Revealed: The proposed future of Arding & Hobbs (Debenhams)

Authors: Cyril Richert & David Curran

As we confirmed some time ago – Debenhams at Clapham Junction will never reopen. It’s a great shame to lose it, and our sympathy is with our many readers who used to work there. But it raises a very immediate question of what happens next with our local landmark.

The owner of the building is W.RE (W. Real Estate limited). They bought the building a few years ago, expecting that Debenhams would probably depart at some stage. Everything accelerated as Debenhams started to run into financial difficulties last year and asked for rent cuts so they could afford to keep trading. W.RE refused and Debenhams confirmed to us in an email in October 2019 that “the store will remain trading until – at least – 23 June 2020“, although no exit date was set yet. Unfortunately came the Covid19 crisis and the department stores decided comprehensively not to reopen for even a few months (see our previous article for more details).

In the meantime it appears that the new owner was carrying extensive research on future developments, working with architects and consultants on multiple options. As W.RE develop plans for the building’s future they have run a series of public webinars, where they have been commendably frank about their plans for the building. They have also been happy to have detailed discussions with CJAG.

The previous building, in 1890

This is a very important moment for Clapham Junction – it’s our landmark building, and as the largest unit apart from Asda it’s also a flagship part of the trade of the town centre – even in Debenhams’ most troubled stage, having a major store that sold a lot of things here was important in attracting shoppers to the town centre as a whole, and a lot of the smaller and independent businesses nearby benefitted from this.T K Maxx and Boots are understandably popular, but every local town centre has one – but only Clapham Junction had a department store!

If W.RE get this right, Clapham Junction will benefit…  but get it wrong and the problems will be widely felt for many years!  Which is why we’ve been reassured by the frank and open way the developers have engaged so far. They are clearly very conscious of the importance of the building they have bought, and we welcome their commitment to take an approach that makes the most of its potential. In the rest of this article we explore the emerging proposals in some detail, picking out some aspects we know have been especially welcomed, as well as areas where we have concerns.

Continue reading

Parma Crescent: controversial development amended

Lavender Hill for Me,  a community website working to support Lavender Hill in Battersea, has reported on a proposal to replace an unusually small house which had an unusually large garden on Parma Crescent with a rather larger building housing five flats. The description of the planning application 2020/0906 is:

Demolition of existing building and erection of part two-storey, part three-storey building to provide 5 flats (1x 1 bedroom flat 3 x 2 bedroom flats and 1x 3 bedroom flat) with associated cycle and bin stores.

It proved to be quite a controversial proposal, attracting 44 objections, and not much in the way of supportive comment. As spotted by Lavender Hill for Me, the plans were changed part way through the process – with the side of the building closest to Lavender Hill chopped back somewhat, an the height of the roof reduced slightly as well.

See more detailed on the proposal directly on Lavender Hill for Me’s article and feel free to comment. As usual we will keep you posted on any amendments in the future.

Is Peabody’s work damaging properties in Comyn road?

Author: Cyril Richert

Peabody’s construction site – Comyn Road

At the start of it there were a lot of mini earthquakes. Now it seems like there are tiles shifting and cracks appearing“. Hence started the email from one of the local resident in Comyn Road. Another one said “I am fed up with my house shaking whilst I am trying to work“. Continue reading

Debenhams has gone in Clapham Junction. What next?

Author: Cyril Richert & David Curran

Debenhams in Clapham Junction – all board up and closed in June 2020

As many (most?) of you will have noticed, Debenhams is now fully disappearing from Clapham Junction. The lockdown period was surely the last nail on the coffin for the Arding & Hobbs occupancy, and the boards that are now surrounding the ground floor are announcing that the building is “looking ahead to the next chapter of its history” as the owners have put in the leaflet they distributed in the area (download the leaflet here).

The new owner of the building wanted Debenhams out for redevelopment

As we reported last OctoberW Real Estate, the new owner of the building (bought for circa £48 million), wanted them out so they can redevelop some or all of the property. Continue reading

Consult, then ignore. Make policy, then ignore = the full process of planning decisions in Wandsworth!

Author: Cyril Richert

32 and 20 storeys where the Council think it would make a positive contribution to the area and that would not harm the townscape. The area is currently mainly built with 2 to 8-storey blocks.

In 2015 Wandsworth Council distributed a Planning News leaflet called “Battersea Riverside Consultation” asking for opinions on their planning framework to guide the development of the Lombard Road/York area. Although the final policy ignored the consultation comments, the latest proposals for the area show that the full procedure (including drafting the policy itself!)  was just a waste of time and money and – as usual with Wandsworth planning policy – is meant to be ignored. Continue reading

Debenhams to file for administration

Arding & Hobbs by Edwardx, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence

Arding & Hobbs by Edwardx, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence

Last week we read that Debenhams was filing for administration after the coronavirus lockdown forced it to shut its shops across the UK.

According to Debenhams boss Stefaan Vansteenkiste, the move aims at protecting the business in the current uncertainty but wish to resume trading when government restrictions are lifted. Continue reading

Coronavirus – You must stay at home: how to manage in Clapham Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

Image taken from GoogleMap, because we all need to STAY AT HOME!

Eventually, Boris Johnson told us yesterday: “You must stay at home“. 

From Monday evening 23 March 2020, people can only leave home for one of the four following reasons:

  1. Shopping for groceries or essentials
  2. Any medical need
  3. One form of exercise per day
  4. Travelling to and from work, if it’s absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home

In a ministerial broadcast from Downing Street the Prime Minister said citizens would face fines (the punishment in England for not complying would be a fixed penalty notice initially set at £30) if they fail to comply with the government’s new instructions. Continue reading

New PR exercise on Winstanley & York redevelopment (with less green space)

Author: Cyril Richert

This time the plan from Wandsworth Council to force as many skyscrapers as possible in the Winstanley-York estates area is not hidden under some regeneration scheme illustrated by rows of maisonettes. The Council has published a press release last week illustrated by one of the “impression” of their vision for the future of the area, although it was publicly revealed in February last year in the Evening Standard (see photos here).

Objections ignored by the Council

According to the website (we have confirmation since last Planning forum and the Alton estate case that the Press Release can be totally inaccurate), “the Winstanley and York Road plans were developed following extensive consultation with local people“. Of course you can always organise as many consultation as you want if you choose to ignore their result when it contradicts your plans (the Ganley Court residents know a lot about it!). This was confirmed by the leader of Wandsworth Council Cllr Ravi Govindia who said a few years ago that hundreds of objections were neglectable in comparison to the borough’s population (read our article: “Deceitful Wandsworth Council used to misrepresent consultations“). Continue reading

Peabody: at last they are building again!

Author: Cyril Richert

Peabody 20200123

Work continues to prepare the site for piling machines and to provide an entrance/exit at the top of Eckstein Road for emergency vehicles.

This time, it’s for real: Peabody has started again their construction in St John’s Hill, Clapham Junction, after nearly 3 years in limbo, and 8 years after the scheme was approved by Wandsworth Council, against local community.

The redevelopment was originally approved in July 2012 after a large campaign to oppose the proposal and local newspapers naming the plan “controversial”. Phase 1 was achieved in 2016 but then Peabody wrote to the local residents in December 2016, telling them that due to the estimated build cost significant increase (and as we heard because units were not selling well on the private market), they had decided to put a temporary hold on the development. Continue reading