Poor benighted Leegate

Initial plans to redevelop the Leegate Centre in Lee Green have been released by owners St Modwen. The 1960s-built shopping centre is largely deserted and something drastic needs to happen to it.

St Modwen's solution is to bulldoze it and replace it with a large Asda, with rooftop car parking.

Any retail-led development would be a mistake. With Blackheath up the hill for the chichi stuff, Lewisham just down the road for chains, Lee High Road for independent retail and a large Sainsbury's right next door (plus a Lidl 500 yards away), there is no niche left for it to occupy. Transport links are relatively poor and parking space is at a premium (hence the roof parking plan).

St Modwen claim that a supermarket is needed to create the footfall that will make the rest of the retail offer (25,000 sq ft of new shops and restaurants along Burnt Ash Road) work. They must know this is hogwash. If one large supermarket has done nothing for the site (arguably, it accelerated the decline), how would another help? Lee Green has been a dysfunctional town centre for decades and something much more imaginative would be needed to reverse its decline. This proposal plans to keep the ugliest bits (including Leegate tower, which is a strong candidate for the borough's worst building) and allow the site to be dominated by a supermarket shed, none of which is likely to turn this in to a leisure destination.

This looks like a cynical ploy to get permission to develop another large supermarket in the borough, rather than a considered attempt to regenerate Lee. None of the other projects featured on the developer's website give any kind of reassurance that they know how to handle a site like this.

If the problem is that the Council is insistent on restoring Lee's function as a bustling town centre, then the Council should stop and have a rethink. There's no need to retain Leegate as a shopping precinct, they should allow it to be developed as a residential area, with a high quality public realm and some leisure facilities (like a gym) that would really attract customers who might then be persuaded to try the local pubs or restaurants in the  area.

With new homes next door, maybe the New Tiger's Head could finally reopen.

[Full disclosure: the company I work for, Edelman, does a little CSR reporting work for Sainsbury's, so you can dismiss the above as a Machiavellian ruse to protect a client from competition if you like, but it really isn't - it's just the most depressing proposal we've seen in a long while]

48 comments:

Fattyfattybumbum said...

An ugly building in inappropriate location? Sounds exactly like the kind of thing Lewisham Council would allow.

Anonymous said...

If they are intent on developing it as retail why not invite someone useful like Wilkinsons instead of a direct competitor to Sainsburys?

By the way it's St Modwen not Mowden. I believe they owned the Catford precinct/shopping centre until Lewisham Council bought it last year. I think that - and the Leegate Centre, which is a blight on a really nice area - shows how much care they lavish on their properties!

Anonymous said...

Supermarket?

Affordable honest food?

Cars?

Ticks all the boxes for a mung rant. Well done.

Back in the real world, this will be welcomed with open arms.

Shame said...

Anon - I am all for cars, and affordable food from supermarkets. In fact I believe that the anti-car policies in London should be reversed and more effort put towards making cars that can get energy from renewable sources.

However Nick is totally right here. Lee Green does not need a supermarket to compete with the Sainsbury's opposite or the tesco near the staqtion. Trying to make this into a shopping destination will not work - it didn't at the first attempt. Nick's suggestion to turn this into residential is sound. The borough needs more housing, there is a Sainsbury's opposite and it is a prime location. Only, I would want residential with underground parking(!)

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon1103 - please try to read the article before posting.

1. It's not anti-car, I make no mention of them other than to say that this is not convenient location for them.

2. It's not anti-supermarket, I think supermarkets have an important role to play, but what they don't do is what the developers claim, which is help regenerate sites like this. If they said "look, we've run out of ideas, so please can we put a supermarket here" I'd say let them make their case (although hard to justify a supermarket with one next door and another very close (plus Lewisham Tesco). But they've come up with a dubious argument about regeneration, which I believe is totally bogus, for the reasons outlined.

I am arguing for good honest housing to be the main focus of this development.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what ASDA stands for?

Good food at low prices!

Anonymous said...

thank you for that insightful comment about Asda Mr Walton

Brockley Nick said...

I'm glad all the brave, anonymous shock jocks are so fond of Asda since (full disclosure) I've just remembered my employers also work for Wal-Mart, owner of Asda. Cheers guys!

Anonymous said...

Brockley needs an Asda. I have to drive (yes drive) to the Old Kent Road branch every weekend, which is full of mop headed children.

Anonymous said...

ASDA= Associated Dairies. From oop north.
Why not build a 43 storey tower here instead of Convoys Wharf?

Anonymous said...

Asquith & Dairies actually. But you're quite right - from up north where they tolerate no nonsense fare. London has a lot to learn.

Tressilliana said...

London has a big shortage of school places. Why not use at least some of this space for a new school?

I wonder if any Anon will ever provide a definition of 'honest' food. I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

If they just did it up it would look better or be a bit imaginative like the de Walden estate is in Marylebone. Or perhaps the council should buy it off them.

Tamsin said...

Might have been honest fare and from up north originally (co-op anyone?) but now, as Nick has said, a part of the Wal-mart global empire. Give me Aldi any day.

The site is ideal for housing - and that is genuinely what would re-generate the area - and the small shops and cafes along the Burnt Ash Road frontage.

I would also love it if the New Tigers Head could re-open and be looked after, as well as the little shops with extraordinary roof pitches next to it.

Anonymous said...

Surely changing the use of land to housing would require Lewisham to do something....don't hold your breath.

Rice N' Pea said...

Went to Lee once and was nearly run over. Never been back.

Catford is bad but Lee might as well be demolished and the people mulched and sprayed over crops.

On the other hand Lee is quite poor so would probably welcome a Asda.

Anonymous said...

there is already a sainsbury on the other side of the road.

We have saved tha banks by printing cash, we need to save the developers by allowing them to build whatever they want.

If they can't, than banks are in trouble again and we need to print more money.

So lewisham council is just continuing the Keynesian policy of Labour, build build build it does not matter what.

I though speculation was a Torie prerogative, but they have been copied... Thanks Bollocks for the terrific job you are doing in Lewisham.

MalB said...

The Lee Manor Conservation Area is really nice but Leegate certainly requires something done to it.

I think I might agree with Nick that housing is the thing except that I could see it being developed as some awful tower blocks of multicoloured 1- and 2-bed flats like those springing up in Brockley, Deptford and Lewisham Town Centre or the hideous things that were going to be built in the Kender Triangle. I would no more like Lee to be blighted with those than I would with an ASDA.

It needs a really sensitive bit of planning. Lewisham is developing its new planning policies on the back of the LDF as we speak: it is the right time for the residents of Lee to get involved. At the end of the day, what they want should count at least a bit.

Hatchet Man said...

@brockleynick.

"I'm glad all the brave, anonymous shock jocks are so fond of Asda since (full disclosure) I've just remembered my employers also work for Wal-Mart, owner of Asda. Cheers guys!"

Then lord help yah when they read this back in the old US.

Anonymous said...

If we want to rejenerate the area knock down the Leegate Tower it's hideous and get rid of the awful Weatherspoons!! There are already 3/4 pubs in walking distance and All you get at the moment is drunks hanging around the corner of the bar smoking... what more could put off young families going to the shops here.

Anonymous said...

I'm disturbed by the description of the Scottish as 'anonymous shock jocks', have this picture of men running around lifting their kilts in a shock and awe pincer movement.

Anonymous said...

I shopped at that Sainsbury this morning. Couldn't find a parking space on the entrance car park, even though about 14 disabled places were avialble and some twenty-odd 'mother with child' spaces. Had to go down to the wet, dank, clautrophobic underground car park. Hope Asda does it better.

That Sainsbury needs competition in my opinion.

kolp said...

I don't know the site very well. But how about a picturehouse type cinema for the space?

kolp said...

Thinking about this further, in terms of creating employment, an Asda would be much better than a cinema.

Anonymous said...

The site is huge and really needs a total overhaul. A Cinema/ Gym/ community hall and restaurants is a much better idea that an Asda. Also the fact that they want to attempt to leave some of it and do it up is crazy.. asy they said it's a run down 60s shopping centre (Ghetto). What are they going to do give it a lick of paint and call that rejuvenated?!?

Anonymous said...

How is an Asda going to rejuvenate an area.. it will just take custom from any small shops near by. Also someone made an argument about that Sainsbury must have some competition, they already do a price match on Asda and Tesco so not sure how that is going to drive down prices..

Anonymous said...

I said it 'needs' competition actually, but must is fine. Doing a few price comparisons isn't full competition. Sains is over-trading. More for less: good.

Anonymous said...

All the top supermarkets are basically the same price now, give or take a special on the odd product or a few p here or there. They know it too. The only way to seriously save money is to go to Lidl or Aldi. Or if conspicuous consumerism is your thing, mungs love Ocado (the van parks right outside your house and everything, just don't ask them (the mungs) how it's fuelled).

Tressilliana said...

I think you'll find that Tesco and Sainsbury's vans also park right outside the house, Anon 16.50. As to fuel, they all run on fairy dust, don't they?

Tamsin said...

I'm a convert to Aldi - and their Harvest Morn brand. Rice cakes with chocolate topping - it's rice cake and so has to be good for you!

Seriously, though. Good stuff, low prices, mimimum packaging and boxes that we could not manage without when doing booksales.

Anonymous said...

We need a Waitrose nearby. Tescos are in Lewisham, Lidle 500meters away. Rather than a middle of the road supermarket choice that offers no really different selection and why not attract a bit of money to Lee Green. There are loads of customers who would appreciate the choice from the commuting professionals living in Lee Green, Eltham and a lot the residents in Blackheath.

Anonymous said...

Tresilliana - you're missing the point. Mungs want people to know they shop at Waitrose - it's like a bag for life, but without the big schlep, yah?

Anonymous said...

Yeah - right on! It's like those people with their big satellite dishes and 50" widescreens prominently displayed in the window. They could get cable but want the neighbours to know they can afford Sky TV!

Anonymous said...

Gosh. I wonder why my comment on the reaction of St Modwen to future PR pitches was not used?

Anonymous said...

It made no sense to me

David Icke said...

Because its only you and 3 others who are fascinated by imaginary conspiracies, UFOs, the lizard threat, black helicopters, the iluminatie, Bilderburg, and One World Government.

Mainly that.

kolp said...

If I had a magic wand I'd set up a bike making factory a la Brompton.

There's lots of competing demands for space in London, I don't think supermarket shopping facilities are the most pressing case. Obviously London is lacking in homes for the amount of people that want them. So that has to be highly considered too.
Then there's school places, the council could be a bit more imaginative than an Asda but then look at Loampit Vale...

Anonymous said...

Couldn’t agree more with some of your comments, Nick. But calling St Modwen’s claims “hogwash“ suggests to me that you do not know this area particularly well.

Also, I do not understand who the following is referenced to, St Modwen’s or - and as you have said a subsidiary of a client of yours:

“This looks like a cynical ploy to get permission to develop another large supermarket in the borough, rather than a considered attempt to regenerate Lee. None of the other projects featured on the developer's website give any kind of reassurance that they know how to handle a site like this.”

It being ‘developed as a residential area, with a high quality public realm and some leisure facilities (like a gym) that would really attract customers who might then be persuaded to try the local pubs or restaurants in the area‘ would not work in that quarter either. Being a property owner there, I‘m not certain there is the money. So 'arguing for good honest housing' isn't realistic.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon -

"But calling St Modwen’s claims “hogwash“ suggests to me that you do not know this area particularly well."

Could you expand on that please? Have you any examples of a similar location, where the presence of a supermarket has driven local regeneration well? Could you explain why the presence of the existing Sainsbury's has not helped regeneration and why a second supermarket would make a difference.

Re: your question, I was writing about St Modwen's plans, no-one else's.

"[Residential] would not work in that quarter either. Being a property owner there, I‘m not certain there is the money. So 'arguing for good honest housing' isn't realistic."

Why would an attractive housing development just down the road from Blackheath not attract buyers? London is crying out for new housing, prices have remained high, etc.

Anonymous said...

@Anon -

["But calling St Modwen’s claims “hogwash“ suggests to me that you do not know this area particularly well."]

“Could you expand on that please?“

Not knowing an area is not living or having been there, which by your statement is appear that you hadn‘t. Or at least don’t go… long enough to know what you‘re talking about.

“Have you any examples of a similar location, where the presence of a supermarket has driven local regeneration well?”

Tesco’s Lewisham way - according to you in a previous post.

“Could you explain why the presence of the existing Sainsbury's has not helped regeneration and why a second supermarket would make a difference.”

Sainsbury has not upped its game, its store is depressed. A new contender, not just ASDA, would create competition.

“Re: your question, I was writing about St Modwen's plans, no-one else's.”

St Modwen’s based its plans around ASDA’s interest, amongst others - didn’t you visit their exhibition? - so your statement below must also have been aimed at ASDA - before you realised it was a subsidiary of a client.

“This looks like a cynical ploy to get permission to develop another large supermarket in the borough, rather than a considered attempt to regenerate Lee. None of the other projects featured on the developer's website give any kind of reassurance that they know how to handle a site like this.”

You should ask ASDA. I’m pretty sure I know what they’d say. Not that you could print it.

“Why would an attractive housing development just down the road from Blackheath not attract buyers? London is crying out for new housing, prices have remained high, etc.”

In an ideal world. The question is though, why would someone want to spend so much money near a gauntlet of council houses, which boasts just a Sainsbury for large shopping?

I know the council is working to improve this, but I wouldn’t put my money anywhere other than the leafy side roads. Sorry if that sounds cynical.

Brockley Nick said...

"Not knowing an area is not living or having been there, which by your statement is appear that you hadn‘t. Or at least don’t go… long enough to know what you‘re talking about."

I know the area very well, having lived around here virtually all mu life. You haven't explained what it is I have written that makes you think that - you started by saying you agreed with many of my points.

"Tesco’s Lewisham way - according to you in a previous post."

No - Tesco on Lewisham Way is a small high street shop, not a large supermarket. I never made any claims for its ability to transform an area - I think I just said it would add a bit of footfall and it was nice to have a free cash machine. Not comparable with a supermarket-led masterplan for a very big site.

"Sainsbury has not upped its game, its store is depressed. A new contender, not just ASDA, would create competition."

Yes, it would create competition - and that might be nice for supermarket customers, but that's not what the article is about - it's about the regeneration of the area. Bugsby Way in Charlton has good competition between Asda and Sainsbury, but you wouldn't want to live there.

"St Modwen’s based its plans around ASDA’s interest... so your statement below must also have been aimed at ASDA - before you realised it was a subsidiary of a client."

No, it's St Modwen's scheme (Asda their preferred partner) they own the land are responsible for it. So it's aimed at them. It's just not a very good scheme, that's all.
"You should ask ASDA. I’m pretty sure I know what they’d say. Not that you could print it."

I don't understand what point you are trying to make.

"In an ideal world. The question is though, why would someone want to spend so much money near a gauntlet of council houses, which boasts just a Sainsbury for large shopping?"

For someone who claims to know the area so well, that's a strange comment. Lee conservation area is just next door and is full of handsome streets. Blackheath's up the road and houses within a wide radius of the village are sought-after. Most new developments in London are on unpromising bits of land, because that's what's left to build on. It's the developers' job to make their land attractive to buyers by coming up with good schemes.

Anonymous said...

What's a "gauntlet of council housing" is that like a "mitten of flats" a "glove of mansions"? Almost every area of London has a mix, it's a damn sight better than someof the divided cites you see elsewhere in the world. Long may it be encouraged, living in social housing does not make you a bad neighbour no more than living in a five bed pile make you an unpleasant snob.

Anonymous said...

Let them eat Waitrose then.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add,I never said it made someone a 'bad neighbour' because they live in council housing - lived in one myself - but it will dictate the type of store you get. Unpleasant as that may sound, you inverted snob.

Nick, surely if ASDA is a subsidiary of your Wal-Mart they may have issue with your view.

Anonymous said...

Lee isn't dominated by council housing. You used the phrase "gauntlet" by which I can only assume you mean "run the gauntlet" which implies its an area to be avoid. It's a negative phrase. Not sure why that makes me a snob of any persuasion. We should encourage mixed areas rather than provide amenities that encourage ghettos.

And what's with the conspiracy theory about nick? Stop being silly.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, you never stop with the insults. ‘Snob’ 'Conspiracy theory‘?

Nick headed is piece Poor Benighted Leegate”

Adjective: 1.In a state of pitiful or contemptible intellectual or moral ignorance, typically owing to a lack of opportunity. 2.Overtaken by darkness.

I happen to believe that people should not be formed or form themselves in ghettoes - of any kind.

Yes that includes council ‘estates’. And yes gauntlets of any kind should be avoided by designers, and people investing in them.

In fact my road is leafy, and has a healthy mixture of council tenants. Qualified for your self-conscious pinko-ears: with a healthy mixture of ‘snobs’.

Stop being a twat.

Anonymous said...

Pinko.... Excellent use of a daft generic Express editorial. Says more about you than me...ho hum.

Rob said...

Why not put a Waitrose in. Nice!!!

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