Sainsbury’s Greenwich food store will move 400 metres to a new plot within the Charlton retail parks if plans are approved. This Sainsbury’s, its flagship store, was opened in September 1999 by Jamie Oliver.
Chief executive Dino Adriano proudly announced at the time of its opening: “This store represents a watershed in supermarket architecture. We will learn from the energy saving features of this remarkable store and consider where we can use them again.”
A host of energy saving features were incorporated into its design such as solar panels, wind turbines, large windows for natural light, insulating earth banks and electric car charging points. Ironically one of its greatest technological advances is believed to be its downfall. A large underfloor radiator heats the store using waste heat from its own refrigerators. But this technology is said to have caused problems with flooding and has led to the store being closed on numerous occasions.
The land where the Sainsbury’s is currently located is now owned by retail developers LXB Properties. As well as owning the land for the proposed new site they are also behind the building of the new Travelodge which is due to be completed next year.
The plot of land earmarked for Sainsbury’s (see picture below) is where Wickes and Dreams are currently situated. The former will be relocated at the old Lidl site and the latter will move further along the road into the Stone Lake Retail Park.
The new Sainsbury’s will be three times the size of the current store and will also be the centre of its online operations in the area, providing a base for home deliveries. It’s hoped the increased size will allow the store to develop and sell more of its non-food items. Planning approval is due to be sought from Greenwich Council later this year with an opening date pencilled in for 2013.
“We believe this is a great opportunity to improve the Sainsbury’s offer to our customers in Greenwich and look forward to working with LXB to deliver what will be another flagship environmental store for us.”
Other plans include a creche for parents to use while shopping as well as a bus countdown screen at the store’s checkouts.
This announcement may leave some regular shoppers astonished at the move. However, the flooding at the current store and the increased footfall over at Charlton’s retail parks must be the two key reasons for the relocation.
Despite this there are numerous interesting questions this issue raises. What will the new Tesco in Woolwich make of this development? How will traffic alter in Bugsby’s Way and Woolwich Road over the coming years? How will public transport develop, with Charlton station now close to yet another large amenity? Will Sainsburys learn from the mistakes they have made with the peninsula site? What will happen with the plot of land south of this site linking it to Woolwich Road? What will happen to the small ecology park to the rear of its current site? What retailer would want to move into the empty peninsula building and how will they deal with the store’s capacity to flood?
No doubt all these issues will need to be addressed but one certainty is this development, if given planning permission, will have to take centre stage with the council’s long term plans for Charlton riverside.