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'Moral case' for Croydon devolution pilot

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There is a “moral case” for financial devolution to London boroughs, the leader of Croydon LBC has said.

In an interview with LGC, Tony Newman (Lab) said powers to retain stamp duty income and business rates uplift should be tried out in his borough first, before being rolled out more widely.

He said this was because the borough’s growth prospects meant it needed finance for regeneration.

The council intends to designate the entire borough as a ‘growth zone’ and deliver a £5.25bn regeneration programme by 2031, creating 8,300 new homes and 23,600 jobs.

“If it is left to a secretary of state to give these powers to the whole of local government people will come up with a lot of reasons for not doing it,” Cllr Newman told LGC.

“It’s easier for them to pilot these powers in one place than wait until they can be given to every council in the land.”

Croydon seeks commitments that any stamp duty on new homes would be ringfenced for the area, raising about £100m over 20 years, and that all business rate uplift on new commercial developments would be retained by the council, expected to raise some £30m by 2031.

“There is almost a moral case for this in that London needs new homes to meet its housing shortage and we are one of the boroughs stepping up to provide for a lot of new affordable homes,” Cllr Newman said.

Major projects in Croydon include the £1bn redevelopment of the Whitgift retail centre by developers Hammerson and Westfield.

London mayor Boris Johnson has allocated £23m towards the regeneration of Croydon town centre.

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