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Catford regeneration: frequently asked questions

The Council has talked about the regeneration of Catford for years. Why hasn't anything happened already and what has changed now?

Previous attempts to regenerate Catford town centre have been hampered by various complex commercial and financial issues, including the number of different landowners with stakes in and around the town centre and a lack of external funding available to aid or enable redevelopment. Now that the Council has ownership of Catford Shopping Centre as well as Milford Towers, it will have more influence on future regeneration plans and can drive things forward more effectively.

What did the Council buy, and how much did it cost?

Catford Regeneration Partnership Limited (CRPL) – the company set up by the Council to manage the Shopping Centre – has bought the leaseholds of all the retail units in the Centre, excluding Tesco, plus the freehold and leaseholds of a number of properties around its boundary, at a cost of £11.52 million. All of these were previously owned by St Modwen Properties. (The Council already owned the freehold of the Shopping Centre.)

How can the Council afford to do this?

The Council has borrowed money to make these purchases. The money will be repaid out of the rents paid by the Centre retailers, until we secure a  commercial deal with a partner or partners that would enable the redevelopment of the Centre to go ahead.

Isn't this a big risk to take in the current environment?

Despite the economic situation the Centre has a high percentage of units let, with new leases being negotiated on the units currently empty, and is popular with retailers. The Council has carried out a full assessment of the risks and is confident that the money invested is secure.

What is the structure of Catford Regeneration Partnership Ltd and what is its purpose?

CRPL is a company limited by shares that is currently wholly owned by the Council. It was decided to use this structure because of its flexibility and attractiveness to potential future regeneration partners. The purpose of CRPL is to manage the Shopping Centre on an ongoing basis and drive forward a regeneration programme for the town centre and the surrounding area.

How much will the redevelopment of the Shopping Centre cost?

This depends on what any future scheme looks like. The Council is aiming to draw up development plans and consider how these will be delivered, which would involve a development partner (or partners) and probably private sector investment.

The Council has no expertise in shopping centre management. How will it see that the tenancies will continue to be managed successfully?

Day-to-day management of the tenancies are being carried out on our behalf by managing agents DTZ.

How will the shopping centre be managed whilst vacant possession is being gained? How will empty units be dealt with?  

CRPL are building break options into the leases where possible, so that vacant possession can be gained at the appropriate time. The company will also pursue all opportunities for short term use of empty units. Maintaining the vitality of the shopping centre is a key issue for CRPL.

Does Catford have any appeal for retailers? What is the market demand?

This is a key question, but early indications are that retailers would come to Catford for the right size unit and with the right mix of shops. A key element is to increase the retail confidence in the town centre.

How will the shopping centre be different in the future? Will there be more floorspace and what will happen with parking provision?  

It is likely that there will be more floorspace and that the units will be larger. Parking provision is being explored at present, but there will be a car park in the development.

What parking provision does Tesco want? 

Supermarkets like to have as much parking as possible. The Council is assessing what is possible and what is necessary to make the town centre work.

How will the community benefit from all this? 

There will be significant community benefits, possibly including new public space and an improved shopping environment.

What are the timescales for the redevelopment of the town centre? 

Following a recent report to the Mayor and Cabinet, we are now working towards a target vacant possession date for the Catford Centre and Milford Towers site of late 2015. This is still subject to many factors, including identifying a deliverable scheme and agreeing commercial terms with the key parties who are, or will be, involved in the redevelopment of the site. The Council will keep the community informed at every stage about changes to the programme.

In the meantime, the decant process for Milford Towers is expected to take until at least mid-2014, while improvements to Catford Broadway should be finished by spring 2014.

What is the current situation regarding the former Catford greyhound stadium site?

Working with the Council, the Greater London Authority (the site’s owner) has appointed Barratt Homes to bring forward a scheme which is broadly the same as that which received planning permission in 2009. This included 589 homes plus a community centre and a small retail area near the stations.

Work on-site is expected to commence by early 2014 for completion in 2017.

What will happen to the Wickes site?

The site will be reviewed and guidance provided in the Catford Town Centre Local Plan. There are currently no detailed proposals for the site, which is outside the Council’s ownership.

How can the problem of the waste land between the railway stations be addressed

This area is not in the Council’s control, but will be investigated as part of the design work for the rest of the town centre. 

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