Some of Croydon's best-known landmarks could disappear as part of ambitious plans unveiled by a leading British architect to transform the town centre from an urban concrete jungle to a cosmopolitan oasis.

Significantly reducing the size of Wellesley Road and raising the River Wandle out of its culverts are among the controversial ideas put forward by Will Alsop in his ambitious vision.

Concepts revealed in a presentation at the Braithwaite Hall last night include tackling four major "barriers" which disrupt the town's accessibility, as well as reducing car parking, creating "green" linkways between the town's parks and introducing more water features - including creating a new lake in Old Town.

Wellesley Road, Roman Way, the Flyover slip roads and the railway tracks near Park Hill have been described as barriers which separate sections of the town and make it inaccessible.

Councillor Chris Wright, cabinet member for planning, said: "Well, Will's proposals were bound to be a bit controversial - that's what he's known for - so he's done his job. These plans are really exciting and have been stimulating a lot of debate.

"Overall we are very pleased with what Will has come up with and think it's very exciting. Wellesley Road has long been a concern for us in that it separates East Croydon from the main town centre retail district.

"We love the idea for greenery to link the parks to the town. Some of his other ideas have sparked a lot of debate, which can only be a good thing."

According to Will Alsop's assessment of the town, the Roman Way's four-lane highway cuts Croydon's Old Town in half, making Wandle Park and the rest of Old Town virtually inaccessible.

Alsop's proposals suggest diverting traffic through an underpass on Roman Way as it approaches Old Town and making St John Baptist Church, which currently faces a pedestrian underpass and four lanes of traffic, into a focal point by creating a lake and gardens in front of the structure.

Another concept is narrowing Wellesley Road, diverting the traffic elsewhere, as well as taking away the Croydon flyover slip roads all together.

Parking spaces would be reduced from 8,500 to 4,500 and park and ride schemes would be "pepper-potted" around the edges of the town. All remaining parking facilities would be pushed underground, with the exception of delivery and disabled parking.

A band of greenery would connect the three parks - Wandle, Duppas Hill and Park Hill - with the centre of town while the River Wandle would be exhumed from its 1960s burial to reintroduce water back into Croydon.

Developing two student campuses - one near West Croydon station and another at Fairfield - would also help Croydon become a university town.

Councillor Wright added: "Some of the plans have provoked some controversy, particularly the ideas for Wellesley Road and Roman Way. It's a nice idea to narrow the road but we have to ensure this doesn't push the traffic to other parts of the borough.

"Obviously this isn't going to happen overnight."

  • To see more images of Will Alsop's vision for Croydon click here