Asda’s planning application (2020/3073) was approved last week, by officer’s delegation (which means it did not go before the Councillor’s committee but was just ratified by a planning officer). However it is worth reading the details of the officer’s report, as we discovered that Asda amended their plan to ditch their very controversial idea of replacing all greenery by a porous resin finish.
Amendments: Proposed removal of trees and vegetation to gardens and landscaped areas and replacement porous resin omitted from the proposals. Landscaped areas would either be retained, or existing low lying vegetation removed and replaced with bark mulch and replacement planting.
Therefore it appears that what is approved is only painting the existing white paint elements of the building with a dark grey colour, and refurbishing the clock tower (including fixing of the clocks).
However, as we suspected, it is a cost cutting exercise and while existing trees should be retained, some of the lower vegetation should be replaced by “low maintenance ground” covered with bark mulch.
- The part along Falcon Lane /car park should retain existing planting
- The large part at the corner of Falcon Lane/Lavender Hill should only keep the 3 trees but all the other vegetation should disappear and be replaced by bark mulch.
- The green patch beside the post office should be replace by “low maintenance ground cover planting completed with bark mulch“.
- The steps and side-walk should be enlarged to provide a much wider access.
We still deeply regret that the plan that was approved included removing the largest area of vegetation replaced with bark mulch. It might be low maintenance in term of pruning as there is no greenery except a few trees, but it might very quickly become dirty with detritus if it is not properly cleaned regularly and maintained (the recommendation is to mulch twice a year at least).
According to the report (individual comments are removed from the Council’s website after decision taken) the proposal generated and impressive 98 objections and … 0 support! There is no doubt that it was a great help to the officer to explain to Asda why they needed to change their plans.
Indeed, it is very likely that Asda decided to submit an amended version of their application after being warned by Wandsworth planning officers that such a plan to remove all greenery, as they initially intended, was creating an outcry in the area and that it could lead to refusal.
On the other hand, the planning officer used clearly part of his report to highlight the lack of power of the planning authority in Asda’s plans:
“The landscaped areas are not considered to be development requiring planning permission and the originally approved landscaped areas under the original reference number (84/N/2574) had not been conditioned to be maintained and retained in perpetuity. As such, the local planning authority have limited control over these areas unless development as defined under Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)* is proposed.”
We can easily translate the sentence: “the local planning authority have limited control over these areas” by “Alas, I couldn’t do better than that“; indeed trees and shrubs are not protected and therefore Asda does not requires permission to modify the areas.
Although we welcome the opening of the staircase/ramp access, we regret the lack of communication. As Walmart was looking to sell Asda, it is easy to picture a cost cutting manager in front of a spreadsheet in Leeds office, making decisions to save money on a large scale to improve the attractiveness of the business and ‘sexing up’ the deal.
We couldn’t agree less with our friends from Lavender Hill for Me to regret that Asda, the main employer in Clapham Junction, fails to engage with the area. The store manager was contacted on Asda’s proposal but declined any comment and directed us to central office in Leeds. We contacted Media Relations, who asked us to send questions by email only and never contacted us later. It is particularly a shame as it was a good occasion to work with local amenities to improve those area with a minimum cost.
Unfortunately the poor relationship between Asda and Clapham Junction is not recent. Some of you might remember, 10 years ago, the decision of Leeds’ management to name the store “Asda Clapham” and eventually to choose to run a poll to decide where it was! We strongly advise you to read a post from James Cousin’s blog, which comments are still appropriate nowadays.
* NB: Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) specifies the conditions necessary to require planning application.
Asda sold to TDR Capital
Walmart sold Asda at the beginning of October for £6.8bn to a consortium run by two billionaire brothers from Blackburn, Zuber and Mohsin Issa, and private equity firm TDR Capital.
According to BBC News, Walmart said it expected to report a $2.5bn (£1.9bn) loss for its next financial year, but also that, under the new owners, Asda will invest £1bn in the supermarket over the next three years.