From The Murky Depths

Housing and Development in London

Bexley borough

Bexley Tories approve building on parks despite allowing retail sheds in town centres without housing

Conservative Councillors in Bexley last week approved plans to build homes on parks in parts of the borough. Probably the most famous example is Old Farm park in Sidcup. Bexley is Bonkers has been covering the issue extensively.

One reason the Tories in Bexley are now embarking on housing plans on parks is because they’ve spent a decade resisting building development and infrastructure which would have garnered extra revenue. Couple that to cuts from their colleagues in central Government and they are not in great financial shape.

If they hadn’t been so resistant to new homes would selling parks now be necessary?

What could have been built

There’s MANY examples of sites where Bexley should have pushed for greater housing to increase revenue as other authorities have in London.

German supermarket groups are big offenders here. Yet in their homeland Aldi recently announced they will build 2,000 homes in Berlin alone.

Mixed use scheme with homes above shop planned by Aldi in Germany

Firstly, there’s the Lidl in Bexleyheath. It’s in the town centre (just about) beside Cineworld cinema. As with many Lidl’s the brand new store is simply a box with car park. More creative design would have seen mid-density housing above the store and car park.

Lidl did it again in Welling Town Centre. Another box with car parking. No homes above the site. We have to wonder why Lidl are so poor at utilizing land which they themselves would gain significant income from.

As recently covered, they are trying it again in Bexley borough with an application in Foots Cray.

As an example of how much is received from new housing, plans in Bexleyheath for 500 homes will bring in:

  • £4.2 million to Bexley Council through the Community Infrastructure Levy.
  • An additional £3.1 million will be brought in to the council through the New Homes Bonus. 
  • £790,000 per year in council tax income.

Bexley are losing out on large sums.

The Erith-based site Arthur Pewty has today covered the new that Lidl are planning a store in Erith five minutes walk from Erith station. The same Erith station that is five minutes on a train from Abbey Wood then another 10 to Canary Wharf when Crossrail opens.

It looks like they are going to pull the same trick. 111 car parking spaces and a big box with NO homes.

And plans are also apparently on the drawing board for a site in Belvedere. Once again its a spot of land that’s a short walk to the nearest railway station and on a site that under Bexley’s Growth Strategy plan should see thousands of homes.

Their fellow German supermarket Aldi have also recently done the same in Crayford Town Centre. Same old story.

Recently opened. Town centre site five minutes from Crayford station yet no housing

Other boroughs aren’t so backwards. Southwark blocked Lidl from doing likewise on the Old Kent Road (though their was many retail barns approved in the years before) and Greenwich blocked Lidl doing the same in Abbey Wood near the station.

This is Lidl’s store in Stockwell over in Lambeth borough.

Courtesy Google

Lidl and Aldi do build stores with housing if pushed. As seen in Berlin, there are examples in many places not only in London but across Europe. Yet if Bexley don’t push they don’t get. Bexley have lost millions in income through this approach.

Now they need money and are selling green spaces for housing.

The current Foots Cray application will be a real test for the authority. Will they wave through another big retail shed and car parking with no housing? If so that’s much money lost and more green spaces could be sold.

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  1. Chris Nash

    With the current boom in low-cost grocery shopping (which is causing a huge panic in the larger UK-based supermarket chains), I think Lidl and Aldi are just throwing up bare-bones retail barns as quickly as possible in order to capitalize on their recent growth and success. It’s short-sighted of them not to include housing unless pushed to by the local authority, but from their perspective they can get more supermarkets set up and established much quicker if they only build the bare minimum required on their sites.

  2. anonymous201486

    Good point @Chris Nash

    The Lidl in Lewisham has accommodation over and alongside, but the recently built Aldi store on Bugsby way is just a box. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to live above that store. Alright for food, but everything else is on the wrong side of the road.

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