Monday 14 July 2014

The Future Leegate Centre Lewisham

"The Future of the Leegate Centre"
The Leegate Centre was built at Lee Green to reinvigorate and modernise the shopping area at the end of the 60's/start of the 70's.  Well, its deja vu all over again!
At the time it was welcomed by local people with open arms.  Everything was so different over 40 years ago - many fewer people with cars, fewer bus routes, shopping centres at Lewisham, Catford and Eltham, local corner shops ... the past is another country, they do things differently there.
By 1992 the centre, its flats and offices were looking less appealing.  It was bought by St. Modwen property, specialisers in taking on declining urban shopping centres.  Leegate continued to decline.  Remember Catford?  St. Modwen sold it to the Council in early 2010 for something like £10m.
By then there was active dissatisfaction with the continually declining Leegate, its fabric and its facilities, mostly expressed and acted on through the Local Assembly and local councillors.
Such activity and pressure eventually forced the hand of the owners and plans were discussed.  A local team was established to negotiate with St Modwen and although like drawing teeth the plans were to involve Asda as the key retailer, incorporate a hotel, housing, a few samll shops, a pub, car parking but little public space.
The consultation was arranged for 20th/21st June 2014, local people were leafleted (although some seem to have been left out) but a different set of plans were then on offer for the well-attended public consultation.
The new plans look good, because the current facility is so poor, anything would look good.  The entire centre is to be demolished and very little public space will remain.  The offer includes Asda (remember there is a flourishing Sainsbury across the road)  with roof top car parking for 300 cars, 250 housing units with underground car parking for less than half that number, a pub, a few shops and "landscaping."  The council require the building on the corner by the junction to be taller by 2/3 storeys in order to be "iconic."  No doubt you are aware of all the "iconic" apartment blocks in central Lewisham, those dotted about the borough and others to go up on Convoys Wharf.
In brief this will lead to much increased traffic congestion, considerable over-development for the area and 2 main players in the supermarket world going head to head, when supermarkets are predicted to be in decline.
Many local people are not happy with the latest draft proposlas for the above reasons.  A main criticism is the amount of extra traffic in an already congested area, bringing more dangers to pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers.

Patricia Richardson

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