Many neighbourhoods are experiencing very significant regeneration involving the demolition of large swathes of well-known and sometimes iconic buildings. The physical demolition and construction are, though, only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the disruption.
To get to the point when things start happening on the ground takes years of application, development, planning and consultation. This creates enormous uncertainty and makes business planning exceptionally hard.
In such periods of uncertainty business owners tend to look inward and focus on their operation. Getting them to think beyond the immediate future and to plan for an uncertain world requires patience and commitment. It also requires visible advocacy that gets results in the short term and builds confidence for the whole community.
After years of discussion and delay the Elephant and Castle area is going through radical and extensive transformation. A key component of the transformation is the proposed demolition of the existing 50-year-old shopping centre that was planned and designed for a very different era.
The Centre is effectively owned by clients of Delancey Real Estate Asset Management Limited. Delancey’s plans extend to the existing shopping as well as the London College of Communications (LCC) on the opposite side of the Elephant and Castle/Newington Butts. The proposed redevelopment will include:
- a brand new, modern shopping centre
- a new college campus for the LCC
- a substantial quantity of new housing
- a new Elephant and Castle Underground Station (Northern Line).
The shopping centre hosts 86 businesses, of which 25 are small independent operations. It is still a fully trading centre as planning permission has not yet been awarded. Southwark Council is anxious to ensure that these traders are supported through this period of uncertainty and in due course, if and when, planning permission is granted, enabled to plan for relocation and supported to move when the centre closes.
The independent traders are anxious about their future. They don’t have a formally constituted trading association, so find it difficult to find a coordinated voice on issues that affect them.
Tree Shepherd has been appointed to work directly with all the independent traders. We are getting to know them, finding out what their main concerns are and helping them start to plan for the future. As common concerns are uncovered we are helping to communicate them and get them resolved. We have already helped to set up a drop-in session for traders who have any issues in the centre.
Once planning permission is approved we will be working with all the traders to help them find and secure suitable alternative premises. The council has already negotiated for the creation of business units in the area, which could be suitable for many of the displaced businesses. We are already taking an active role in designing a relocation support package with the council and also bringing forward some creative ideas for other new trading spaces in the immediate vicinity of the centre.