A café owner in Croydon’s Whitgift Centre is not sure how long he can hang on as the shopping centre has been “deserted for the past seven years”.

Nuno Afonso, owner of British and Continental Bar said broken promises in relation to Westfield have made businesses leave the centre, which was once busy with shoppers.

Nuno’s cafe is on the first floor of the complex and he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it is one of the only businesses still open on the floor.

He admitted that business has been tough since 2015, when work on Westfield was originally supposed to start.

This was the same year Westfield and Hammerson bought the Whitgift Centre for an undisclosed sum.

The idea was this would make it easier for the companies to move forward with plans for the £1.6 billion supermall.

But these plans were scrapped in 2019 and any planning permission has now expired.

The Croydon Partnership, which combines the two companies, said it would look at providing fewer shops, more restaurants and a hotel as possible options instead.

But business owners in the Whitgift Centre like Mr Afonso aren’t convinced anything will happen.

His café has been in the centre since 1995 and used to be a popular spot for office workers from the Whitgift Centre Tower, but they have since moved on.

The 45-year-old said: “They need to improve the Whitgift and try to bring some retail back. Since Westfield was supposed to come in 2015 people started closing and since then it has been going downhill.

“I don’t know whether I can hang on. I think if there were more shops we would get more people coming in.

“All the offices left because work for Westfield was supposed to begin. We used to get office workers here now we get maybe 30 people a day and we would get maybe 150 people in the past.”

Mr Afonso said if he is forced to close he wouldn’t open another business in Croydon.

A spokesperson for the Croydon Partnership said: “The Croydon Partnership remains committed to Croydon and is currently working on a new approach for the regeneration of the town centre, which will amplify the sense of place.

“Bringing in new occupier uses, experiences and concepts which the whole community can be part of, is integral to this and we’re busily preparing for the arrival of LOST.

"This is a unique concept for London and reinforces the overarching strategy to reposition the area.”