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The future of Leegate

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26 November 2014
Progress for Leegate? In the last few weeks, I have had a number of discussions with local people about the proposed redevelopment of Leegate. 

As someone who has lived in Lee Green for the last 12 years and as the MP for Lewisham East for the last 4 years, I have had a long-standing interest in bringing about real improvements to this part of Lewisham. The centre is currently run-down and not particularly well used. It has deteriorated since I have lived in the area and I know there is huge desire on the part of the community to see real change. 

The owner of the Leegate Shopping Centre, St Modwen has, over a number of years, been working on redevelopment plans. I have met with St Modwen repeatedly (dating back to 2008) and have consistently pushed for a high quality scheme, which includes a mix of retail, commercial and residential space. As the former Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Lewisham Council, I initiated meetings with St Modwen, the Lee Manor Society and local representatives to see how a regeneration scheme might work – this dialogue has continued in the working group set up by the Lee Green Assembly and ably chaired by Cllr Jim Mallory. 

It has always been my view that in an ideal world, the redevelopment of Leegate would not include another large supermarket. However, I understand that in order to make redevelopment commercially viable, it is often necessary to have a big, anchor tenant such as a supermarket. If this is to happen in Lee Green, we need real guarantees that this is not going to lead to even more gridlock on our roads. 

I also want to see high quality public space included in the development, well designed pedestrian routes and an appropriate space for community use. The residents who live in the flats above the shopping centre also need to be offered reassurances about their future, as do the traders who wish to be based long term in Lee Green. 

Whilst I know that St Modwen have worked hard with the local community and Lewisham planners to improve their plans, I still think more work needs to be done. This is a once in a lifetime generation to transform Lee Green and I want us to get it right. I have therefore written to St Modwen this week to ask them to delay submission of their planning application so that we can find a way of resolving these outstanding matters. 

It will be for St Modwen to decide how they wish to proceed and ultimately for Lewisham Council’s Planning Committee to decide whether permission is granted for any scheme. In the meantime however, here is a copy of my letter to St Modwen.

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