, mutuals and social enterprises) which plays an important role in the local economy, including ways in which it can be involved on the LEPs.
·         Encourage cross links with the South London Partnership and Wandle Forum in relation to the economic development potential along the river valley linked to the Regional Park and environmental improvement priorities.

Principles for Engagement

The following principles could usefully underpin Croydon’s economic development approach and its engagement with the LEPs.

·         Thriving community and voluntary sector able to respond to challenges in order to support vulnerable communities, and help ready a locality for change through increasing community capacity and by encouraging local enterprise development through the social sector;

·         Strong civic engagement as people value the opportunity to live in an area where they have a strong say in how their area is run and feel part of the democratic process;

•      Strong public sector  which understands its economic footprint and uses this impact effectively to support local economies through procurement, employment and as a landowner;

·         Diverse finance sector especially financial services which can help to support and encourage local circulation of money;

·         High levels of diversity in the economy and active discouragement of  dependence on any one sector or aspect of that sector;

·         Effective public services ensuring that the most vulnerable in society are cared for and tackling issues relating to income inequality which can be bad for the local economy.

·         Closer integration of land use planning with economic development as  a high quality environment attracts people to the area either to work or live, including public green space, sports facilities and emphasis on environmental conservation.

Strong provision for young people to encourage the development of a future labour force that can take advantage of the best opportunities for the local economy

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