Author: Cyril Richert
The property owner of Arding and Hobbs has submitted a proposal for a new 22 storeys hotel tower on top of the iconic building.
According to the developers:
” The proposal represents a unique opportunity to make more efficient use of land surrounding the station for commercial development, including new offices and retail. The new stylish landmark development will deliver major benefits to the community.”
On the Council’s portal the scheme is presented as:
“Redevelopment of the site to provide a mixed use development in buildings ranging in height between 7 and 22 storeys plus basement, to provide a 289 -bedroom hotel with 1158 sq.m. of retail use (class A1), 64 sq.m. of cafe/restaurant use (class A3), 1519 sq.m. of office use (class B1), and 146 sq.m. of community floorspace (class D1) ”
As the building is Grade II listed, which means that making anything other than minor changes to the exterior is not allowed, the proposal is to keep the iconic façade but build the hotel structure on top and fully redevelop inside the old building.
It confirms our article published last October of the closure of Debenhams in the coming months as the new owner of the building wants them out so they can redevelop the building. It all goes back to Debenhams’ CVA process (a sort of ‘voluntary bankruptcy’) last year where Debenhams asked landlords at 105 stores all over the country (including the Arding & Hobbs building) for rent cuts so they could afford to keep trading. In exchange they were given a consolation prize of being able to end the leases early if they found a better deal.
Most landlords just accepted this, but in Clapham Junction’s case, W Real Estate, a US company which just bought the plot from British Land, found it was a great opportunity to make a quick profit by selling it for redevelopment.
Arding & Hobbs has been around since 1885 and took part in the massive increase of population in the area at the end of the 19th century. It was subsequently owned by Allders before Debenhams took it over. This will mark the end of one of London’s most famous department stores, and a true icon of Clapham Junction. It is going to have major implications for neighbouring traders.
“Clapham Junction is a location for taller building” says the Council
The decision to proceed with the hotel scheme was specifically driven by the Council’s recommendation in its Local Plan that Clapham Junction was a suitable location for regeneration through the construction of tall buildings (Core Strategy part. 4.13).
A Council spokesperson said:
“Wandsworth’s planning policies have long identified Clapham Junction as a location for taller building. The difficult task is to balance competing interests for the benefit of the whole community – to improve the borough’s built environment and to provide new economic benefits. Clapham Junction should remain a vibrant town centre and this proposal represents a great opportunity in our ambitious plans to shape the area.“
It follows the vision presented earlier this year by the Leader of Wandsworth Council Cllr Ravi Govindia, who said:
“We want to build new homes and an exciting future for all who live in them.”
It includes the full redevelopment of Winstanley and York estate with a number of skyscrapers up to 32 storeys.
See our article here: New PR exercise on Winstanley & York redevelopment (with less green space).
Part of the Council’s vision is already partly achieved with the transformation of York Road, which was nominated a “focal point area” (i.e. welcoming tall buildings) in the last Local plan review in 2015.
As usual, we encourage you to contact your councillors to discuss the Council’s vision for your area.