Plans for a major revamp of Centrale shopping centre have been submitted to the council.

In a show of commitment to the town centre, Hammerson will be investing £50m in new frontages, two new units and a leisure quarter.

Billed the first phase in the company’s “long-term vision for retail in Croydon”, the move is the clearest indication yet of Hammerson’s desire to be the chosen developer for the nearby Whitgift Centre.

Last week it was revealed Hammerson were among seven companies vying to be the preferred partner in redeveloping the North End mall.

While companies such as Lend Lease and Delancey are believed to be on the shortlist, it increasingly seems likely it will be a head to head between Hammerson and Westfield.

The Australian giants, whose Stratford City centre is the biggest urban shopping mall in Europe, were seen as the frontrunners having entered “exclusive” negotiations with the Whitgift Foundation, the site’s freeholder.

But other leaseholders Royal London Asset Management and Irish Bank Resolution Corp, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, had not been consulted.

The two leaseholders will offer the winning developer a minimum 25 percent share of their joint 200 million pound stake and responsibility for managing the centre. They expect to pick a developer by end-February.

The proposals for Centrale, designed by Leslie Jones Architecture, include new restaurants while Hammerson is also in discussions with operators to bring a multi-screen cinema to Centrale.

Lawrence Hutchings, Hammerson Managing Director UK Retail commented: "There has been significant underinvestment in Croydon’s retail core for some time with major brands missing from the town’s retail mix.

“Croydon has one of the highest catchment spends in the UK and our proposals will deliver well designed space creating a new prime pitch for the town.

"There is a massive opportunity to put Croydon back on the map with both retailers and consumers and we want Centrale to lead this transformation.”     Subject to the planning process, work could commence in early 2013 with the new leisure and restaurant quarter open in autumn 2014.