Traders at the Elephant and Castle shopping centre were dealt a double blow last week, by the closure of Tesco and the erection of a large unsightly hoarding, isolating shops on the second floor.
The 8-foot high boards surround the bottom of the escalator to the Palaces Bingo and Bowling Hall, which has now closed. Delancey claim it is necessary to prevent children getting onto the escalator and becoming a site for anti-social behaviour. Traders, however, have demanded its removal, saying it is blighting their trade and customers will assume that the centre is closing.
Traders were also rocked by Tesco’s announcement that it was permanently closing the Metro supermarket in the centre. This follows four weeks of closure, to deal with a mice problem.
Local news website, SE1, reported Tesco as saying "We have today announced to colleagues that we have taken the difficult decision to close our Elephant & Castle Metro store”. An earlier announcement had said that the store was only “temporarily closed" while Tesco worked with Delancey and “a specialist pest control company to take urgent steps to deal with this problem”.
Both these events will reduce the ‘footfall’ in the centre, which smaller traders rely on for their custom and the responsibility lies squarely with shopping centre owner and developer Delancey.
The hoarding on the second floor is oversized, obtrusive and unnecessary. The Palaces can be safely closed by securing the doors at the top of the escalator, and the escalator itself does not need an 8-foot high barrier to prevent children climbing on to it. The hoarding was erected without any consultation with traders and is having a detrimental impact on their businesses.
Delancey manage centre's decline
Delancey have been the landlords of the shopping centre since 2013, when it bought the centre with the express intention of demolition and redevelopment. Tesco’s departure is clear evidence that it has failed to keep the centre as a fit place to trade. It follows traders’ long-term complaints that the centre is being deliberately run-down, complaints which were described as having ‘some validity’ by Southwark Council planning officers.
Delancey are obliged by the terms of its legal s106 agreement to give 6-month notice of both the centre’s closure and any demolition. Campaign groups and traders fear that it is evading this obligation, by closing the centre bit-by-bit. Many traders are also angry at being excluded by Delancey in its allocation of alternative premises. The latest figures from Latin Elephant show that there are still 62 shopping centre traders who haven't been offered any relocation space.
Southwark Council have taken no action, either to deal with the rodent problem or to force Delancey to abide faithfully by its s106 agreement.
Petition - Keep Tesco at the Elephant!
We think that it cannot be beyond Tesco's resources to solve this problem and Southwark Council should be insisting that it does so, not standing idly by. The Up the Elephant Campaign has started a petition, 'Keep Tesco at the Elephant! - please sign it and share!
Save the Elephant's Diverse Community!
35% Campaign is part of the Up the Elephant legal challange to the planning approval for the redevelopment of the centre, on the grounds that it fails to provide enough social rented housing. If you would like to help us in our fight, you can donate to our funding appeal here.