Bexley Council has plans to improve Erith’s shopping centre which has to be a
good thing overall, at present it is not a place I would want to go shopping but
that is maybe a biased opinion. I don’t like shopping full stop.
The current plans are centred on Pier Road which contrary to expectations no longer leads to the longest of the Thames piers; Erith’s. It is confined to the southern boundary of the shopping centre.
Last week’s Cabinet meeting gave just a few hints about what is to happen in the near future.
The subject was introduced by Jane Richardson who according to Bexley’s horribly outdated web published staff tree is Assistant Chief Executive for Growth and Regeneration. She sought authority to prepare a draft Compulsory Purchase Order, to purchase properties under the CPO compensation rules and to find a development partner. She was not currently seeking authority to use CPO powers but was looking to pay compensation to anyone who voluntarily offered property for sale.
Pier Road, she said, was “once a flourishing road made up of grand Victorian villas with commercial and retail premises on the ground floors and was one of Erith’s main thoroughfares. It no longer provides a welcoming entrance”. There are currently more than 50 different occupiers but the Council now owns most of the freeholds and four long leaseholds.
The Council is in contact with every leaseholder etc. and very recently nine of their contacts asked for Council valuations and seven have requested formal offers. “Any purchase at this stage will be by mutual agreement.”
The overall scheme is designed to “provide high quality mixed use commercial and residential development creating a new and attractive gateway to Erith and to encourage greater footfall into the town centre”.
A shopkeeper was present to make representations but by accident or design his microphone was cut off just a few seconds into his address and he remained mute for three minutes with no clue as to what point he might be making.
It was clear from Ms. Richardson’s response that he had accused the Council of “underhand practices” and “the allegations are serious” but she said that no complaints had been recorded. The Council Leader said she wanted to hear more of the allegations.
The Cabinet approved the Pier Road developments going through to the next stage.