Update (18 September): Lidl have made some further changes to the plans, that seem to directly reflect m any of the concerns raised, notably by CJAG – including not chopping down the two street trees that partly camouflage the blank facade on Falcon Lane, extending the greenery, and removing the proposed exterior car parking. While not perfect, its not a bad scheme, and we’ve appreciated the frank and honest engagement from Lidl and their willingness to make changes response to concerns. The planning officer at Wandsworth has now recommended this for approval, and Lidl have sent an associated flyer to nearby residents:
Lidl are proposing to completely redevelop their Clapham Junction supermarket on Falcon Lane. With faint echoes of Sainsburys’ recent supermarket developments at Vauxhall and Fulham Wharf, they plan to create two levels of car parking, underneath an expanded supermarket that would occupy most of the current site.
This is on the very edge of Lavender Hill For Me’s area of interest, but a larger supermarket here may have some knock-on effect on Lavender Hill. The above & below are before-and-after views & artists’ impressions (click for full size); and to their credit Lidl have been open about their plans, with flyers distributed quite widely, a pre-planning website including floorplans, and an opportunity to feed views and thoughts in (as they’re unsurprisingly keen to see support).
So – what do you think? Supermarket plans are always controversial, and as ever it seems there are pros and cons to these plans –
- Clearly an upgrade on what’s there at the moment – the existing supermarket is 20 years old, and aside from a few small extensions to add an additional aisle and more recently a small bakery, has barely been updated and still feels more suited to an out-of-town site than a busy town centre. An active frontage and entrances along Falcon Road will make the supermarket far better integrated with the town centre, and could also add a bit more activity and sense of safety to the railway underpass.
- A larger store built to modern standards, for an established supermarket in the area . Supermarkets can always be a menace for streets with many small traders, but the nature of Lidl’s product range means it doesn’t really provide head-to-head completion with many of the traders on Lavender Hill – a bigger anchor supermarket may even draw trade to Clapham Junction as a whole, in preference to other areas.
- An enlarged two storey underground car park – with 137 car parking spaces and 64 cycle spaces (compared to 61 parking spaces, and no cycle spaces, in the current surface car park). This still pales in comparison to the size of the vast Asda car park, and is unlikely to have a huge effect ion overall traffic levels – but it may allow slightly better accessibility to the town centre as a whole.
- Given that it’s probably only a matter of time until the Asda site is redeveloped, one day an enlarged Lidl could retain a cut-price anchor supermarket in the area during those works.
- While Falcon Road gets a full street frontage, the proposed development doesn’t have a very active elevation to Falcon Lane, as that part of the building is essentially used as the ramp so vehicles can get to the basement car park – although we understand that the store will be accessible from the south east corner via the car park. This makes it look a bit like a service road, which limits potential to develop sites further up the Lane in the future.
- The benefit of the additional car parking is likely to be mainly for Lidl itself. Unlike the neighbouring Asda car park, this car park is not designated as ‘town centre car parking’ – in other words, strictly speaking you need to be a Lidl customer to use it, though you could stay on for longer and visit other shops.
- So far there’s little precious detail on the design and materials, though it’s undeniably modern and may struggle to fit in to the streetscape and surrounding buildings. The images above are about as detailed as it gets at the moment – quality materials can make or break a building, and if there’s a lot of cheap-looking cladding it could really bring down the area.
We are interested to see what group members and Lavender Hill residents think about the proposals – contact us here.
Update – Tuesday May 16th
With thanks for the comments received, it sounds as though the general consensus is that this is a positive development to be cautiously welcomed – but with concerns about a few points including the quality of finish, and in particular the appearance of the wall facing Falcon Lane (plus an unescapable mild irritation that the supermarket is being desribed as ‘Clapham’ rather than ‘Clapham Junction’ or ‘Battersea’!).
Cyril at Clapham Junction Action Group has spoken to Lidl, who were apparently happy to discuss the plans and receptive to concerns and thoughts. Lidl have provided some further information on some of the materials and plans – see the resulting CJAG article here.
The main unresolved section of the design is pictured below – essentially a section that looks a bit too much like like a car park ramp (which, to be fair, it is – but awkwardly it’s by far the most prominent part of the site). The Alucobond cladding panels (a metal/plastic sandwich that will look metallic) and flush windows on the staff offices above the car park ramp also look like something you’d find on a “cheap car dealership on the ring road” rather than a building in a still-mostly-Victorian city centre, and probably won’t age well. This compares poorly to other recent developments like the new Premier Inn at the other end of Lavender Hill (where proper metal cladding and clearly defined windows were used on the side elevations) and could look fairly incongruous.
What could be done? One suggestion that could work well is a green wall on the lower section, which could be accommodated as the pavement is to be widened. This could certainly help provided it’s maintained. The upper section could be redesigned to give a bit more definition and structure to the individual windows, and maybe incorporate a brick outer layer or a cladding material more akin to that on neighbouring buildings.
The right image below shows the view from the junction, with the fitness First building showing how a curved facade can be handled elegantly.
Maybe the curved section could faintly echo its neighbour here. We’re not envisaging a 1920s styling, but examples of successful half way approaches to handling this sort of tricky curved facade are everywhere, and could still work to make this seem a little less like a garage or retail park building and a bit more in keeping with the other buildings along Falcon Road –
There are other approaches too on the ground floor, should a green wall not prove feasible – as it’s also quite possible to build ventilation into an existing window structure, if this is to look more like a standard building – here’s an example from a very classically designed building. Overall – it feels as though there are maybe some design details to be resolved, but that the project as a whole is a positive one.