Wilko have claimed that rents are too high for the shop to be viable. The closure follows other recent closures such as Shoe Zone.
The shopping centre – like many others – is suffering from online competition, though landlords are not always responding to lower rents to permit competition.
Another issue with Erith is relatively few homes being built in the town centre compared to what was planned.
If homes were built in nearby areas it could breath fresh life into the town and permit commercial outlets to continue and new ones to open. Erith is hardly flush with good pubs and places to meet friends and family.
One such site ripe for improvement is the nearby vast Morrisons’ car park. It’s directly beside the Thames and would be a great spot to live, shop and relax, but is currently wasted.
New homes on the car park would also provide extra custom to Morrisons from local residents. The retailer could even make a double-storey car park if worried about loss of parking.
They could perhaps in time rebuild the entire store with housing above as well as the car park.
That’s the only way places like Erith shops have a future in coming decades as behaviour changes. Create new homes and places people want to visit and spend time – especially to socialise.
There are no plans to build on the shopping centre – at least publicly. Nothing has even appeared – as yet – on Bexley’s planning website.
Bexley council themselves did have plans for an outlet shopping centre down in belvedere alongside 8,000 homes.
That’s another area with vast car parks that with new homes could revitalise the area and bring many million to the authority to invest in local improvements.
While Bexley council look into Crossrail extensions at £3.2 billion (spoiler: That ain’t happening) easier means to improve the area are not being taken.
Unless they are, areas like Erith shopping centre and Belvedere will continue to see shops leave.