Lidl has submitted a planning application for its proposed new store in the Charlton retail parks – giving residents the opportunity to have their say on the plans.
The store plans to move into the former H&M unit in “Greenwich” Shopping Park, as well as taking over the adjacent River Island store, which is due to close in September.
Lidl’s plans to move in across the road from its rival Aldi will further add to concerns about traffic in the area – with the Greenwich Shopping Park already regularly jammed up at weekends, and the potential for heavy traffic spreading further with the opening of east Greenwich’s Ikea store last week. There are no plans to change traffic access into the park, which frequently becomes a bottleneck.
The traffic assessment submitted by the retail park’s owner skirts around the potential for gridlock, with a traffic survey looking at only a Friday and Saturday in early November, without including the heavily-congested Sundays. It claims there were 90 free spaces in the 391-space car park at the busiest hour on the Saturday.
Basing its assessment on a 2011 survey carried out in a retail park in Cardiff with an M&S food store, it claims 10% of the Lidl store’s trade will be new traffic to the area, but another 30% will be tempted in from Bugsby’s Way or other local roads. It also cites a 1998 planning appeal by Tesco for a store in Exeter to support its point.
Ikea is not mentioned in the transport assessment.
Whether the council’s Charlton Riverside Masterplan, which covers the area, will give planners any teeth in dealing with the store’s application is not clear. While most of the retail in the area is relatively recent – the Greenwich Shopping Park was given permission in 2000, others were approved in 2013 and 2014 – the council now says “the existing retail does not conform with [council] policy”. This application could be a test of how the masterplan, adopted in 2017, relates to the current retail parks.
Charlton means sport, after all. From Charlton Athletic to the muddy pitches of Charlton Park, Charlton Lido to the skate park and cricket hub, Hornfair Park’s BMX hub to Charlton Park rugby club, there are few names in south London with a bigger sporting tradition.
And loads of people who will buy football, swimming, skating, biking, rugby and cricket gear because they identify with Charlton. Think of the marketing opportunities for Decathlon.
Greenwich, meanwhile, means the same old tourist stuff. Outside SE10, it’s an empty boast.
All 10 councillors on the board supported the scheme, which its promoters say will create 200 jobs, including 100 full-time positions.
The site, opposite Victoria Way, was kept empty for some years awaiting the scrapped Greenwich Waterfront Transit fast bus scheme. A Travelodge was due to be built on the site in time for the Olympic Games, and gained planning permission, but that proposal also fell through.
Concerns raised by councillors included traffic, maintenance of the public square and the fate of a willow tree at the centre of the site.
“If we had Monty Don here, we’d be able to find a solution to this,” council leader Denise Hyland said as she lamented plans to knock down the tree, which she said “brings joy as you drive or walk past”.
Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Norman Adams said traffic in the area was “chaos” on Saturday and Sunday mornings, although the hearing was told the development would only bring 43 extra “vehicle movements” to the area during peak Saturday shopping hours.
Local resident Simon Hall said he was pleased developers had taken on board criticism of the plans, planting trees so he and his neighbours didn’t have to “face a dull brick wall”.
He called on Greenwich planners to make sure the development wasn’t as close to the pavement as the new Sainsbury’s/M&S scheme is, adding that developers’ money should be used to improve the “disgusting” street scene on the south side of the Woolwich Road and to turn the zebra crossing at the site into a pelican crossing.
Developers also plan to put lighting down the side of the Frankie & Benny’s unit to illuminate the existing pathway to Asda. The pathway’s owner, Ramac Group Ltd, did not respond to requests to co-operate with the planning application.
One sticking point was whether developers should contribute to a possible new bus route in the area – so far TfL has declined to extend the 202 service from Blackheath to serve Sainsbury’s/M&S, despite the developer offering money.
Regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe said that “even though you sometimes can’t get on a 472”, he would prefer to see money go into improving the surrounding area. But Denise Hyland added: “I don’t want to see Transport for London refuse to introduce a bus because there’s no Section 106 [money for it].” In the end, it was decided to leave the issue to officers.
Questions over the state of the public space – to be centred around a red oak tree – included whether it would end up being colonised by skateboarders. Which led to one Charlton Champion follower on Twitter to suggest a solution that could help the Charlton Park scheme…
@CharltonCSE7@ahisbani or how about getting developers to fund a skate park? Rather than just designing out problem for some1 else to deal
Details to be ironed out with the council before work goes ahead include sorting out a “travel plan” and finalising just where developers’ money should go.
The Matalan planned for the site would replace the one in Greenwich’s Millennium Retail Park – slated for demolition as part of the controversial Ikea development – which itself replaced its earlier site on Bugsby’s Way.
Local resident Simon Hall has been writing to his neighbours to alert them to it. Here’s what he says…
I am concerned by some aspects of the planning application, particularly given that it was not clear from the Marks & Spencer application how high or how close to the road that store is now going to be! I am worried that we were going to have a similar height of development along the whole residential area of the road. As a result of my concerns I managed to secure, along with one of our local Councillors, a meeting with the developer of the site.
I am keen that you should also know the information I have been given so that you can, should you choose to, respond to the Council’s request for views. If the Council receive enough responses they will be able to discuss the application in public, and can either reject the application or impose conditions on the developer.
Key points of application
The application proposes the extension of the current “Greenwich Shopping Park” strip of shops down to Woolwich Road, with the largest of those units likely to be the new location of Matalan (when it moves from its temporary site next to the current Sainsbury’s to enable that site plus the current Sainsbury’s to become an Ikea if that passes the next stages of planning). There will then be a coffee shop by a new public square (probably a Starbucks), replacing the large willow tree with a “feature tree” and what could be an attractive artistic seating feature where coffee could be enjoyed outside.
The developer has suggested that this would be a nice small public space, and will provide a pedestrian entrance to their new development (car traffic for the development will be from Bugsby’s Way – as now, by Asda, not from our road). There is a further shop unit in this eastern part of the development, and they are talking to a cycle shop chain.
Between the other side of the public space and the current unsightly Asda pathway there is to be a Frankie & Benny’s restaurant. Probably not a bad addition to the local area.
As the Frankie & Benny’s is likely to be directly opposite to residential housing, I have spent some time assessing this aspect of the development. My key concern is that the facility will be positioned with its “front entrance” facing the public area/Starbucks, a glazed area facing the car park/Bugsby’s Way, and a very dull brick wall with some small shrubbery underneath facing the houses opposite. It should only be two storeys or so, but it is still a brick wall!
I think we should demand better, and would urge you to do so.
Sadly the developer has not included any improvements to the Asda path, which I am sure you will agree is an eyesore, in the application. This small strip of land is owned by the Ramac Company (that own the land around Ramac Way, and have stated that they have no plans to improve or redevelop their unsightly area of industrial/retail units). The former Travelodge application did have plans to resurface this path and provide lighting, and Ramac had agreed that that developer (who was the one currently building M&S) could do this.
The new developer is a different one, and is working for the company that owns the Greenwich Shopping Park and now own this land. I strongly urge you to suggest that the Council take action relating to the Asda path to ensure it is either incorporated properly into the development, it is improved, has better lighting, or some other solution you could suggest to them.
This may be the only chance for the next 20 years or so we get to make that area better, so please do include this in a response to the Council.
Other issues to be considered
Traffic: whilst it is unlikely that traffic on our road will increase considerably, you may wish to remind the Council that they have agreed to work with Transport for London to downgrade the status of our road to a quieter residential street, still wilth buses, and direct through traffic along Bugsby’s Way (a dual carriageway).
It is always worth reminding the Council that they should remember this commitment.
Pedestrian crossing: as part of the Sainsbury’s/M&S development those of us that responded to the Council then managed to secure improvements to the zebra crossing located at the end of Victoria Way by Phipps House (new central island and Belisha Beacons). However, you may share my view that this crossing will remain dangerous until it is a proper lighted crossing – known as a pelican crossing, or indeed (as I have suggested to the Council in the past), as part of a new traffic light controlled junction at Victoria Way. Feel free to include this in your response if you agree, as this can be paid for by the developer as part of the development.
Public realm: when putting in new developments there is something that was called Section 106 and is now known as CILL (I have forgotten what that stands for). Essentially want this means is that developers are required to provide a certain amount of money – directly or indirectly – to benefit the local community. The Council are in charge of administering this. If we do not request for this to be spent locally, on our area, then this will be used for other parts of the borough. I am sure, like me, you’d like to see some money spent to make our local area look better – and look better for years to come. We can demand this in our response to the planning application.
Things we could ask for include improving pavements; improving the drainage and sewers; adding in trees/public benches; better street lighting; or any ideas you may think of – even additional investment in local schools.
How to respond – reminder
I care passionately about our local environment, and I simply couldn’t sit back and see us have something “done to us” without us being able to influence and improve what is being planned. I hope you agree that it is worth making a response.
The tone of my response is likely to be “yes I agree with this application, but only with conditions” and then outline some of the things I have suggested above.
One way to respond is via the internet – the planning portal is not working well, and I have had problems accessing it so you may wish to use another method.
I have asked for the deadline to be extended – it is currently 21 October (Tuesday). Given the fact that the planning portal has been down, I am sure they will extend this.
However, please do try to send a response as soon as possible.
You can email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org – but be sure to include the reference number of this planning application in the title of your email (14/2550/F).