IN A major blow to Bexley Council, the £160m project to transform part of Bexleyheath Broadway with new shops, flats, and new council offices and library, housed in a landmark rotunda building, has collapsed.
The new owner of the Broadway Shopping Centre, LaSalle Investment Management has announced it is not willing to go ahead with the redevelopment it inherited from former owners The Mall.
Instead it is discussing a much scaled-down proposal for a small extension to its existing shopping centre, while the council is hoping to sell most of its civic offices site to a supermarket chain.
The revamped proposals mean Bexley may have to hold onto up to a third of its current Broadway home to build new council offices.
Alternatively, it may retain a service point in Bexleyheath and move council staff into one of its existing buildings elsewhere in the borough.
The Central library will now stay on its current site in Townley Road and Bexley Magistrates Court will remain next to the shopping centre.
The extent of any LaSalle development has still to to be decided.
Bexley said it was up to the company to “advance any scheme when it feels the time is right”.
The council stressed it had not paid out any money to The Mall nor to LaSalle and the design work on the previous scheme was paid for by The Mall.
It will now spend up to £50,000 trying to market the civic offices site.
One of the previous bidders was Tesco, which also had alternative plans to build a new superstore on the former Woolwich building society site a few hundred yards away.
Cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Linda Bailey said: “Some may be disappointed the Bexley First scheme put forward by The Mall in 2009 is not going ahead, but the new owners of the Broadway Shopping centre simply considered the scheme too big in today’s current climate.”
Her colleague Councillor Colin Campbell, cabinet member for finance and corporate affairs, said it was still the council’s aim to sell off its buildings across the borough to reduce future running and maintenance costs.
The sale would also fund new civic offices and provide money to spend on council services.
He said: “The civic offices site in Bexleyheath is the most valuable the council owns, so the successful sale, possible to a food retailer, will give us the best chance of doing this.”
The Bexley First scheme has already suffered from the economic downturn with a drop of around £7m in its estimated property values last year.
Bexley says it will continue to press ahead despite the current gloomy outlook saying it needs to save money.
Details of the latest plans are on display in the Central library and on the Bexley first pages on the council’s website at bexley.gov.uk
And in a separate scheme, a developer is about to apply for planning permission to redevelop a piece of land behind the library, not in council ownership, to build a hotel, new homes and some shops.