Since June 2017, Tree Shepherd has been based in the iconic 1960s shopping centre at the Elephant and Castle. From there we have been helping a group of 28 long-standing independent businesses to survive and navigate the planned regeneration of the area, which will include the bringing down of the centre. Having established a successful outreach programme in Peckham, assisting businesses being affected by regeneration change, we had a wealth of experience to bring to this new challenge.
Through continuous outreach, meeting owners at their place of business, and on-going business clinic support, we helped businesses to tackle issues around rising costs, declining footfall, uncertainties around the planning process and management issues with the shopping centre itself. Over time we have also started to help them think about their future and start to plan for change. Where they wanted it, we became their voice at meetings with Southwark Council and the developers Delancey. Where they needed it, we offered confidential advice and support for their businesses.
Since this September things have changed quite dramatically. It had become increasingly apparent that many more businesses were in need of independent business advice after planning permission was granted in July. Our support role was rapidly expanded to include all independent businesses operating within the “red line” i.e. everyone in and around the shopping centre building. This included the all the indoors concessions, and the outside market stall holders and traders operating kiosks and containers plus two large units in the railway arches on Elephant Road. In very short order we reconfigured our programme to provide support to an additional 50 businesses within the existing agreed budget.