Lidl are back with another application to open a new store in Erith on Fraser Road.
They previously submitted plans back in early 2018 which were refused by Bexley Council in April 2019. One reason given was retail sheds should only be non-retail but nothing about ensuring mixed-use development.
Differences this time from Lidl include a 20-place reduction in car parking from 111 to 91 and slight alterations to the building.
The company have not included new homes above a new store despite recently claiming they were looking to build 3,000 new homes above new shops in mixed-use developments across the country.
Bexley has high targets for new homes under the new Growth Strategy. If the authority isn’t pushing for homes on brownfield sites (near good public transport links to boot) then greenery will be built on. Just last month we saw new plans to build on greenery in Erith.
That and converting existing family homes into bedsits and Homes of Multiple Occupation.
Protecting a Screwfix, for example, from becoming mixed-use would be bizarre at such a time. Companies like Toolstation are already opening in mixed-use developments. Very few businesses cannot be accommodated within such a model – and those that cannot could be located in areas where housing really isn’t suitable.
It is disruptive to business so adequate compensation is needed – but if we are to see new homes built and greenery protected it needs doing.
What Lidl do elsewhere
I know I always do this when Lidl come along with another big retail shed but let’s look at what they do elsewhere in London and the south east. We don’t have to go far.
Just south in Bromley borough is a Lidl recently built in West Wickham with new homes above a new store. Customer and residential parking is located below homes; a far more efficient use of land.
And here’s one planned over in Richmond:
With this model Lidl have the same retail space, the same number of parking spaces yet homes are provided. This model also permits expansion on some sites with land retained to the rear.
In Bexley borough they’ve often been building wasteful retail sheds – often in town centres such as Welling and Bexleyheath to name but two – while the authority frets about housing and sees plans in for building on greenery as it does not push nor have sufficient strategies in place to encourage mixed-use development. It makes no sense. In Belvedere they have opened a store below housing. That’s the way forward.