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Progress for Leegate?

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03 April 2012
Progress for Leegate? In the two years that I have been the MP for Lewisham East, the state of the Leegate shopping centre has been a source of much local concern. Boarded-up shops and a poor quality environment have led Leegate to be branded one of the worst town centres in the country. Along with local residents and Labour Councillor Jim Mallory, I have been pressing St Modwen (the owners of Leegate) to come up with a long term regeneration solution for the area.

Given the economic climate and stagnant property market progress has been slow, but after much waiting, it does seem that something is on the table.

As many residents in the area will know, St Modwen are proposing to redevelop Leegate Shopping Centre to include retail and office space, leisure facilities, housing and a hotel. There is also likely to be a new ASDA on the site. While there is obviously a cause for concern about having two supermarkets in Lee Green, many residents I have spoken to welcome that there is at least something happening at Leegate. The 300 jobs that this could bring will of course be welcome in a time of such high unemployment.

The current state of affairs cannot be allowed to go on and if the only way of getting a much needed redevelopment project off the ground is to have a supermarket here, the challenge must be to make the rest of the development as attractive as possible. There must be space for a mix of retailers, including independent and local traders, and the area would welcome a decent pub and good quality restaurants and cafes, as well as the retention of the existing public square.

For me, the community of Lee Green must be central to the plans. The key to this consultation is communication, particularly with current tenants in the flats above the shopping centre who need to know if alternative homes will be provided for them. Some sort of community space in the new development is also important, allowing local residents to have a place to grow the activities that are already taking place in the temporary Lee Green Community Centre.

I know many people have responded to the consultation, and I have relayed to St Modwen the concerns raised by residents who have contacted me. In particular, people have expressed worries about increasing congestion on local roads, especially in existing problem areas such as the Lee Green junction itself. I expect Lewisham Council will require St Modwen to submit a proper traffic impact assessment and this will have to be considered very carefully.

It has been a slow process, but hopefully the consultation will finally bring about a solid plan for the regeneration of Leegate. I will continue to press St Modwen to take the concerns of local residents on board.

For those who are interested in responding to the public consultation, you can have your say here.

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