Shopping Centres

Shopping Centres

Purpose-built enclosed shopping centres became a major feature of London's landscape in the second half of the 20th century. The shopping centre story began in the 1950s when town planners rejected traditional street layouts in favour of shopping precincts. Compact and traffic-free, these were designed for the shopper on foot. Early shopping centres were essentially roofed-over precincts, and London's first opened in 1965 at Elephant & Castle, part of a scheme to make the area the 'Piccadilly of the South'.

A second type of shopping centre arrived in 1976. Brent Cross in north London typified a new generation of American-style regional shopping malls, built on the fringes of town and designed for car owners.

During the 1980s and 90s, a third type of shopping centre appeared in London's high streets. Hailed by local councils as catalysts of town centre regeneration, these local centres aimed to be places for community life and leisure, as well as places to shop.

The fourth type of shopping centre is the out-of-town mega-centre. At the end of the 20th century, the London region was home to two of Britain's largest examples: Lakeside near Thurrock, opened in 1990, and Bluewater beyond Dartford, opened in 1999.

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