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Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 16 July 2017 at 15:33:38

Lidl 141 Falcon Lane SW11 2LG : 2017/297

Our objection to this application starts from the considerations set out in the Local Plan Site-Specific Allocations Document adopted early last year. In relation to the Lidl, Boots and Asda sites in Falcon Lane, this draws attention to the low density retail units with adjoining car parking, and to the scope for intensification of all three retail sites. It also calls for mixed-use development providing ‘significant additional housing in this highly accessible location’.

The document also recommends that

  • the ‘ground floor [should] remain the focus for shopping activity’

  • ‘the enclosure ratio between the width of a new street [a realignment of Falcon Lane] and buildings should be similar to St John’s Road/Lavender Hill’; and

  • ‘Street frontages should respect the prevailing four storey height of the town centre in line with DMPD Policy DMTS3’.

We are disappointed that while the proposal from Lidl has some desirable features, especially in removing the unsightly retaining wall in Falcon Road, it does not adequately address any of the considerations set out in the Plan adopted by the Council so recently; and that it has a number of other undesirable features.

First, the proposal involves only very slight intensification of the site: it provides for a store of 3,279 square metres (less than half of which will be retail space) on a site of 0.45 hectares. The increase in retail space is less than 500 square metres, or just over 40% as compared to the current store. By no stretch of imagination can this be described as other than a modest increase on the existing low density. The major element in any small degree of intensification is to provide more parking space.

Second, the proposal makes no attempt to address the recommendation for mixed-use development providing significant additional housing. This puts at risk the Council’s strategy (adopted also in 2016) for the provision of new housing in the borough, which includes specific targets for Clapham Junction and adjoining areas.  This is especially disappointing given that Lidl have shown in other locations such as Stockwell that they can provide well-designed mixed-use developments with housing. 

Third, the proposal does not provide a focus for shopping on the ground floor, but rather a retail area two floors up, to be accessed by escalators through the main entrance on Falcon Road; and such access is likely to prove difficult for those with disabilities. 

Fourth, the enclosure ratio and street frontages remain wholly at odds with those in St John’s Road, St John’s Hill, Lavender Hill and indeed the rest of Falcon Road. The frontage to both Falcon Road and Falcon Lane will be totally out of sympathy and scale with the rest of the area. What is presented as a three storey building is in fact for the most part a two-storey one, with basement and ground floor parking and an ugly façade.

Fifth, we find it extraordinary that one of the core elements in the proposal is to increase car-parking for a store on a site that enjoys one of the highest public transport accessibility levels in London, and which is within a few yards of the very large car park on the Asda site which allows two hours free parking. The case for an increase of 130% in parking spaces is indefensible, when the retail space is increased by only 40%.  The evidence to support the claim in the transport assessment that the proposal seeks simply to ensure that ‘vehicle parking is at an appropriate level to serve the needs of the development’ is extremely weak. In short, the proposal is incompatible with the Council’s strategy to promote cycling, walking and public transport in preference to private car use; and it risks adding to the already-high levels of congestion around Clapham Junction and use of the rat-runs in streets such as Lavender Sweep and Eccles Road. It will also add to the current high levels of air pollution in the area which, as is acknowledged in the application, are already in excess of the Government’s Air Quality Objectives; and the basis on which it is claimed that the effect will be negligible is far from clear.

Sixth, we have strong reservations about the proposed use of materials in the ugly and unrelenting façade facing Falcon Lane; and in the feasibility, maintenance and sustainability of the suggested green wall (which is itself incompatible with the Council’s strategy that the contextual grain of what is a retail area should be sustained).

Seventh, we regret the proposed loss of trees, and the very modest proposals relating to the public realm, which would in many respects be worsened for the reasons set out above. The rationale for the proposed extremely-varied and intensive shrub planting along Falcon Lane is far from clear; many of the proposed shrubs are large and fast-growing, and will demand intensive management (such as has been all-too-obviously lacking in the existing planted site alongside the Boots store in Falcon Lane).

For all these reasons, we regard the proposals as fundamentally flawed and unacceptable in their present form. The Council has acknowledged in its current plans that highly-regrettable mistakes were made when the current buildings on the Falcon Lane site were approved in the 1980s; and local residents have been suffering from them for more than three decades. If the current plans were to be accepted, they would repeat those mistakes, and represent a lost opportunity that we would suffer from for many decades to come.


You can see full details of this application and other comments, or to make your own views known by copying 2017/297 and pasting it into the box you will find here