Response to new Leegate plans from the Assembly working group

Leegate redevelopment: Revised plans welcomed, with provisos

Revised plans for the regeneration of Leegate shopping centre have been welcomed by local groups.

The plans, which call for a 40% increase in housing and a more open precinct have been triggered by the withdrawal of Asda whose superstore was central to site owners St Modwen’s original scheme.

Lee Green Assembly working group, representing groups in the area, welcomed the new plans in their response, saying “they will contribute to meeting housing need, free up extra public and more usable space … that could increase usage of the site.

“In addition,” they said, “the loss of the overweening large retailer should result in less traffic and pollution than would have been the case in the earlier plans.” They also welcomed the better use of open space and the increased “permeability” enabling shoppers and residents to access the site more easily.  

However, they’re concerned that the proposals will create a new set of problems, although they don’t see these as insurmountable. They want a meeting with St Modwen and Lewisham planners to ensure their concerns can be aired before St Modwen submit a formal planning application.

Among the issues they raise are the need for a significant proportion of the 390 homes to be genuinely affordable, given the crying need for social housing, which might not happen unless St Modwen are able to make the scheme financially viable.

Other concerns include ensuring there is a good mix of retail and leisure, still unclear in the plans, the reduced space allocated to the community centre than in the initial plans, and the impact on traffic and parking, which – although likely to reduce with the absence of the superstore – must still be planned properly.

The community centre is one piece of social infrastructure needed to cater for the increased population. Others, such as health services, school provision and transport links all need to be part of the plans.

“The devil will be in the detail,” said Cllr Jim Mallory, who convenes the Assembly working group. “The plans represent a big improvement, but we need to see the detail before we can be sure that we have what we all want – a scheme that could make a vital contribution to improving life in Lee Green.

“St Modwen have an opportunity to create a model of what a cohesive community might look like. That’s why we’re keen that they meet with us and the planners before submitting a formal application. That way, we might achieve something for the benefit of everyone in the local area.”

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