Erith shopping centre looks set for demolition

A new planning application for the former Argos site in Erith states that the shopping centre may be demolished “in 5-10 years”.

The applicants are ICMG Bexley who hope to open a temporary school with five classrooms at the site.

Mambocino Coffee shop closed. Another empty unit seen behind

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.

Empty units in the centre

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.

Housing above shop on left. Not so on right

It’s the rest that lacks that component and which seem most plausible for redevelopment.

Blank frontage of post-war centre

Much of Erith’s old town centre was demolished for comprehensive redevelopment in the 1960s. Many fine buildings were lost.

Courtesy Bexley Archives. Former town ceremony. This images marked ceremony to commence demolition

The street above became this.

Erith High Street today – apologies for blur on left

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.

Erith High Street today. Centre revamped in 2000s

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.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

6 thoughts on “Erith shopping centre looks set for demolition

  • The area count do with redeveloping with new homes and retail units..Mixed commercial/housing developments nice seem more popular with retail units and commercial space at street level and new homes ones above. This benefits business and residents..

  • Can’t believe how awful it looks compared with pre demolition. It actually looks quite charming and attractive compared with the concrete and soulless place it became. Very sad.

  • More houses with no shops….. again

    • It’ll almost certainly include shops in any new development.

      Shops only have a future if people live around them.

  • The top picture is actually of Pier Road rather than the High Street. Truth is, the town never really recovered from the 1966 massacre. The side of Pier Road seen in the old photo was demolished with nothing planned to replace it and once Woolworths was rebuilt after a fire the rest of the buildings went with poor quality replacements and a car park.. Arguably if the early 2000s revamp hadn’t happened the brutalist precinct might at least have by now been of historical interest !

    • Sorry, I meant the archive photo, not the top picture , of course!


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