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Croydon reaches for the sky with £500m towers vision

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Croydon councillors have launched an ambitious £500 million scheme to redevelop the town's Fairfield Halls site. It includes plans for a 64-storey skyscraper flanked by two 40-storey towers.

Meanwhile, another 40-storey tower is planned for the nearby Suffolk House site.

Consultant Gerald Eve has completed a feasibility study and councillors are now seeking proposals from developers and architects to turn the plan into reality. The projects will mark the birth of the town as a tower cluster, as envisioned by London mayor Ken Livingstone.

The plans call for the demolition of the Fairfield Halls, which will be replaced with a new Fairfield arts complex. The main tower will then be built along with the two smaller towers. The larger tower will contain office space, while the smaller ones will be mixed use and include affordable housing.

Croydon council's cabinet member for planning and regeneration Adrian Dennis told the AJ he was seeking an 'iconographic' building for the town, not 'just another grey shoe box'.

'We don't have problems with strategic views or people living in the shadows of this building - this is an ideal location for such a structure, ' he said.

He added that he hoped for a building comparable in height and aesthetics to Renzo Piano's London Bridge Tower, although 'I'm not sure if Mr Piano will be rushing to Croydon'.

However, the plan has already come in for criticism. Opposition councillor and director of the Fairfield Halls Dudley Mead told the AJ that the plan was 'pie in the sky'.

'It looks great on paper, but personally I don't think a scheme like this can go ahead - it's just too huge.We all want to put Croydon on the map, but not like this, ' he said.

Chair of the planning scrutiny committee Tony Arbour said that he believed the council was 'taking advantage' of Ken Livingstone's comments regarding the area as a potential tower cluster.

And he added: 'In the conservative group's submission to the select committee on tall buildings we highlighted Croydon as a potential area for tower developments - but nothing in the 40- to 60-storey range. I would imagine this could stir up a lot of resentment in the local community.'

A spokesperson for Ken Livingstone said:

'Croydon was highlighted as an area that could support a tall building. The mayor has clearly not seen these proposals but subject to a high quality ofdesign he would look favourably on such a development.'

An additional 40-storey tower is also planned for the nearby Suffolk House site. Councillor Dennis said that originally this site was earmarked for a 50-storey tower but it has been scaled back.

Pringle Richards Sharratt is currently developing designs for the scheme.

Director of Pringle Richards Sharratt Ian Sharatt said: 'It will be mixed use at ground level, but mostly office space. We are putting together a team to put forward a planning application by the end of the year.'

A spokesperson for English Heritage told the AJ it would not have 'strong objections' to either project, while CABE declined to comment.

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