Final planning consent has been granted for the £1bn Westfield/ Hammerson retail development after the developers agreed a package of community benefits with Croydon Council.

Yesterday’s signing of a section 106 deal is the last stage of the planning process and ensures residents will be the first to benefit from thousands of new jobs.

Developers Westfield and Hammerson will be required to deliver a wide range of training and employment schemes to get people into work.

These will range from providing apprenticeships and internships, to supporting local contractors and backing new business start-ups by providing test trading spaces in the shopping centre.

Under the terms of the agreement the developers are investing £29m into Croydon’s transport networks.

As well as the immediate works associated with the development in Croydon High Street, this will include £2.5m for highways improvements, £10m for additional bus services and £15m for trams.

Another £1.6m has been allocated for sustainable transport.

Streets and public spaces in North End will benefit from a revamp with £2.1m spent on new lighting and other environmental improvements.

Public art is also going to get a cash boost with £150,000 available for art within the scheme, or a programme of performance art.

Cabinet member for planning and transport Councillor Jason Perry said: “This is fantastic news for Croydon.

“We are issuing final planning consent for this major regeneration project as the economy is on the up - the timing just couldn’t be better.

“The Westfield/ Hammerson development has put Croydon’s town centre on the map as a retail and leisure destination and this agreement confirms it as a real catalyst for regeneration throughout our borough.

“Croydon Council has worked hard for many years to ensure development in the town centre benefits residents and businesses from our community, making a long term difference to the lives of everyone who lives and works here.

“I’m pleased to say this S106 agreement will ensure that Croydon residents are the main beneficiaries of the Westfield/ Hammerson development as it delivers new jobs, homes and opportunities.”

He added: “It’s particularly exciting as this is just the beginning for Croydon.

“This important site in the heart of the town centre is already acting as a magnet for other investment – which will in turn bring more benefits for the local community.”

Westfield’s development director John Burton said: “Delivering a new development which brings maximum benefits to the local community is an intrinsic part of our proposal to transform the Croydon retail town centre.

“The widespread support we have received for the scheme is founded on the recognition of the positive changes it will bring to the people of Croydon over the long term, and we’re proud to have signed this agreement with the council which formalises this commitment.”

Hammerson’s chief investment officer Peter Cole said: “This 106 agreement represents another significant milestone for the scheme, and brings our proposals closer to delivery.

“We are in active discussions with retailers and are progressing scheme designs.

“Today’s announcement is a major step towards restoring Croydon to its role as the leading south London retail and leisure destination, and our delivery of this £1bn scheme which will create 5,000 new jobs.”