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Sainsbury’s sale of St Mary’s Place on Eltham High Street: Time to worry?

In recent days Sainsbury’s decision to sell shops beside their Eltham store alongside the St Mary’s building on Eltham High Street have raised much comment and consternation.

AGL are behind the sale process with a price of £2 million being sought.

Escape Rooms now occupy this unit

Many fears were raised when the news came out, but how likely are they to be realised? Worry about comprehensive demolition could well be overblown. Firstly, St Mary’s is a listed building. Not locally listed which affords few protections in law but nationally listed which is a whole different ball game. A developer would need an extremely good reason to demolish and new flats would not pass the test in this spot.

Empty units

The listed price of £2 million is another hint no major changes could be expected, as it’s quite a low price for a town centre plot. Sainsbury’s are also somewhat unlikely to agree a sale which would cut off one main access point to the store from the High Street.

St Marys behind cinema

The advert lists adding floors to existing buildings to match the height of the adjacent cinema. That would be on retail units and not St Mary’s.

That could provide a modest number of new homes. Nothing too outlandish and any design would have to avoid encroaching on the listed building particularly from the High Street. Those who fear tower blocks are almost certainly wide of the mark.

New business

A modest number of new flats and an added floor on buildings may well help existing businesses. Some shops here have struggled in the past and vacant units and high turnover are a long-standing problem. More custom on the doorstep will assist, and add in other local housebuilding planned around the High Street and the sustainability of commercial units improves.

Homes planned to rear of High Street

Just today I covered how the Rusty Bucket pub is looking to expand in Eltham. A new housing block directly opposite has hardly harmed the business.

With town centre’s battered by high rates, rents and online competition a potential lifeline is more people living in proximity to shops. The balance is to integrate those new homes into an existing town without wrecking it. Let’s see what developers come up with on this site. They may well put in something pretty awful, but the listed status of St Mary’s offers hope plans won’t go too far if they do.

 

 

7 Comments

  1. CDT

    I hope whoever buys this site with upgrade St Mary’s Place wiyh new lighting and improvements to exisiting buildings where requred and work with existing businesses and encourage new businesses in to the empty units.

    St Mary’s place along with the Arcade are important to Eltham High Street.

    Personally I do not think a large scale housing development is suitable for this site Possibly extending existing buildings upwards by one or two floors may be acceptable if kept in keeping with the area.

  2. Jack

    The reality is if a company spends £2m on that site – it won’t be to keep what’s there and to follow Sainsbury’s agent’s indicative advice. Yes there is a listed building there in the old Covenant, but you’d see the rest demolished and something else put in there that also gave an access towards sainsburys. You’ll see from the state of the place that it’s poorly used and doesn’t support much in the way of retail etc.

  3. Turn the empty shop units into residential and refurbish the upper level for the same purpose. I think a refurbishment ‘in keeping with’ the existing would sell well to potential homebuyers.

  4. CDT

    I do take your points on board and agree with you both on many of the points raised. However, part of the problem with our Town Centres are business rates are too high and how town centres have been poorly managed for many years which makes it harder for retailers to survive.

    I would have prefered mixed retail/housing developments on this site as these do seem to really work well in other where they have been built.

    Depending on what purchase price any flats built on the site would be put up for sale would depend on whether local people could afford to buy them on local salaries as it is getting harder for people to save for depoists and arrange mortgages.

    I am guessing vey few properties would be for social housing at affordable rents. But may be sold under the part buy part rent scheme.

  5. CDT

    “our town centres” apologises for typo.

  6. Graham

    I have to agree with CDT I think mixed retai/commerical space would work best on this site. With shops, cafes, restaurants gym or possibly a larger supermarket like Aldi on this site.

    With new homes above to match the existing buildings already on the site.

    I also agree the area needs to have better lighting installed and made to look more attractive.

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