No active frontage for former Granada building, despite planning

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Author: N. Knight
Granada-Hoardings
Planning application for the former Granada cinema redevelopment  was granted with plans to implement an active frontage with shops along St John’s Hill Road. However, after years of site construction panels, we are left with a long grey painted wooden hoarding, and no active marketing to open any retail unit soon at that place.We have wrote to the Council for their acknowledgement that the former Granada Cinema development has not been built as consented, and for their support that Wandsworth Planning Department will take appropriate measures to ensure the owners of the property do comply with their duties in regard to provision of the retail units fronting St John’s Hill.
Planning & listed building consent were approved on 7th September 2006 (ref: 2005/4544) for the new residential units; the conversion of the auditorium for the use of a church; and to use ancillary space for retail, office & restaurant space.
The image below is the southern elevation facing St John’s Hill, which was received by Wandsworth on 21st June 2010 as part of some general amendments, and clearly shows the open windows on the ground floor for the retail units still remaining.

Southern elevation facing St John’s Hill
Southern elevation facing St John’s Hill

The planning committee decreed on the 16th February 2006 to grant listed building consent subject to the following conditions, with the 13th condition relating to the retail units, and copied below for your information:

13. Notwithstanding what is shown on the approved drawings details of the new shopfronts fronting St John’s Hill shall be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority prior to commencement of the development hereby approved.

The frontage facing St John’s Hill was described by the projects architect as providing an important addition and enhanced the public realm for the entire development. They also stated that the retail units would provide an active frontage, also considered to be of importance, and no doubt the addition of these units would have swayed the committee.
Alterations to the interior auditorium for the church were approved on 28th July 2011, and included within the application was a ground floor drawing, depicting the retail units fronting St John’s Hill as being protected. On the drawing it states “Future retail unit – subject to separate planning application”. As per the above planning condition, details of the shop fronts must have been approved; otherwise the development could not have commenced. A snippet of this plan is shown below:

Ground floor drawing, depicting the retail units fronting St John’s Hill as being protected
Ground floor drawing, depicting the retail units fronting St John’s Hill as being protected

Unfortunately these retail units have not been installed as per the planning consent. At no time has the developer actively marketed the units, which would only ever be feasible once the units were completed. The cost of fitting out the units would have been accounted for within the development appraisal (with little or no value applied), and therefore the developer is profiting from non-compliance of these units, and Wandsworth is missing out on business rates, employment and an addition to the local environment.
For too long the St John’s Hill frontage has been a painted wooden hoarding, which detracts from the quality of Clapham Junction town centre, and is wholly unacceptable to this high quality neighbourhood. I would be astounded if the hoarding meets Wandsworth’s stringent design guides, and if there is nothing the Council can do, then it sets a dangerous precedent for other developments.
Wandsworth Council has a duty to ensure that such a visible and prominent development is completed as per the consent, and forces the owners to take action to comply with their own design.
We look forward to hearing from them, and understanding what actions can and will be taken to rectify the situation (a letter on that matter was sent to Wandsworth Council Planning department on Tuesday 17th Dec.).

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CJAG News editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
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4 Comments

  1. Frustrating, and rather curious – well done for picking up on this and following up with WBC. I’ve seen many cases (such as Lombard Road, and the flats along Queenstown Road) where developers left the commercial units empty for years, then applied to convert them to residential.
    But I can’t see that happenign here as there’s no realistic prospect of the developers claiming that there’s “no market demand” for a shop here, partly as they have made no active attempt to advertise the premises for hire (or even fit them out to a stage where they could be hired), and the environmental quality of the location means they’d never be able to put flats in the space (ground floor, single aspect, main road…). I suspect many of us would be quick to pounce on anyone claiming the unit had been ‘actively marketed’.
    Plus, this would be worth ore as retail than residential. With typical shop rents for a unit like this running at over £20kpa here, the rental income over the last three years would outweigh, by a large margin, the cost of fitting a few windows, tiling the floor and letting the unit. And the occupancy rate in the area is good – with quite heavy foot traffic past the site, no-one seems to have struggled to let nearby premises – this seems a strange case. I wonder – could the church be planning to take this space over itself down the line?

  2. Progress at last – there’s a planning application in for a shopfront, 2014/2196. It seems the unit has been let to Raft Furniture (who have three other shops north of the river).
    There’s another application in to regularise the fact that the developers built three more flats than were covered in the planning permission (albeit for reasonably sensible reasons).
    And a more suspect one, with a very weak justification, that seeks to move the two required car club spaces from the development’s own car park to two apparently randomly selected residents’ bays in the neighbouring streets – if I was a neighbour, in what’s already a very parking-constrained area, I’d be less than happy about this.

  3. Dear David, Cyril
    I am a resident in Lumiere Apartments, and a member of the Committee of the Lumiere Residents Association
    Our understanding of the planning application is not only for the frontage to be removed and therefore a commercial tenant to occupy the space, but also for the frontage of the listed building (i.e. brickwork) to be restored. Could I please ask the the CJAG get in touch so that the LRA and the CJAG can work collectively with the council to get these matters addressed – they are in our common interest of course.
    Details submitted in the form below
    All the best
    Saquib Ramday, 601 Lumiere Apartments

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