It's famous for the scraped-back ponytail and the world's naughtiest supermodel, but Croydon has more to give, says Katie Rosseinsky.
1. A massive mall's coming
It's been the butt of jokes for years, but Croydon could have the last laugh thanks to extensive regeneration plans. Mall king Westfield and retail developer Hammerson have coughed up around £1 billion to transform the old Whitgift Centre into a Stratfordesque shopping destination. Set to open in 2019/2020, it promises 1.5 million square feet of retail space, a multiplex, a bowling alley and 600 'affordable residential units.' It's a clear vote of confidence for the area.
2. Where tech leads, we follow
Give it a few years and CR could be the coolest postcode in Greater London. The suburb's been quietly reinventing itself as a tech hotspot, and now rivals Silicon Roundabout as an incubator for digital start-ups. The summer has also seen the arrival of The Lost Format Society, a pop-up cinema club hosting screenings on the roof of a multi-storey car park. And Shoreditch's premier pop-up mall, Boxpark, will open a second outpost in Croydon next year, providing a new home for some of the capital's best street food.
3. There's plenty of culture
Croydon's seen an unexpected cultural renaissance in the past few years: no longer a byword for dull, grey suburbia, you'll find plenty to keep your grey matter occupied. While the ëPeep Show' location tour has sadly been suspended until further notice, the David Lean Cinema regularly screens arty films, while cool workspace Matthews Yard hosts life drawing, poetry readings and pop-up theatre. The Rise gallery was also recently chosen to host a massive Banksy retrospective (which runs until the end of August, graff fans).
4. It's well connected
It may languish in the wilds of Zone 5, but Croydon's transport links are enviable. A City Thameslink service from East Croydon shoots commuters into London Bridge in just 15 minutes, while the service to Victoria takes less than 20. Croydon is also part of London's premier tram network, connecting it to Wimbledon, Beckenham and... Ikea. If you need a real change of scene, Gatwick's just down the road.
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