Woolwich Lidl to expand into former Better gym space and reduce parking

Lidl have submitted an application to expand the size of their Woolwich store.

The move would see a 150-space car park reduce in size and Greenwich Leisure Limited – who trade as Better – permanently leaving the site.

They closed in August 2020 and stated it was final though rumours had persisted it may reopen. It apparently will not.

The existing Lidl lacks features commonly seen in other stores. The application states:

“The Lidl branch has been trading for approximately 20 years and is a very popular Lidl foodstore.

Permanently closed

However, the store is dated and is in need of modernisation and reconfiguration.

As one of the smallest stores in Lidl’s portfolio, the retail unit is physically constrained and is unable to offer Lidl’s full product range.

Staff welfare areas are limited in scale, and, unlike most Lidl stores, the Woolwich branch has no in-store bakery, nor does it have a chiller unit for the refrigeration of perishable goods in storage.”

It then continues:

Rear of the site

“Lidl is therefore planning to extend its foodstore into part of the Better Gym unit and to upgrade the basement level car park and building elevations.

Extending into part of the adjoining unit will alleviate the store’s operational problems and will allow Lidl to provide its full product range, including an in-store bakery and a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) facility.

The residual part of the Better Gym unit will be converted into a speculative commercial unit, to be used for Class E purposes.

Gyms and membership

This retrenchment by Greenwich Leisure Limited may be forced but the group have struggled in recent years with declining membership at a number of sites.

Energie Fitness on Hare Street in Woolwich

They had blamed that on low-cost gyms. The Better site was similar to those low cost gyms.

Greenwich council are looking to build a new leisure centre (see this post yesterday) and close the Waterfront, but that is some years away.

Lidl do not require permission to extend their food store and remove Better using recently introduced Permitted Rights and the introduction of Class E usage on site, as the plan states:

“Planning permission is not therefore required to extend the Lidl foodstore into part of the Better Gym unit, nor is it required to use its residual floor area to form a new Class E unit”.

While change of store use doesn’t require permission, change of parking does.

Lidl have decided a bigger store and accessibility is better for businesses than existing car parking spaces, which make sense given the thousands of new homes in Woolwich within walking distance. Many are car-free and people will always use a local foodshop.

14 car parking spaces will be removed, two travellators installed alongside 44 cycle parking spaces.

The plan also includes the ability for glass bottles to be collected:

“In accordance with incoming legislation set out within the Environment Bill, the DRS facility will allow Lidl to accept returns of empty drink receptables such as plastic / glass bottles and steel / aluminium cans for recycling”.

Future of site

In some ways it’s surprising this large single storey shop – which was formerly a Safeway – has survived this long despite only being built in the 1980s.

Proximity to Crossrail and other excellent public transport links in a prime town centre site mean any large mixed-use development is likely to be permitted.

How long that will be remains to be seen.

Click here to view the planning application.

 

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

8 thoughts on “Woolwich Lidl to expand into former Better gym space and reduce parking

  • October 9, 2021 at 10:40 am
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    The Woolwich Lidl store is popular with shoppers so this will be good news if the planned extension gets the necessary planning permission granted and the store is extended to provide more space and choice of products.

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  • October 9, 2021 at 3:53 pm
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    ‘In some ways it’s surprising this large single storey shop – which was formerly a Safeway – has survived this long …’.

    Not really as price is the driver for Lidl’s popularity and its current range of products gel with the demographic. Reducing the number of car parking spaces (even 14) is a mistake as the expanded range of products will bring more people in-store, especially the monied who can afford the luxury items.

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    • October 10, 2021 at 9:37 am
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      Not in terms of store viability but value of land near Crossrail.

      Reply
  • October 10, 2021 at 1:25 am
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    Actually you are right anoymous 201481 if i remember rightly the parking at Lidl and Gym is underground parking. So why the need to reduce the number of parking spaces in the first place.

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  • October 10, 2021 at 7:40 am
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    It’s funny…” Reducing the number of car parking spaces (even 14) is a mistake as the expanded range of products will bring more people in-store, especially the monied who can afford the luxury items.”…. How about an alternative view that more space means the ability to add more items which may cost less or have a lower margin? Or more likely a combination of the 2.

    Also, how utilised is the car park at the moment?

    Perhaps a wider choice to increase overall trade is good trade off for those who actually don’t have a car.

    Reply
  • October 10, 2021 at 7:15 pm
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    @Mark1V1 Totally agree with you. Everyone needs to buy food etc. So the more choice available the better.

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  • October 11, 2021 at 12:12 pm
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    @Mark1v1 and @Graham: the wider range will have more expensive products that some will not be able to afford. However, the better off will make a beeline to the store and they will be drivers.

    Reply

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