Lee Green Assembly

I went along to a well-attended meeting of the Lee Green local assembly last night and whilst a few hot issues were thrown my way, the whole evening reminded me why I chose to make this part of London my home.

With what must have been near to 100 people in the room, there were some really interesting discussions; what’s happening with Leegate, how can we improve Manor Park, what can be done to sort out local parking problems. It was a good mix of people and a good mix of issues.

Local resident Jim Mallory gave an update on his work on Leegate and I helped out with some questions about how the regeneration of this area can best be brought forward.

Everyone’s fed up with how the shopping centre looks and Jim has been leading some work on how the centre can be improved in the short term.

Some people asked whether Lewisham council could buy the shopping centre from St Modwen (the current owners) in order to bring about redevelopment. Whilst the council is doing something similar to this in Catford, where St Modwen also own the shopping centre, the case doesn’t really stack up for Leegate.

Basically, in Catford, the council plans to borrow money to buy the shopping centre and the income from the shop rents will cover the loan repayments (and some). The council plans to use the surplus to put together a regeneration scheme.

In Leegate, the high level of vacancies makes a similar purchase unworkable – there’s also the small issue that St Modwen aren’t currently selling Leegate!

I’m going to keep up the pressure on St Modwen to come up with a viable long term regeneration solution and will make sure that the aspirations of the local community are central to any plans.

I will also keep a close eye on the plans to set up some sort of youth facility at Leegate. I’ve been personally involved in approaching St Modwen about getting a shop rent free and whilst they’ve agreed in principle (thank you St Modwen!), the details still need to be finalised.

I also answered some questions on parking – now there’s an issue. There’s clearly huge frustration locally about the hours that the council’s Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) operate and the effects of new CPZs on the area.

Whilst the council is consulting everyone in Lee Green that isn’t in a CPZ at the moment about what they would like to happen in terms of parking, there is clearly still going to be a big campaign by residents to get a review of the hours of operation.

A two hour restriction (which would prevent commuter parking) was the subject of much discussion. The council have agreed to a review of hours of operation in principle but the money still has to be found to carry it out – the budget certainly isn’t there this year.

I think the council needs to be very careful to make sure that the causes of intrusive parking are understood in the area – I’m convinced it’s not just people who want to park for the station so any review would need to take this into account.

Overall, it was a good night – fair play to Steve Bullock for setting the assemblies up!

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