Croydon is South London’s new and emerging economic powerhouse. The area's bright prospects make it one to watch for investors.

Croydon has come a long way since its association with the concrete office blocks of 1960s suburban South London. Today, many have been converted into attractive residential towers offering affordable luxury in the capital’s largest urban centre outside central London.

Croydon is one of London’s best connected towns. Thameslink, Southern, London Overground and the Gatwick Express offer journey times of just 14 minutes to Gatwick Airport, 19 minutes to London Victoria, 41 minutes to Liverpool Street and 36 minutes to Canary Wharf.

Money is also being spent on Croydon, with GBP5 billion worth of combined private investment and public spending committed over the coming years. “Croydon is poised to become the economic powerhouse of South London,” commented former Mayor of London Boris Johnson. With a growth rate recorded by the Office of National Statistics that is 3.7% above the London average and more than double the average for the UK, this is already becoming a reality.

For now, the area remains relatively affordable, offering excellent investment opportunities. Though prices are rising rapidly, Croydon is still the fifth cheapest borough in London, with a 1-bed flat costing between GBP500-600 per square foot compared to central London’s average of GBP900 per square foot. In August it was the third best performing location with regards to average price growth year on year. Between Q1 2016 and Q3 2016, Croydon gave investors total returns of 13.8% - the best in London.

Investment and regeneration

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Croydon has already undergone a significant revamp, with the government recently spending GBP23 million to rejuvenate the town centre and its high streets.

A major catalyst for further growth is the incoming Westfield shopping centre – a joint venture between Westfield and Hammerson and the Croydon Partnership, which will see the current Whitgift and Centrale shopping centre transformed to provide 1.5 million square feet of retail and leisure space, 1,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs. At a cost of GBP1.4 billion, it is due to be completed by 2021.

Westfield and Hammerson have a proven track record for picking investment hotspots and in the past their retail developments have had a major impact on the surrounding areas. Westfield White City opened in October 2008 and according to Rightmove, nearby house prices rose at a higher rate (12.79%) that year than both London’s average (3.10%) and the average of England and Wales (4.74%). Knight Frank called this the “Westfield effect”, and recorded price growth of 43% in Hammersmith’s new-build residential properties between 2011 and 2015

In addition to Westfield, Shoreditch’s trendy Boxpark recently opened an outpost in Croydon that will host 200 events a year alongside several food and beverage outlets. This will transform the area into an all-day late-night destination that appeals to young residents and office workers.

Currently under development is the GBP500 million mixed-use development Ruskin Square and a GBP750 million education and cultural quarter. Proposals for one of Europe’s tallest towers and London’s highest restaurant/bar are being considered within the office, retail, leisure and residential towers at One Lansdowne Road. Transportation is not going unnoticed either with a GBP5.4 million project to replace East Croydon bus station now underway and due to be completed in March 2017.

Demographic trends

Regeneration investment is transforming Croydon’s economy and driving employment as well as population growth. Croydon already has the largest population of any London borough with over 363,400 residents in the 2011 census. This is expected to grow by 29.9% to 404,000 by 2021, a rate significantly above the national growth rate of 7.7%.

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By 2031 further growth is expected to take the population to 426,000. If Westfield’s shopping and leisure destination has anything to do with it, the population of young adults in particular is likely to grow. Following the opening of Westfield Stratford City, Stratford saw the number of people under the age of 40 grow to 73.7% of the population in 2011, up from 70% in 2004.

Croydon currently employs more than 110,000 people across 12,500 workspaces. It also represents the fifth largest cluster of financial services companies in London as well as the capital’s fastest growing tech hub within London, led by the emergence of Croydon Tech City. Touting itself as “the Silicon Valley of South London”, there was a 38% rise in tech, digital and creative businesses between 2011 and 2013.

Alongside, other industries are moving south to take advantage of Croydon’s affordability and accessibility to both central London and to Gatwick airport. A number of major employers have relocated including HM Revenue & Customs, The Body Shop, EDF Energy (set to move its global corporate headquarters to Croydon), Superdrug, AECOM and Network Rail, with many new office blocks already being let before completion.

Croydon’s property is particularly attractive to first-time buyers, young professionals and families who have been priced out of areas closer to the centre of London. Thanks to its excellent transport links, Croydon is an attractive alternative. Its high quality housing is also priced up to 60% below the central London average price.

Price growth and projections

For the moment, house prices remain at accessible levels, with Croydon currently the fifth cheapest borough in London. That said, in the last five years Croydon apartment prices have risen by 40%. The average apartment price in August 2016 was GBP273,876, which marked an 18.3% increase in the year to August 2016 (Land Registry).

With regeneration and investment continuing, and predictions for a rapidly rising population, the trend of increasing property prices in Croydon only looks set to continue. Croydon’s Gross Value Added (GVA) grew 9.3% over the past year, the fastest growing of 173 areas measured in the UK.

With its growing reputation as an economic powerhouse, attractive employment opportunities and a well-connected transportation system, this once rather colourless suburban town has a bright future, particularly for property investors.

Our modern new development Fifteen Lansdowne is in the heart of South London’s Croydon just moments from the Westfield shopping centre. Find out more about our development here.