Further confirmation that the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre is unlikely to be demolished was provided by Southwark Council's cabinet on Tuesday when it resolved to enter into an agreement with the centre's owners.
Tuesday's decision represents a confirmation of the in-principle decision made by the borough's Labour cabinet in May to cooperate with the centre's owners on plans to incorporate the structure of the existing building into an extended and improved shopping centre.
In June St Modwen, which owns the shopping centre in a joint venture with Salhia Real Estate, published two images of early concepts for the redevelopment of the building to include new larger "anchor" retail units as well as new homes above the centre.
Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration, said that transforming the shopping centre is "absolutely essential to regenerating the Elephant & Castle area".
She said: "What's very important is that the [development] provides the opportunity to create a much better shopping destination for Elephant & Castle, to create a new civic public square and to create new pedestrian links east-west from the Heygate to the town centre through the railway and creating a much better environment where the bus stops are."
The agreement sets a target date for an outline planning application to be submitted by the end of September 2012 and a full planning application by November 2014 – making it near certain that the centre in its present form will still exist when it reaches its 50th birthday in April 2015.
"Momentum is gaining and we are making substantial progress on all fronts in relation to the planning framework, negotiations with the shopping centre and also with Lend Lease," said Stephen Platts, the council's director of regeneration and neighbourhoods.
"We are on programme to submit planning applications in March next year for three key elements: one will be Rodney Road, one will be the Heygate itself and the other will be St Mary's and the leisure centre."
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