A third Westfield Shopping Centre in the London area got a green light yesterday from the Strategic Planning Committee of The London Borough of Croydon, which resolved to grant planning permission to the Croydon Partnership's outline planning application for the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre.

The Croydon Partnership is Westfield and Hammerson's joint venture. Their £1 billion scheme will transform Croydon's town centre into a 1.5 million sq ft state-of-the-art retail, leisure and restaurant destination, together with new public realm, new car parking and up to 600 new residential units including affordable housing.

John Burton, Westfield’s director of development, said: “In terms of scale, what we’re delivering here is in total larger than what we currently have at either Stratford or west London. The intention is to be a pace setter, here and more widely in Europe. This will be the absolute top of the tree."

“The Mayor, following the riots, has made no secret of the fact that this is one of his priorities in terms of seeing it return to its place in the overall hierarchy of London. Croydon will rise to a place in London that it has previously held, at the very top.”

The plan calls for the adjacent Centrale shopping centre to be rolled into the development as well, bringing the overall size up to just short of 2 million sq ft, which will make this Westfield slightly bigger than Shepherd's Bush at 1.7 million sq ft and Stratford at 1.9 million sq ft..

Building work will begin in 2015 subject to Boris Johnson’s approval today. Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, must also approve the plan due to its size. There is no suggestion it will be blocked by either and the scheme should be completed in 2018.

Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell said the proposed investment was a “once in a generation” opportunity to transform Croydon’s fortunes while making it “one of the top retail destinations in the country”. It will also go some way to solving unemployment, a housing shortage and “turning around” the town’s decline.

The scheme will also provide over £30 million towards local transport improvements and employment and training benefits.

The key elements of the contributions are:

· £15 million for the tram network
· £10 million for the bus network
· £2.5 million for local highways
· £1.625 million for sustainable transport initiatives
· £1.3 million for employment and training initiatives

The London Borough of Croydon has already initiated the preliminary stages of a potential CPO process having sent out letters to all of the parties that would be affected and held preliminary discussions. This is in advance of the Council's consideration to use CPO powers to support the site assembly process in the New Year.