The closure of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre - previously scheduled for the end of July - has been postponed by nearly two months due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier this year Delancey, the firm leading the redevelopment of the shopping centre and the nearby London College of Communication site, announced that the retail complex would close its doors on 30 July.
Under the terms of legal agreements linked to the planning permission for the redevelopment, the shopping centre can't shut until the temporary retail space for small businesses – currently under construction in Castle Square on Elephant Road – is up and running.
Delancey told SE1 in a statement on Tuesday: "As a result of the delays caused by COVID-19 social distancing, and with a new construction timeline which ensures optimum safe working conditions on site for contractors on Castle Square, we have taken the decision to extend the closing date of the shopping centre to Thursday 24 September.
"This revised closure date allows time for the completion of the temporary retail structure at Castle Square and the fit out of the units by our traders.
"Keeping our traders informed has always been a key priority for us, and all have been notified of the revised closure date.
"The independent traders' rent and service charge payments have been entirely waived since the end of March 2020 and will continue to be so up to closure.
"We will continue to support all our traders with marketing initiatives all the way up to closure and relocation."
Cllr Johnson Situ, Southwark's cabinet member for growth, development and planning, said: "This is a sensible decision given the uncertainty at the moment, and traders need to know there is somewhere for them to move to when they can re-open.
"We remain committed to providing as much support as possible for the traders during these difficult months and beyond."
Campaigners have also welcomed the news but continue to highlight the uncertainty facing small traders – many from BAME background – facing the need to prepare for relocation during a pandemic.
Latin Elephant, which promotes the participation and inclusion of minority groups at the Elephant & Castle, told us: "A similar sensitive approach by developers and Southwark Council is urgently needed for the around 60 small independent traders that have not been offered a relocation space and still have nowhere to go, despite section 106 obligations and more recently Southwark's pledge of a new transition fund."
Latin Elephant has also questioned the developer's claim to have notified all businesses of the delayed closure of the shopping centre, noting that traders in some of the railway arches on Elephant Road were not aware of the change of plan.
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