Eltham High street: Transformation or Deterioration?   

Eltham is not exactly the go-to hangout when you are looking for a night out, but it is certainly on its way. This is thanks to the new Vue cinema and restaurant chains Pizza Express and Nando’s. These new additions to Eltham Hight street have really improved the popularity of the area. Being the first cinema to open in Eltham Town Centre in decades, this new food and entertainment hotspot opened in late April of 2019 after high anticipation from the residents and newcomers of the area. 

This new feature to Eltham High Street is said to be part of the lengthy upgrade scheme over recent years having millions of pounds invested into revamping the almost forgotten main road after many closures of big high street brands like Debenhams and many restaurants. However, some people are not all too pleased with the change. This redecoration- especially in front of the cinema and restaurants adjacent to it- has brought a few odd parking and loading bays on the pavement and customers and people passing by, are annoyed at the ‘very crammed pavement space’ by the road. Other than this, there doesn’t seem to be too many concerns with the upgrade as it has given Eltham a great chance to prosper and lifts the high street’s popularity in many people’s opinion. 

 Erica Knowl, a resident of Eltham town for over ten years said that this new cinema ‘appeals to people of all ages’ and ‘the new restaurants introduce a wider range of people to Eltham and helps to create more jobs. Another member of the public, Michael Carn who lives further away from the area says these new shops are ‘serving quality food with excellent service’ and that it is ‘a highlight of the high street and have a great atmosphere.’ However, although most people are enjoying these new branches of their favourite cinemas and restaurants, some are starting to see certain issues arising. Deborah Caretti expressed her frustration with ‘how quickly the cinema is deteriorating in terms of cleanliness and order’ as since its opening, both the times that she visited with her children there were issues with teenagers being disrespectful and littering the area. This is an issue that affects many places on the high street and is ‘quite frustrating for people who put hard work into ensuring these places are good enough for customers to be interested’ 

Many of both the residents and newcomers of the area believe that the cinema and restaurants give Eltham a better reputation and atmosphere. The new shops are also doing well in terms of pulling in many customers every day and most of them leave satisfied with their experience, and many wanting to come again. 

However, not all are pleased with the recent changes to the Greater London town. Some are feeling let down by the pricey restructuring Eltham has gone through. Margaret Sall, a regular high street consumer is unimpressed with the absence of big High Street brands Debenhams and Mothercare. She says the closure of department store Debenhams in January of 2018 was ‘unexpected’ and ‘disappointing’ along with the removal of Mothercare in the summer of 2018.  

Eltham seems to be trying to improve its image among other Royal Greenwich Boroughs but could starting with the High street be the wrong approach? The answer is unclear for some of its residents.