The forthcoming months should see some changes with the Lidl store in Clapham Junction. In June 2022 a plan (planning application 2022/0497) was approved to refurbish the store with a one-floor addition at the back and a small extension to follow the boundary along Falcon Lane.
Recently, another application (p.a. 2023/0403 – not yet decided at the time of publishing) was submitted in order to provide more details of materials, ecological enhancements, biodiverse roof, photovoltaic panels… etc, following last year’s permission.
There is no dramatic change to the existing store and all the refurbishment will be carried out on the margin of the existing premises. The most visible one will be an extension aligning the frontage of the store with Falcon Lane. There will be also a first floor extension along the back of the store (railway line) with a green roof. The remaining of the roof will be refurbished and covered with solar panels.
They will also extend the loading bay at the back of the store.
The proposed extensions should create 50% internal floorspace, mainly used as a warehouse and back of house rooms. Relocating the staff back office section on the first floor will allow some extension of the retail area (an additional 172 sq.m).
The car park will be also resurfaced and the number of car parks slightly reduced from 61 to 57 (both numbers including 3 disabled). Within the 57 car spaces, they will install 2 active (fast charging) and 8 passive electric vehicle charging points. They will also have 42 cycle spaces (only 8 currently), with 30 of them along the Falcon Lane frontage.
Lidl has sought extensions and redevelopment in several instances in recent years.
Since its erection in 1995, Lidl has submitted several proposals to modify the store. In 2006 (p.a. 2006/3463), they made some extensions to the original building and alterations to the car park. In 2012, they extended the store to include a small bakery section (p.a. 2012/3044).
In 2017 they submitted an ambitious plan for a full redevelopment of the premises (p.a. 2017/2972), which should have included a much bigger store with the car park underneath, and access from Falcon Road with active frontage.
In further amendments to the 2017 application, Lidl included also a green roof to mitigate the view from adjacent properties. Unfortunately, although planning permission was granted, Lidl abandoned the project. Some of the reasons leading to the decision to ditch the proposal were the cost of the full redevelopment, uncertainty regarding the possibility to dig underneath the site for the car park with contaminated soil, and, most importantly, the turnover loss due to the absence of an alternative site to continue trading during the construction work.
According to what they told us, Lidl Clapham Junction is one of the most popular and one of the best-performing stores in the UK, and they even consider it one of their flagship stores. They were desperately trying to find a temporary alternative site to continue trading while redeveloping the main store. Unfortunately, they failed to find any adequate premises locally (which highlight some demand for large retail area locally, especially in light with the loss of the two Homebase, B&Q, and Debenhams).
In 2021 they submitted a new application (p.a. 2021/0859), very similar to the previous one. It also included the car park reconfiguration and a small additional storey.
Some differences with the 2021 proposal: Green roof back, more electric bays
The new 2022 proposal for the Lidl supermarket in Clapham Junction has some differences compared to the 2021 proposal. The green roof, which was removed from the 2021 plan as it was deemed too expensive (the 2017 version of the green roof cost about £1m) and difficult to maintain, has been reintroduced from the 2017 proposal.
The Clapham Junction Action Group (CJAG) contacted Lidl in 2021 and discussed Electric Car (EV) Charging Points. The London plan recommends at least 10% of active and passive bays for charging electric vehicles, which means Lidl would need to provide at least 6 active and 6 passive bays in their scheme, but Lidl’s study indicated that 2 EV bays for each store were enough across their portfolio.
At the time, their project manager explained that their study has indicated that 2 EV for each store was enough across their portfolio (~850 stores in the UK), providing Rapid Charge bays (a rapid charging bay allows faster and more efficient charging of electric vehicles, usually in 20-30 minutes) which is much more effective than the average 6 hours (customers can only use the car park for 90 minutes anyway).
However, they were looking at the possibility of providing more passive bays in view of the ULEZ expansion and the trend towards electric vehicles. The new plan keeps the 2 active (fast charging) EV bays and adds an additional 8 passive points.
There has been no change regarding the location of the bike stands, which CJAG and Wandsworth Living Street suggested should be placed in front of the west façade, inside the car park. In its report, Wandsworth’s planning officer also noted:
“The thirty short-stay cycle parking spaces […] would lead to some visual clutter of the street when in use, although their position would also make them obvious and efficient for cyclists.”
Lidl is proposing to redecorate the existing railings along Falcon Road and Falcon Lane, but local community groups are insisting on the need to improve the area surrounding the car park.
They suggested improving the wall and surrounding vegetation, maybe re-using some of the 2017 proposal for greenery. They also previously suggested agreeing with the Council for a large new tree as shown in green in the picture below, with vegetation at the base.
The absence of that mention in the set of conditions when the proposal was approved last year is considered as a missed opportunity.
Wandsworth officers would like to see a much taller and dense development
There is no secret that Wandsworth Planning department has encouraged tall and dense developments wherever possible for years.
The architect for the Travelodge hotel in Falcon Road told us that during discussions in 2009, they were asked by the department to submit a 16-storey tower. It was later reduced to 8 storeys as originally intended by the developers. More recently, in York Road, pre-application discussions revealed that officers were not against increasing the size of a 22 storey proposal to 31 storeys, as long as it does not exceed the size proposed for tower they envisaged for York Garden.
In last year’s report to the Planning Committee, the officer wrote:
“[This site] would not deliver the area’s aspirations in regard to a high density mixed-use development […] Policy IS1 seeks to ensure that previously developed land and vacant and under-used buildings are maximised […] the proposal falls short of complying fully with this particular part of policy IS1.”
However, the officer acknowledged that the proposal is an extension and therefore an intensification of the existing commercial use, and therefore complies with the town centre aspirations.
It is worth mentioning that in 2017, Labour Cllr Belton, who has been the chair of the planning committee since May 2022, commented that he was a bit disappointed as the developers could have had a more ambitious project, and that was not completely satisfactory in his view.
However, due to the very close proximity of the rail tracks, this site (along with the adjacent Boots and Asda) is very sensitive to any future project, including the potential extension and redevelopment of Clapham Junction station, including impacts of Crossrail2, which is limiting its immediate possibilities.
If the project goes ahead, it will certainly see the site stay with a one storey construction at least for a decade (or maybe more knowing that it has already been as such for the last 30 years) and will prevent the sort of redevelopment that can be seen currently along York Road and Wandsworth Roundabout.
NB: You might be interested by a similar article on the community website Lavender Hill for Me, with also information about wild life and nature conservation in the area, and potential redevelopment for other sites.