A major town centre shopping centre is set for a £50m transformation after plans were given the go ahead by Croydon Council.
Developers Hammerson are set to demolish a section of Centrale, currently housing fashion store TK Maxx, and replace it with an 11-screen cinema, as well as installing a eight-restaurant food court and two new retail outlets added to the atrium.
At a strategic planning committee on Thursday May 17, the shopping centre giants, who purchased Centrale for £100m last year, said the scheme was aimed at creating a "family-friendly leisure quarter".
It is also expected to create 350 jobs.
The redevelopment is part of an overall £90m investment for Centrale, while Hammerson are also preparing a planning application to develop the neighbouring Whitgift Centre after being picked as the preferred developer by lease holders Royal London Asset Management and IBRC Assurance Company in April.
Neil Crawford, development manager, said: "The new central will be unrecognisable from the old.
"The new cinema coupled with the food court and improved retailing options will be delivered by the end of 2014 and will be responsible for returning Croydon to one of the top ten retail centre in the UK."
The 11-screen, 1900 seat cinema will be provided by Showcase de Lux, responsible for the cinema complex at Bluewater in Kent.
Mr Crawford said: "The cinema is central to creating an alternative family friends leisure quarter as part of the town’s night-time economy."
Mr Crawford also hit out at the Whitgift Foundation, who support rivals Westfield’s bid to develop the Whitgift Centre, for opposing Hammerson’s Centrale plans.
He said: "You should be wary of listening to other organisations whose objections are linked to their own agendas."
The Whitgift Foundation opposed the plans arguing any agreement of a cinema could jeopardise Westfield’s plans for the Whitgift Centre, which also include a cinema.
Carl Samuel, vice-chairman of the Old Town Association also argued against the plan, which will remove an entrance to Centrale from Frith Street to the rear.
The plan also does not include retail units for the Frith Road frontage while access has been moved to an improved Drummond Street.
In approving the plans Croydon councillors added a condition at least two retail units should be included on Frith Street unless not viable.
Mr Samuel said: "By removing TK Maxx you are removing the main access from North End to the Old Town. With no shops there is no incentive for people to walk through. You may as well call us the Old Dead Town."
Work is expected to start in early 2013 with the new leisure and restaurant quarter open in Autumn 2014.