A large section of Croydon's town centre will be turned into a building site for the next four years after changes were made to the planning application for the Park Place shopping centre.

Originally the £500million shopping centre was to be built in two phases, easing the disruption to residents, transport and businesses nearby and allowing the Allders department store to move into new premises with minimum disruption.

But now the mammoth retail complex will be built in one go and fears are growing over the future of the North End department store which began trading in Croydon in 1862.

The council confirmed this week that Park Place would be constructed in a single phase development.

Mark Boyes, senior development manager for Lend Lease, the company now handling Park Place, said: "It was going to be a two phase scheme but that was when Allders was part of Scarlet Retail and was going to be our anchor store.

"However, Allders is now not a major multiple let, it is a short-term let and owner Harold Tillman was aware of this when he bought the store. Allders was always just a short-term cash cow for him."

Mr Boyes told the Croydon Guardian Allders had been offered 60,000 sq ft of fashion and home retail space in Park Place, but the store said it was unaware of the proposal.

Despite several attempts to get John Lewis to become Park Place's primary store, the retail giant is yet to make any public commitment to Croydon.

Croydon Council said the change to the building programme came into place after Allders was bought by Harold Tillman in 2005.

A spokesman said: "The council is confident that Lend Lease appreciates the unique relationship that exists between Allders and local shoppers. We will use our influence to help find an acceptable solution.

"Overall it is important not to lose sight of the fact that Park Place, like the Gateway site, represents a huge investment in Croydon's future.

"In relatively recent times the town has adapted to the loss of Kennards and Grants, the removal of two way traffic from North End and the return of trams.

"As a dynamic town, Croydon will continually evolve, bringing exciting new opportunities for improvement and wealth creation that will enhance the quality of life of the many who choose to live and work in Croydon."

The council said the matter is expected to be discussed on July 9 at a progress meeting with Lend Lease, Minerva, Allders and Howard Holdings.

  • What do you think of the decision to build Park Place in one go rather than a phased development? Post your comments below.