A RUNDOWN shopping centre in an area once branded Britain's worst for retail could be brought back to life in a £40m redevelopment promising hundreds of new jobs.

St Modwen is launching its plans for Lee Green's Leegate Shopping Centre at a two-day public exhibition next week.

The centre, built 50 years ago, is past its best and has been more popularly used for art installations in recent times.

But St Modwen, which owns the centre, is now planning new shops, along with fitness facilities, offices, restaurants and a supermarket, likely to be run by Asda, which is set to create 300 jobs alone.

A new one-level car park for 320 cars will replace the old multi-storey one while an office building will be converted into a hotel.

St Modwen senior development manager Killian Morris said: "The regeneration of the Leegate Shopping Centre will breathe new life back into Lee Green.

"Our aim is to cater for local needs and address the change in shopping patterns that has occurred over the 50 years since it was built."

Charles Batchelor from the Lee Manor Society said he had some concerns about the development's size and increased traffic.

He said: "The current centre is an absolute disaster. It's a black hole that sucks the life out of the area. We do welcome a redevelopment and want it to work.

"But we don't want a huge monster that sucks in traffic from all over south east London."

In 2010, research for the BBC branded Lee Green Britain's worst for shopping with a third of its shops lying vacant.

The exhibition takes place on March 30 from 11am to 8pm and March 31 from 10am to 1pm in unit 5 of the centre.

Further consultation is due this summer, with a planning application pencilled in for autumn.