Erith shopping centre has been placed on the market for £18 million.
Construction of the mall saw swathes of Erith’s High Street demolished in the 1960s.
Bexley Council archives from the 1960s capture the occasion when demolition was ceremoniously begun.
Just look at that street. Completely unrecognisable from today. The town centre was obliterated.
Handsome mid-rise buildings comprising housing and shops were brought down for a low rise, car-oriented centre. Many post-war developments get a rough time and we sometimes ignore context and look back with rose tinted glasses, but in the case of Erith it really was a poor scheme.
For as long as remembered it’s been somewhat short of a resounding success. That led to rebuild and remodelling work around 2005 from Rockcliff which saw some homes built on part of the site and work undertaken on accessibility and facades.
It was previously very much a (poor) product of its time; a 1960s shopping centre with extensive use of exposed concrete. In came yellow brick and white render. Neither a patch of what is was before.
UPDATE: Bexley is Bonkers has previously covered the centre and a proposal by a UKIP councillor for Bexley Council to sell the centre to avoid building on parks. At a meeting, a Bexley cllr stated they didn’t own it – which turned out to be false.
As for its future, well it doesn’t take mystic meg to predict a mixed-use development for the entire site is likely down the line. It’s slap-bang in a town centre with good public transport links and part of Bexley Council’s Growth Strategy area.
The Strategy expects 6,000 homes across Erith. To accommodate that sites such as the shopping centre and Morrisons will in all likelihood become mixed-use, with retail at street level and homes above.
New homes and new residents will assist stores moving to new premises on site, after any rebuild work, to gain additional custom. Ultimately a sustainable centre should emerge with far more walkable custom.
Places like Erith are hardly ripe with good pubs and nightlife. Perhaps that will change with many more residents enabling business to succeed.
Land alongside the centre is also earmarked for large-scale building work as part of Erith’s masterplan. So far work has been slow going, with Bexley Council using Compulsory Purchase Powers to obtain land.
A rebuilt shopping centre will no doubt feed into the plan.
Alongside Erith’s 6,000 homes, neighbouring Belvedere is expected to see 8,000. We’ve begun to see the first plans emerge there, including 1,250 homes revealed in April this year – which was covered here.
Erith’s Riverside Centre is not about to see imminent demolition, but it’s not hard to see which way the wind is blowing.