Businesses in a 1960s shopping parade in Croydon want customers to know they are still there, despite being covered in scaffolding for more than four years.

Half of St George’s Walk was demolished in 2018 to make way for a new public square and hundreds of flats as part of a planned £500m redevelopment.

However, since then nothing has happened with scaffolding still covering the Nestle Tower, which was supposed to be transformed into three tower blocks.

The building has been empty since the company left the borough in 2012.

Below the iconic tower is the other half of St George’s Walk where businesses are still open, but complain of low footfall and anti-social behaviour.

A business owner, who asked not to be named, said he would like to see Croydon Council take more interest in the site and come and visit businesses in the walk.

He claimed he heard no demolition would take place in the tower, where a planning application was approved, because large amounts of asbestos was discovered which would cost £4million to remove.

This, however has not been confirmed by R&F who did not respond to a request for comment.

He said: “The local authority needs to push them to do something, Croydon Council used to come and clean here but they don’t any more. Now people come and urinate in the arcade, it is unacceptable and it is affecting our small businesses here.”

R&F started work on redeveloping the Nestle Tower into more than 200 flats in 2019 but work paused sometime in 2020.

The 250 ft tower has been covered in scaffolding ever since.

Hauwa Mohammed, who runs Big Wharf, which specialises in African food, said a lack of parking near puts off her customers. She said: “It is very, very quiet here now and it is run down, people use the far end as a toilet.

“People get cross with us saying how can they come and shop when there is nowhere to park without going all the way to the Whitgift Centre.

"I would like to know what the future [for St George’s Walk] is and if there is a way I would like to stay here.”

My PT opened in the walk in 2012 and Pete Joel, one of the gym’s directors, says the low rents have allowed the business to grow.

It now spans across four units into part of the old Blue Orchid club and has a separate cycle studio on the other side of the walk.

The personal trainer said: “When we first moved in, Nestle was still operating so the footfall was amazing. The location is great for our business as we don’t rely on footfall, otherwise we wouldn’t be existing.”

Joel thinks with a bit more care, St George’s Walk could be home to more businesses. He said with new flats opening up nearby the gym is seeing an influx of “trendy”people moving down to Croydon from places like Clapham.

He added: “It just needs  people and needs a bit of life.”

Moshin Akbary has run MailSmart for the past five years and says many don’t realise businesses are still operating in the walk.

His business offers shipping and money transfer so people come in for a purpose rather than dropping in on a whim.

He said: “With the barriers up people can’t see it is open, other businesses here have very poor footfall.

"My customers even find it hard to find sometimes, everyone finds it difficult to come here.

“There is antisocial behaviour and graffiti damage to shop fronts. We don’t mind children coming here to play but we don’t like people who come here to smoke and do graffiti and vandalism.

“There is still no development and I think the council should do more to help us here. There was a plan they submitted a few years ago but nothing has happened.”

He added that some 30 minute parking outside would help the businesses.

Mayor of Croydon, Jason Perry, said: “I have had R&F in here and I’ve been there, they are saying that they plan on redeveloping that site. It is important we get it moving, it is a key own centre site.”

The mayor said the only option for the council to take control of the site would be to issue a compulsory purchase order.

He added: “At the moment I am working with the existing owners to get them to redevelop their sites. It is a huge mixed use site that would bring jobs and housing to the town centre.”

R&F was contacted for comment.