A new planning application for the former Argos site in Erith states that the shopping centre may be demolished “in 5-10 years”.
If it gains approval it could have a short life, as the application states that during discussions on taking on the site:
It was mentioned that the owners of the shopping mall are considering demolishing the mall within the next 5-10 years and replacing it with a new development. As a result, there is a significant number of unoccupied shops. ICMG Bexley plans to make use of this opportunity by renting space at below-market value for temporary use
Erith’s riverside centre has lost many of its key retailers such as Wilko in recent years.
As we’ve seen across the country, shopping centres have been struggling and seen the biggest reduction in shoppers since the pandemic.
There’s also a need for housing, so redevelopment kills two birds with one stone. New homes will bring custom for those shops that do remain or new ones included in a development.
While there is mention of rebuilding the site, that doesn’t mean all would go. Part of the existing site has flats above retail space.
It’s the rest that lacks that component and which seem most plausible for redevelopment.
Much of Erith’s old town centre was demolished for comprehensive redevelopment in the 1960s. Many fine buildings were lost.
The street above became this.
Any redevelopment offers a chance to at least bring back the traditional street layout to the area plus enhance active street level frontages long lost.
The site was put up for sale and then sold in late 2021 so it was expected that plans would be drawn up since.
Small scale changes were made in 2022 but its hard to see a thriving future for the overall site. The world has changed and many shopping centres are simply not attractive to enough people anymore.
Blank walls line paths through the site, and while a previous revamp of the site did open up spaces and offer a breath of life, that was still around a decade ago.
The centre was of its time where the car was king. London’s population was falling and everyone would drive everywhere.
So despite its location near Erith station, it turned its back on the surrounding area. That car-centric approach didn’t work. This video contains a number of then-and-now images across the town town centre showing the great act of self harm.
Some will mourn now when change is proposed, but Erith can have a brighter future. The many empty units show it doesn’t work as things stand. t rarely did for decades.
Now we await what is coming.