Elephant and Castle shopping centre traders could be offered a new home – in garages at the bottom of a residential tower block.
The council organised a meeting with Perronet House residents to discuss proposals to “create new affordable space for local businesses” beneath the block.
Traders have been looking for a new home following news that property developer Delancey’s plans to demolish the shopping centre in 2019 and redevelop the site into a new shopping centre, university campus, and homes.
Councillor Mark Williams, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said the unused garages could create a new shopping area with eleven retail units facing on to the proposed Elephant Square.
“As well as providing handy local shopping for residents, the shops can also be used for the independent traders that could be displaced by the proposed shopping centre redevelopment,” he told the News.
“From our discussions with the traders they have made it clear that they want to stay local and not have to wait several years for the proposed new shopping centre to be completed.
“Part of the disused garage space has recently been successfully converted into the St George’s pharmacy.
“The proposals are at a very early stage and we wanted to know what residents of Perronet House think about the idea before discussing the plans in more detail with the independent traders from the shopping centre.”
Perronet House resident Richard Reynolds said he thought the traders deserved “better quality” and that residents “desperately” needed the garages as storage space.
“This is history repeating itself,” said the 40-year-old planner, who has lived in the block for thirteen years.
“Four years ago the council pushed to have half the garages and parking spaces taken from us because a planning application was made to put a pharmacy down there that finally opened in spring this year.
“So four years later, a tiny little pharmacy compared to what the original planning application was opened.
“Rather than restore those garages back to what they were intended for – which should’ve happened as soon as the pharmacy realised they didn’t need them – the poor traders shouldn’t be pushed in there because it’s really a very unworkable space.”
Residents were due to meet with the council officers yesterday, Wednesday, to discuss the proposals before they were presented to traders.