Whitgift Centre

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Whitgift Centre
Whitgift Centre - North End entrance.jpg
Main entrance to Whitgift Centre from North End, Croydon
General information
Type Shopping centre/Offices and Car park
Town or city Croydon, London
Current tenants Boots The Chemists, Holland & Barrett, New Look, River Island, Sainsbury's Central
Inaugurated 1970
Client Howard Holdings plc
Owner Whitgift Foundation
Landlord The Croydon Partnership (Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield/Hammerson plc)
Technical details
Floor area 1,300,000 square feet (120,000 m2)[1]
Design and construction
Architect Anthony Minoprio
Architecture firm Geddes Architects
Main contractor Fitzroy Robinson & Partners

The Whitgift Centre is a large shopping centre and office development in the centre of Croydon, London, opened in stages between 1968 and 1970.[1] The centre comprises 1,302,444 sq ft (121,001 m2) of retail space. It was the largest covered shopping development in Greater London until the opening of Westfield London at White City in October 2008. Hammerson and Westfield have formed a joint venture to redevelop the shopping mall and combine it with neighbouring Centrale.[2]


Interior of Whitgift Centre from Wellesley Road entrance

The name comes from John Whitgift, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. The freehold of the Centre is owned by the Whitgift Foundation, a charity registered in England & Wales.[3] They sold a long term lease to a company 75% owned and controlled by Howard Holdings plc, and 25% by the Whitgift Foundation themselves. Designed by Geddes Architects, the centre was built on the site of Whitgift Middle School, renamed Trinity School of John Whitgift in 1954, which moved to a new site at Shirley Park in 1965.


1990s view of the redeveloped Whitgift Centre

The centre was designed by Anthony Minoprio and built between 1965 and 1970 by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners. Commenting in 1971, architectural historians Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner stated that "most of the architectural details are banal, but the centre functions unusually well as a shopping precinct".[4]

In the first two decades of its existence, the Whitgift Centre had no roof and was open to the elements.

Whitgift Square in Whitgift Centre
Sainsbury's Square

The first shop to open was Boots on 17 October 1968, and the centre itself was officially opened in October 1970 by the Duchess of Kent.[1] In the middle of the Whitgift Centre there was a Roman-themed pub called The Forum. In the 1990s, the centre was almost completely rebuilt to an atrium design, and the Forum pub was demolished.


The Wellesley Road entrance

The shopping centre is on three storeys. The upper two are for retail, and the basement provides vehicle access to all the retail units, with a 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) network of service roads.

The Centre adjoins the now closed Allders department store, which has substantial frontage onto the Centre. The office accommodation consists of five tower blocks rising above the shopping centre.

The other major shopping centre in central Croydon is Centrale, owned by Hammerson, on the other side of the street named North End. Both centres are jointly marketed.


As part of Croydon Vision 2020, plans to develop and expand the centre were formalised by leaseholder and landlord Howard Holdings plc, for which a planning application was submitted. Construction of the extension was due to start in 2009 and be finished in 2014, as promised by Geddes Architects who were the main contractor.

In 2010, Howard Holdings went into administration.[5][6] Their 75% of the lease company and management of the centre is now managed by their administrators, on behalf of Royal London Asset Management and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

In mid-2011, two companies were invited to pitch for the redevelopment: Australian-based Westfield Group and UK-French based Hammerson. The Whitgift Foundation came to a binding agreement with Westfield for a £1bn redevelopment scheme. However, RLAM/IBRC preferred Hammerson, and so came to an alternate agreement, announcing Hammerson as the winner in April 2012.[7] Although RLAM/IBRC owned 75% of the leasehold company, no development could take place without the agreement of the freeholder, the Whitgift Foundation. In mid-2012, the joint leaseholders agreed on a public consultation of the two rivals and their schemes. The winner was to be granted a long-term lease, subject to redevelopment.[8]

In January 2013 Hammerson and Westfield formed a joint venture to redevelop the shopping mall. The joint venture company will purchase a 25% interest in the Whitgift Centre, following completion of Hammerson's conditional acquisition agreement with Royal London. Under the new agreement, they intend to redevelop and combine the two main Croydon shopping centres, the Whitgift Centre and Centrale. The mixed use scheme of around 200,000 m2 will include retail, leisure and residential use with the potential for hotels and offices.[2]

On 25 November 2013 the redevelopment plan was approved by Croydon Council, subject to final approval by the Mayor of London on 27 November.[9] Subsequently, plans were revised and (in 2016) with the expected start date for works is 2017, with completion due by 2020. These were revised again with the planning application now being decided upon in 2017 with construction to commence in 2018.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Have you been around as long as Whitgift?". Croydon Guardian. 15 September 2010. p. 2. 
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Charity Commission. The Whitgift Foundation, registered charity no. 312612. 
  4. ^ Nairn & Pevsner 1971, pp. 118–119.
  5. ^ "Anglo restructures securities on assets of Howard Holdings". Irishtimes.com. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "Failure Page". Wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Hammerson chosen over Westfield to redevelop Whitgift shopping centre". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Westfield unveils plans for Croydon shopping centre - BBC News". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  9. ^ David Churchill (26 November 2013). "Croydon Westfield set to go ahead after planners support £1bn scheme | London | News | London Evening Standard". Standard.co.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "CROYDON PARTNERSHIP SUBMITS ENHANCED OUTLINE PLANNING APPLICATION FOR REDEVELOPMENT OF CROYDON'S RETAIL CENTRE | Croydon Partnership". www.thecroydonpartnership.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 


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Coordinates: 51°22′33″N 0°06′02″W / 51.37583°N 0.10056°W / 51.37583; -0.10056