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