Croydon’s Taking Off – According To Gatwick!

The fifth Develop Croydon Conference got a rousing ‘lift’ when a snap poll of delegates resulted in 90% declaring themselves “confident” or “very confident” about the area’s future.

The Develop Croydon Conference was a day-long event, held at the Fairfield Halls, as part of Croydon Council’s initiative to boost the area and create a tech hub to rival any in the world. A lynchpin of this strategy has been to examine closer ties with Gatwick Airport resulting in Chief Executive, Stewart Wingate joining Croydon Council leader, Tony Newman, on stage to sign a “memorandum of understanding” between the two bodies.

The conference was attended by over 200 people who heard about the key role Croydon is expected to play should Gatwick win the backing of Sir Howard Davies’ commission examining the need to increase airport capacity in the capital.

With excellent road and rail communications Croydon is well-placed to take advantage of Gatwick’s expansion, boosting jobs, skills, apprenticeships and resources for infrastructure.

It has been estimated, for example, that up to 23,000 jobs will be created through infrastructure improvements and there will be a further 16,000 created through the airport site. Another 8,000 to 14,000 jobs could also be created from businesses not directly related to the airport but locating here because of the improvements and development of London’s fastest growing tech hub.

There are four key strands to Gatwick’s partnership with Croydon: education, housing, infrastructure and logistics. Under education Gatwick will work with Croydon’s schools, colleges and employment programmes to ensure jobs are available to all. If the second runaway at Gatwick goes ahead it will introduce a £3.75m apprenticeship fund – including grants of £1,500 to cover the costs of each apprenticeship – and partner with Croydon to ensure residents can access the scheme.

Gatwick will identify multiple routes for Croydon-based businesses to become part of its supply chain and has also pledged £46.5m to fund housing projects and local infrastructure improvements. The airport plans to work closely with the Council to support the delivery of those new homes. In terms of transport, both bodies will jointly promote the need for significant investment in the growth corridor from Brighton to London via Gatwick and Croydon.

Mr Wingate stated that should Gatwick be chosen for the new runway, plans are already in place to make vast improvements to the area’s public transport connectivity over the next few years.

In rail transport alone, it is estimated that by 2030, a train will leave Gatwick for Croydon once every two minutes. New ‘smart’ motorway technology has seen the lanes increase from three to four between Sevenoaks and Godstone and this will be extended to Reigate with traffic possibly travelling ‘free-flow’ over the Dartford Crossing within a decade.

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