Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
£80m plans unveiled to transform 'Britain's worst shopping centre' in Lee
Revised £80m plans to transform Britain's worst shopping centre with 400 new jobs, an Asda, homes, cafes and new gym have are going on show this week.
The once-popular Leegate Centre was built in the 1960s but, 50 years on, lies mostly unloved and underused beside the Lee Green crossroads, with around half of its 20 units lying vacant and others struggling. In 2010, BBC research branded it the country's worst shopping district, while a Lee community group has labelled it a "black hole".
But now, after consulting on initial plans back in 2012 and working with council officers on the feedback, site owners St Modwen have unveiled their "radical rethink" for the centre.
Senior development manager Killian Morris explained: "The trend has really moved away from carrying out shopping trips in small district centres.
"What we're left with is something that's simply too big.
"It's got too many shops, too many empty shops and it needs a radical rethink."
The company says a new Asda - which was up against fellow bidders Morrisons - in the new complex will act as an "anchor" for the site, attracting other tenants in a way that has not happened since the old Woolworths closed.
And they hope other tenants will be "convenience" retailers facing out onto the Burnt Ash Road - florists, keycutters, dry cleaners, bike stores and the like.
St Modwen is in discussions with gym chains for a first floor outlet facing on to the crossroads, while a child tuition centre is also expected to move in.
Despite there being a Sainsbury's opposite, Mr Morris said it had a monopoly on the area while research showed many people were still travelling out to Charlton, Lewisham and Bromley for a big shop.
He said: "There's a lot of spending power here, it's just not coming into this shopping centre."
And he said work was still being done on traffic impact assessments for the area - a key concern of residents.
Further changes to the original scheme will see two office blocks knocked down with around 250 housing units built on top of the new centre, along with a street of town houses linking Burnt Ash Road with Leyland Road where a car wash is currently sited.
Mr Morris said: "The biggest thing for me is this actually acts as a catalyst for other regeneration within the district centre."
The new plans are on show on June 20 from 2pm to 8pm and June 21 from 10am to 2pm in Unit 5 of the centre.
A planning application is set to be submitted later this year. Visit leegate-regeneration.co.uk for details.
Comments are closed on this article.