This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 23/02/2018.
We’ve got coffee shops, work spaces, and galleries galore, here’s what Croydon needs next
Six years ago, Croydon was in a state of economic and cultural stasis. In 2018, that has all changed.
Croydon now stands as London’s coolest borough. It is the ‘Street art capital of London’, and the UK’s fastest growing tech cluster. Croydon is now a place where anyone can come and make their fortune. It’s where you can go from running a jerk chicken stall to building a successful fintech company. Our streets are lined with hip coffee shops, tech work spaces, and art galleries. However, as the editor of the Croydon Citizen recently cogitated, there is still work to be done in Croydon.
Here are some of the more interesting establishments that we should be seeking to bring to the area:
Students are a huge boost to a city’s economy. Loans are there to be spent, and millions of pounds are poured into cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, and shops in university cities every year. Councils benefit from the large number of students who use public transport, as do small independent stores which profit from being more accessible to those on foot than the big supermarkets. University cities have a vitality and youthful atmosphere not seen in other areas. Imagine the effect of bringing up to one thousand cerebral, focused, entrepreneurial university students to an area like Croydon.
Let’s get the fundamentals out of the way for this one to fly. There is a God, He is Yahweh, God of the Bible, and He acts within space-time through his people (the church) and the occasional suspension of natural law (miracles). Simple. So, if you really want to shake up a locale for the better, forget pinning your hopes on a local election. Get a megachurch. Not convinced? Read my full argument on how a religious revival could work wonders for the borough here.
A gig venue
High on the wishlist of many Croydonians who remember the old days when we had The Cartoon Club is a venerable gig venue of note.
Boxpark is scratching that itch for some. However, in the absence of a Fairfield Halls, Hoodoos, Black Sheep Bar, etc. Croydon arguably lacks a locus for the borough’s musical talent to play live to a sizeable crowd. While we’re at it: let’s also get more recording studios and rehearsal spaces.
A jazz or classical music conservatory
A conservatory is an institution for education in musical performance and composition. Historic cities like Vienna and Salzburg offer a variety of acclaimed music conservatories, including the renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the spectacular Vienna State Opera House. These conservatories continue to make them exceptional sites of innovation and creativity. Croydon would do well to get in on the act.
A definitional company
During the industrial revolution, company towns, communities built by businesses, sprouted up across the country. We don’t have company towns anymore, but some companies are so definitional they become all a town in renowned for. In Seattle, there it is Starbucks, in Dagenham there was Ford. Nestlé used to have that honour here in Croydon until it left and Westfield continues to delayits right to bear this mantle. Perhaps one of the tech scale-ups emerging from the Croydon Tech City cluster will give Croydon a corporate identity that resonates around the world.