Read the council minutes regarding the decision here.
I've copied the sections that seem to relate most directly to Oriental City. Here they are (the underlining is mine):
RELOCATION OF ORIENTAL CITY: During demolition and construction work the applicants have offered to acquire a site nearby in which to re-locate OC to avoid as much disruption to trade as possible over a three year period. This will be subject to a separate planning permission and the degree of take-up by traders. In any case, this application is committed (through a S.106) to the reprovision of OC on this site.
Proposed Retail Provision:
The proposed Oriental City is ‘like for like’ in terms of quantum of floorspace. However, qualitatively, it will be significantly superior to that existing both in terms of nature of floorspace and efficiency. The floorspace will continue to retail both food and non-food items being made up of unit shops as well as a larger food supermarket. The ancillary food court and restaurant services will remain, forming an important day/evening activity at the site. The floorspace will remain restricted by goods condition to the sale of Oriental goods only.
EFFECT ON EXISTING ORIENTAL CITY DEVELOPMENT The carrying out of the redevelopment will clearly require the displacement of the existing Oriental City from the site. The effect on the businesses of the individual tenants is not a planning consideration. However, the fact that the existing retail offer and other elements of Oriental City will be lost during the reconstruction period is a factor to be taken into account. However, the current retail element on the site will of course be replaced in the new scheme, as will the community space. Accordingly, it is considered that the temporary loss of the existing Oriental City facilities is more than outweighed by the fact that the latter elements will be re-provided, and by the overall benefits of the new scheme.
Issue: Failure to consult the oriental community and produce a Racial Impact Assessment. There has been wide consultation with those who live and work in the locality (see CONSULTATIONS) but not with those who visit or shop at the store. A community worker acting on behalf of the wider Chinese and Oriental community across the South-East is concerned they have not been engaged in the process and the application does not comply with the London Plan (para. 3.103) in requiring the production of a Racial Impact Assessment:- The Mayor will work with boroughs....to look at the proposed content of social and economic assessments and address the impacts by these assessments into the development of policies.........the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 ....requires local authorities to carry out race equality impact assessment. but such assessments relate to policy documents and not to individual planning applications. The specalised nature of the existing retail store, which is to be replaced on site, is recognised in its appeal to all cultural and age groups and the Council's Unitary Deveopment Plan has already been the subject of an Equalities Impact Assessment. The applicants have also undertaken a socio- economic impact assessment as part of the EIA and found the scheme compliant. In addition to this, the current owner, landlord and original founder of the OC concept has confirmed that OC Ltd. holds the head lease of the entire premises of which all the other tenants are sub-tenants. OC Ltd. has been working with the applicant to secure vacant possession and in turn separate tenants meetings have taken place. OC Ltd. have a contractual relationship with the applicant to acquire a new head lease in respect of the new OC.
What does it all mean? Well to my untrained eyes it seems that there will be an Oriental City in the new development, that will at least be the same size in terms of floorspace and will still be a distinctly 'Asian' retail area. I hope I'm interpreting that correctly.
It also states this is not just a shopkeepers vs. developers issue, because there is also the main OC landlord who actually holds the lease to the shopping centre. So presumably the final decision as to what happens will be a three way negotiation between the developer, the OC lease holder and the shopkeepers.
In short, it seems that OC is going to move to an unknown place for the next 3 years and there appears to be a statement of intent to create a new Oriental City in the finished development, rather than get rid of it completely.
So mixed feelings really. It's encouraging to see that the plans do include a new Oriental City but also a bit worrying: Are the developers legally obliged to deliver what's promised the document or can things change in the next few years? A brand new Oriental City would be great but will it really happen?
Update: And of course the more pressing problem is where the 'temporary' OC is going to be. It's not going to be easy for everyone to relocate, in the expectation that they will all move back again at a later date.