London Plan: ‘Councils…manage declining centres proactively….focus a wider range of services and promoting diversification’
Over the last 6 years an average of 25 small and independent traders have operated in the Leegate centre, despite the lack of upkeep of the Centre by St Modwen. These traders have included a butcher, optician, chemists, cafes, hairdresser, internet café, florist, launderette, off licence, and a hardware store – all stores that compliment Sainsburys’ provision well. Recently some of these traders have left because of the threat of losing their leases under the proposed redevelopment and for the same reason new traders are reluctant to invest in moving in, but there is demand in the area for many of these services, and if the centre was kept up well, and public space well designed to bring footfall to the shops, many more people would visit these small stores.
At St Modwen’s June 2014 consultation and November 2014 exhibition, plans offered half as many of these diverse stores to the community, meaning that locals will lose local provision and still need to get in their cars and drive elsewhere for their everyday needs.
In the plans submitted to Lewisham council in February 2015, the number of small retailers increased to two thirds as many as are currently there, but the space to put them in has not. It seems likely that each unit has been made smaller to give the impression of a more balanced proposal since the loss of small retailers is something St Modwen have been questioned about by A Better Lee Green.
We will be comparing before and after square metres of small retailers’ space and will post details to this website when we know them to help clarify what the actual situation is.