This 5 year Economic Development Plan has been assembled
We need to work hard to enhance Croydon’s position as a key regional employment hub for London and the South East. Our public transport network and connectivity to Central London and Gatwick and our road links into the UK motorway network are a major advantage that we will utilise to, for example, promote to key intermediary bodies and locational decision makers for inward following a series of consultation events and face to face meetings with key stakeholders including private sector businesses and public and third sector agencies. This document therefore identiﬁes the key themes, priorities and delivery mechanisms to achieve our overall long term vision of being London’s most enterprising area by 2040. investment purposes.
An overarching principle of those involved in the development of this strategic document surrounded the need for the document to be active and evolving over the period. Therefore this is a plan rather than a strategy emphasising that the delivery of the actions is key. The Council also recognise that it is primarily the private
We are also fully aware that the effects of the prolonged economic downturn and public expenditure cutbacks require a different approach to economic development. There needs to be a greater recognition and push to provide for micro and SME businesses who increasingly will drive growth. Our commercial ofﬁce accommodation therefore needs to be re-engineered with smaller more ﬂexible ﬂoorplates and allied leasing arrangements. We will consider different emerging sectors with economic growth potential and how they can be encouraged to stay or come to Croydon.
This, in turn will require a more responsive education and training curriculum that equips our young people and residents with the skillsets to take up the opportunities as we move towards economic growth. Our new Innovation Centre is being developed with the aim of providing the support infrastructure to enable new high growth businesses to ﬂourish in Croydon. sector that will drive this agenda with the Council undertaking the enabling role of ensuring the right infrastructure and conditions are in place for businesses to thrive. In line with this understanding, the role of Croydon Congress, our local strategic partnership and Develop Croydon, an active forum for investors and developers will be essential. The plan will be owned by
Croydon Development and Cultural Partnership as the economic driving force of these partnership arrangements.
Thank you for your contributions to the development of this plan to date, we recognise the Plan is aimed much wider than those who took part in the consultation process. We should be assessed by our ability to deliver and very much welcome your ongoing input into this crucial plan on which Croydon’s economic prosperity will depend.
During the consultation exercises there was a high and welcome level of agreement as to the key priorities with an acceptance that during the ﬁrst phases of the 5 year lifecycle we must concentrate efforts on the redevelopment of Croydon Town Centre. This therefore forms the critical priority and driver from which other objectives will naturally ﬂow. For example, a modern vibrant town centre with the right mix of ofﬁce, housing, retail and leisure uses will assist us achieve our other priorities such as inward investment and business retention. The attractiveness of our town centre offering employees as well as residents and visitors’ high quality retail, restaurants, leisure and cultural facilities will in itself generate further investment. At the same time we will continue to support out district centres as important hubs of local services, employment and economic activity.
Councillor Vidhi Mohan
Cabinet Member, Communities and Economic Development
2contents introduction 4 setting the scene 5 improving the town centre 12 inward investment business retention 16 enterprise innovation 20 business promotion and delivery 23 employability and skills 25 key indicators 29 next steps 29
About this Plan Equalities considerations
This document, Croydon’s ﬁve-year Economic Development Plan, sets out the proposed interventions and commitments which will represent the ﬁrst phase towards achieving the borough’s 2040 vision.
The Plan has been developed taking into account Croydon’s diverse communities and business base. The delivery of the priorities for action and associated interventions will have an impact both on the future of Croydon’s economy and more importantly on the lives of Croydon’s residents.
Croydon’s vision was published in 2011 following a three-year programme of engagement with more than 20,000 residents who were asked to ‘imagine Croydon’ in 2040. That vision is: ‘In 2040 we will be London’s most enterprising borough – a city that fosters ideas, innovation and learning and provides skills, opportunity and a sense of belonging for all.’
The Plan addresses inequalities on several levels:
• It is aimed at generating economic growth and providing opportunities for all.
• It gives consideration to the economic realities within the district centres as these are hubs of economic activity delivering direct services to local people.
This Economic Development Plan identiﬁes the infrastructure improvements and investment, the business growth, the support for people and the metropolitan centre and district centre investments which are designed to move the borough towards that goal.
• It is aimed at increasing jobs density in Croydon which is of great importance when tackling inequalities at local level.
This cycle of the borough’s economic development will be extremely tough and Croydon Metropolitan Centre has been prioritised as the focus for much of the activity envisaged because of its potential to be a driver for the borough’s overall economy. However, Croydon’s other town and district centres provide essential roles and there must be a commitment to ensure the buoyancy of these district centres.
• It will tackle economic inactivity.
• It identiﬁes self-employment as one of the options for increasing the business base particularly across the district centres of the borough.
The ED Plan is about providing opportunities for people to become economically active through securing employment or becoming self-employed. At the same time it will bring about the needed infrastructure and inward investment to create the right conditions for businesses to grow and create more jobs to meet the need of the increasing population in the long run.
Croydon is 12 minutes from Central London and 14 minutes from
Gatwick Airport by train giving it an unrivalled strategic location in South London. By building on the borough’s locational strengths, there is the opportunity for Croydon to develop as a vital, modern employment hub which serves both London and the South East and, in turn, provides a range of opportunities for local people.
Croydon Council will continue its dialogue with the business community to ensure a partnership approach to achieving economic prosperity for the residents and businesses of the borough.
Croydon Council will:
• Enable businesses to do business.
• Consult with businesses before making decisions.
• Ensure that businesses have the tools to promote Croydon.
• Continue to be a reliable business partner.
• Croydon’s transport connections are exceptional. Commitments to extend capacity provide a huge opportunity as investors look for added value impacts during a time of ﬁnancial constraints and in general.
The current economic climate and changing demands from businesses mean that the borough is at a crossroads in terms of its economic future. In particular:
• The borough’s residents are better skilled than many parts of London – with the borough performing just below the London average in terms of the proportion of residents that have the top level skills (NVQ level 4 5). These high level skills are increasingly required by future employers as London’s employment becomes increasingly characterised by knowledge based industries. This progress needs to be maintained.
• There are almost 12,000 businesses operating in the borough but the number of private sector jobs has declined signiﬁcantly since 1998 and the public sector, a mainstay of the local economy for a number of decades, is itself now contracting.
• According to the 2011 Census information Croydon’s population is 363,400 making Croydon the largest local authority in London. Over the last 10 years Croydon’s population has increased by 32,813 people, which represents a 10% increase, which is 2.9% higher than the national average.
This trend will increase pressure on existing services and requires additional job opportunities to cater for the expected population increase.
• The employment rate is comparable with other areas but a high proportion of young people are out of work and there are pockets of the borough where economic inactivity is unacceptably high.
This document identiﬁes a series of commitments and aspirations aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities presented to the borough which in turn will help deliver the long-term vision. It draws heavily on work done in recent years in developing Croydon’s
Capital Strategy, Skills Employment Plan and the Opportunity
Area Planning Framework in relation to Croydon Town Centre.
• The borough has a signiﬁcant ofﬁce offer but many buildings do not provide the environment which modern occupiers demand.
• Historically, Croydon has been attractive to some of the largest employers in London but globalisation means that it is competing with international as well as national locations to retain those organisations and attract new ones. The borough’s commercial stock needs to diversify to foster start-ups, retain
SMEs as they grow as well as continue to attract larger organisations.
It is acknowledged that not everything can be achieved overnight in the current economic climate – some aspirations will only be achievable in the longer term but are relevant in the context of this
ﬁve year plan.
• 28 of the country’s 30 largest retail operators trade out of Croydon – but retail facilities are below those expected by modern shoppers and relatively few people see Croydon as an evening or overnight location.
5setting the scene
Allied incentives notably the New Homes Bonus will bring a boost to Council ﬁnances. The localisation of council tax and the introduction of Universal Credit are other areas which need to be monitored as to their potential impact on local economic growth.
Universal Credit with its design of ‘making work pay’ that will replace Jobseekers Allowance and the ‘passported beneﬁts’ (such as housing beneﬁt tax credits) will assist active jobseekers obtain jobs who are expected to be at least 35% better off when taking a job. Currently the difference between taking a job and remaining on beneﬁt can be as low as 10%.
National Policy Drivers
The resources available to Croydon Council to deliver the Economic
Development Plan are limited with the vast majority of public funding to support local economies channelled through various national, regional and sub-regional agencies. Moreover, the council also recognises that to deliver economic growth and prosperity for Croydon it is the private sector that will lead with the Council providing an ‘enabling role’ through the provision of the right infrastructure to let business and enterprise develop and thrive.
With regard to publicly funded provision the Government has introduced a series of policy initiatives and legislative changes to support local economic growth and the council will assess the relevance and suitability of these new initiatives to promote economic development within the borough.
National Skills Policy
Within this national policy priority area resides apprenticeships promotion and support for small and medium sized enterprises
(SMEs) with fewer than 250 employees. Croydon and its partner agencies within the Skills and Employment Strategy
Group (a borough-wide partnership between the public, private and community sector, leading on the skills and employment agenda) are actively involved in both the direct provision and promotion of apprenticeships with Croydon employers. The Group view apprenticeships as an ideal solution to future workforce development and local employment for borough residents.
The Government’s main methods and channels for assisting economic growth are:
The Localism Act became law in November 2011. It devolves greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and aims to give local communities more control over housing and planning decisions. Speciﬁc elements of the act such as Community Right to Challenge and the allied 2012 Public Services Social Value
Act may stimulate new (particularly social enterprise) service delivery models and ‘neighbourhood’ and grassroots enterprise development. Local authorities will also have more ﬂexibility to explore different avenues for delivering services under the power of general competence.
The Welfare Reform Act introduced a wide range of reforms that make the beneﬁts and tax credit system fairer and simpler by incentivising work through, for example, the introduction of Universal Credit which comes into effect in April 2013 with its overall aim of reducing worklessness and poverty.
Welfare to Work Programmes
From April 2011 Jobcentre Plus (JCP) increased ﬂexibility to make decisions on how best to help local people into work and can now deliver more personalised support to all customers.
Within the overall Government commitment of devolving powers from Whitehall there are a number of structural changes that come into effect in April 2013. These include business rate retention and council tax localisation that are based around the concept of ‘risk and reward’. There will be new ’ﬁnancial risks’ with local government ﬁnance increasingly being tied to the local economy and beneﬁts bill. For example, a relocation decision of a major business over which a local authority may have little control will have a signiﬁcant impact on its ﬁnances. It is therefore crucial for the whole council to be actively engaged in the positive promotion of Croydon as a ﬁrst class business location with agile, proactive services to attract and grow new and retain existing businesses within the borough.
JCP has also been given the responsibility to work with local businesses and organisations to support people through the ‘Get
Britain Working’ measures which include:
• Work Programme – The new Work Programme is the ﬂagship of the Government’s plans to reform welfare-towork provision in the UK. In Croydon the 3 main Prime
Contractors (i.e. service providers), Action for Employment
(A4E), Careers Development Group (CDG) and SEETEC are all members of the Skills and Employment Strategy Group.
6setting the scene
• New Enterprise Allowance – The new enterprise allowance (NEA) supports those local JSA registered unemployed who are looking to start a business by providing access to ﬁnance and valuable support from local entrepreneur mentors.
Growing Places Fund
The Growing Places Fund and its equivalent in London (the London
Growth Fund) is designed to get stalled sites for development moving again; provide additional funding for infrastructure projects already in the pipeline; and promote wider economic growth and the delivery of jobs and houses. The Growing Places Investment
Fund has provided funding to the Ruskin Square development.
The Government has also initiated a series of measures designed to promote sustainable growth through:
• Structural reform priorities that can beneﬁt the whole economy in planning, competition, trade and investment, regulation, access to ﬁnance and corporate governance.
The national inward investment arrangements take over the delivery of inward investment support from the former Regional
Development Agencies in England with the signing of a contract with UK Trade Investment whilst in London this will be managed through ‘London and Partners’ with which Croydon has developed a relationship with promoting the area to overseas investors.
• Removing barriers in sectors where there are clear opportunities for growth and where Government can make a difference, starting with the following sectors: construction; retail; healthcare and life sciences; professional and business services; advanced manufacturing; and digital and creative industries. Two mechanisms to support delivery included in this are Tax Increment Finance, to support key infrastructure and other capital investments, and the New Homes Bonus, to incentivise local planning authorities to increase housing provision. The latter has particular attraction to Croydon with planning permissions already in place for 7,500 new homes in the town centre and other pipeline developments in, for example, Cane Hill.
Business Link retained a national web service providing online support to individuals and businesses advising them on starting, improving and growing their business online at
There are a number of national schemes for businesses to support their growth potential such as those looking for an experienced business mentor schemes to identify and accelerate growth such as Growth Accelerator Scheme http://
This development forms an element of the emerging ‘enterprise’ support framework for the borough led
Skills and Employment Strategy Group.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)
Local areas are able to take a lead in developing economic growth through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) whose role is to act as the sub-regional coordinating body for economic development and regeneration. Croydon is a member of the Coast to Capital
LEP and will support the work of the recently established LEP for
London – the ‘London Enterprise Panel’.
There are two major funding programmes managed through the LEPs:
In response to the challenge of youth unemployment the Government announced a £1billion Youth Contract to help young unemployed people get a job. The Youth Contract, which launched in April 2012, will provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for 18-24 year olds, including apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements.
Regional Growth Fund (RGF)
The £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund is operating between 2011 and 2014. It has been designed to support the creation of private sector employment in those areas of the country likely to face the most substantial fall in public sector employment. The emphasis is on the direct involvement of the private sector in formulating bids to the RGF.
In Croydon, take up to date has been slow and Croydon will be working with providers over the coming months to promote the programme to employers across the borough.
7setting the scene
Croydon Opportunity Area Planning Framework
Regional and Sub-Regional context
Prepared jointly by the Council and the Greater London Authority, the OAPF provides the planning policy framework to guide development and investment in Croydon’s metropolitan centre.
The OAPF works in tandem with the six masterplans that cover different areas of the centre.
Notwithstanding some of the challenges noted above Croydon will remain a key centre of business, employment, retail and transport hub for London and the wider south east sub-region. For example our signiﬁcant cluster of ‘insurance businesses’ is a regional strength that we should aim to build upon. We will therefore seek to attract businesses where we already have signiﬁcant clusters.
Capital Strategy 2010-2030
Croydon’s involvement in the ‘Coast to Capital’ Local Enterprise
Partnership also offers opportunities for the borough to attract inward investment given its strategic location as the southern gateway into Europe’s largest single customer market – London.
It sets out how Croydon will ﬁnance, allocate and manage investment in assets efﬁciently to achieve the vision set out in We
Are Croydon, the Vision for Croydon established in 2011.
The ofﬁcial opening of Croydon University Centre in September
2012 through its strategic partnership with Sussex University not only provides degree level courses in Croydon; it also provides an additional inward investment tool as high growth ﬁrms view proximity to a HE institution as a key locational factor. The potential for business and HE collaborations in the forthcoming
Croydon Innovation Centre will be another key driver of economic growth that the borough and its partners will utilise this centre as a marketing tool to promote in its inward investment prospectus.