The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre could be refurbished and extended despite a long-standing expectation that the building would be demolished as part of the regeneration of the area.
St Modwen, the firm which has owned the centre since 2002, has revealed that it is considering revamping and extending the 46-year-old shopping mall.
The company published its financial results on Monday including a presentation to investors giving details of future projects.
The document on the company's website says that it is working on proposals for a "major refurbishment and extension" at Elephant & Castle.
The future of the shopping centre has been a matter of contention between St Modwen, Southwark Council and its development partner Lend Lease for a number of years, but it has always been accepted that the centre would be demolished in the coming years no matter which company controlled the land.
"Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre is nearly 100 per cent let and remains a superb asset for Southwark and London," says Tim Seddon, London & South East regional director at St Modwen. "We are keen to explore ways in which the centre can contribute to the wider regeneration.
"St Modwen has spoken with the London Borough of Southwark regarding options for the future of the centre. Refurbishment and extension of the centre is one of those options. It is very early days and we will comment further at the appropriate time."
"We do, however, look forward to hearing St Modwen's proposals for the centre in more detail and to discussing them with our development partner Lend Lease. We intend to work closely with St Modwen to reach a shared view on a sustainable and viable set of proposals that can meet all parties' objectives for this important site."
"The council needs to stop dithering and get round a table with Lend Lease and St Modwen and sort out the centre's future once and for all."
Newington ward Lib Dem councillor Cathy Bowman, who was responsible for the Elephant & Castle regeneration project as deputy council leader until the 2006 elections, said: "This is another Labour let-down for local residents.
"First Labour signs a development deal worth many millions of pounds less than had previously been on the table, then they back track on re-provision of leisure centre facilities.
"Now it looks like the long-promised new town centre will in fact be the same old shopping centre with maybe a lick of new paint, if we're lucky!"
In its full-year results, St Modwen said: "Testament to the fact that well located and well managed secondary retail property can prove to be a reliable investment is the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in London.
"The centre now comprises 82 tenants and occupancy has increased from 93 per cent to 98 per cent during 2010. As a result of 15 new lettings and lease renewals, the net rent receivable has increased by 3.2 per cent during the year to £3.8 million per annum."
Lend Lease has recently taken over the official website for the Elephant & Castle regeneration scheme. In its frequently asked questions section, the Australian developer says: "The council, Lend Lease and the owners of the shopping centre are having discussions about an economically viable scheme on this site to form a gateway to Elephant & Castle and bring development forward as soon as possible.
"The shopping centre forms part of the regeneration agreement with Lend Lease and the proposals for this site will form part of the master plan."
Do you welcome this possible reprieve for the shopping centre?Join the discussion right now
For the latest local news and events direct to your inbox every Monday, you need our weekly email newsletter SE1 Direct.
7,000+ locals read it every week. Can you afford to miss out?
Read the latest issue before signing up