LOCAL communities could have power handed to them to take control of parks, leisure centres, libraries  and town centres.

Croydon council’s chief executive Jo Negrini and the Labour administration have discussed devolution of decision making to local areas.

Giving evidence to the Greater London Authority, as part of its investigation in to regeneration and town centres, Ms Negrini said: “The key principle that we are looking at within Croydon is how we get local communities to take control over their own neighbourhoods, whether that is their local park, whether that is the local town centre, or local shops.”

The council is using £309million borrowed from central government to fund the Croydon Growth Fund which aims to spend £520million on 39 key projects, on schools, transport and business support resulting in thousands of new jobs and homes.

Ms Negrini said High Streets were ‘completely’ changing. There are ‘no banks’ anymore and that trend won’t reverse. Instead, they are being turned in to places where people go to ‘eat and drink’.

She told the GLA: “We need to be pragmatic about what is happening with those town centres and make sure that we can intervene as much as we can to make sure we still try to strike some balance.

“For instance, we used £3 million of GLA money on Thornton Heath. We had an opportunity to spend a bit of that money on a number of town centres. We decided to just pile it into Thornton Heath. It was a really good move that we did that because, on the back of that, we were able to do a lot of work with local communities about how they wanted their town streets to look.”

The council is keen to focus on district centres fearing the impact Westfield will have. Steve Dennington, head of the council’s spatial planning, has been tasked with developing a masterplan for Thornton Heath incorporating the neglected and dated Ambassador House, Tesco and Iceland buidings.