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Greenwich Council to buy Poundland store in Eltham High Street
IN a move to regenerate a town centre, Greenwich Council's deputy leader has agreed plans to buy a large Poundland store for an undisclosed sum.
Councillor Peter Brooks has agreed the local authority should go ahead and buy 168 to 176 Eltham High Street, formerly the Co-op building.
The news comes after the council released a masterplan for the area earlier this year, revealing a list of aims including increasing the area's restaurants, improving public spaces, better links to Eltham Palace and more homes in the town centre.
In a report, council officers said: "There is a limited window of opportunity to purchase this building which is not on the open market but is considered to be a key site on the high street with significant development potential.
"The development opportunity has the potential to significantly increase the footfall on the high street and reinvigorate the local economy."
The three-storey 1930s building, currently vacant on two floors, is believed by the council to have enough space for either retail, housing or leisure facilities - something which may not happen if it is put on the open market.
Officers said: "The primary objective of this purchase is for the council to kick-start the development of a key part of the high street which in turn will increase the footfall on the high street, enhance and diversify the town centre offer and reinvigorate the local economy."
Secretary of the Eltham Society Laurie Baker gave cautious backing to the move, saying the high street had too many pawnbrokers and charity shops.
He said: "We don't have a very good idea yet of what they're up to.
"I think the feeling is that we need a few more shops selling white goods - more like the old Co-op and Allders."
But Bryn McNeill of the Association for Commerce in Eltham said the Eltham Town Centre Partnership, a group of businesses, should have a role in shaping the town's future.
He said: "There's concern that the partnership are playing no part in the discussion as to this building's procurement and its use."
A council spokesman said they were unable to comment until the purchase had been completed.
The decision has been called-in by Councillor Spencer Drury for further discussion at an Overview and Scrutiny meeting next Monday.