Bluewater shopping centre changes: Owner seeks to convert shop space

In a sign of changing consumer trends Bluewater shopping centre’s owner has applied to convert a number of retail units into leisure space.

That includes bars and restaurants at the site on an upper floor of the Rose Gallery and Winter Garden.



Many shopping centres have been seeing long term declines in visits, with the trend clearly seen across the country in recent years.

Figures show shopping centres lagging high streets and retail parks in returning shoppers since 2020, with latest figures at 82 per cent.

Units to be altered

Bluewater though is somewhat of an exception to most shopping centres in terms of design. For one it’s vast and on an entirely different scale and its location.

Compare that to, say, Lewisham were owners Landsec seek to demolish and rebuild as a mixed-use development including housing above retail and leisure units. Landsec are also the main shareholder at Bluewater after a deal in 2021.

Lewisham shopping centre set for demolition in future

While we wont be seeing Bluewater demolished anytime soon, the same trend towards increased leisure activities are evident as more switch to online shopping.



Where the future lies with Bluewater is  interesting point. It’s in a chalk quarry somewhat cut off from nearby areas. Built in 1999, it’s done well to withstand the change to online shopping ever since, with thousands of homes built in Ebbflseet and beyond helping.

It’s also car dependent on the whole. That’s a problem if fewer people are learning to drive. While it does have bus access from numerous areas, it’s hardly quick on the 96 from south east London. Other TfL routes are low frequency.

A standard 1990s design

Kent buses operated by Arriva are often expensive and slow.

So Bluewater may continue seeking to change retail space on an ongoing basis to stay relevant, but will attempts be made to build homes on some of the vast car parks surrounding the site in years and decades to come?

Courtesy Google. Vast car parks. Some are single level while others are decked

The site has a whopping 13,000 parking spaces with many single level. Decking more would enable developable land without touching the centre itself. Housing and further leisure sites on those car parks may arrive.

One to watch, as the shopping centres of old evolve or die.

The application at Bluewater can be seen here.

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2 thoughts on “Bluewater shopping centre changes: Owner seeks to convert shop space

  • Empty quarry in Cornwall became the Eden project. With green issues at forefront of the agenda now decades on, is it too much to think it could happen here and make Bluewater world famous too?

    Reply
  • I think they have missed a trick at Bluewater. They are lacking somewhere just to go have a night out. It’s all restaurants. Recently had a family down and we headed there just to grab a drink, had to pay huge prices in Browns just for a beer.
    Yes, they have the cinema but what else? Get something to entice people to go there other than shopping. open a Lloyds ( Wetherspoons ) have some bars and clubs etc… Not much in the Greenhithe area to do sicially other than a couple of dreary pubs. Nowhere for the ‘kids’ to hang out.

    Reply

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