A NEW SUPERMARKET IN THE HIGH STREET.
Plans have been submitted for a mixed retail, residential and office development on the site of the old garages and Claridge House at 27-29 Barnes High Street (Application 10/2112/FUL). The hearing for this was held at York House on Thursday 6th January. There were formal objections from Cllr Gemma Stockley, myself and Chris Wilkins, owner of former One Stop (and also a written objection from Zac Goldsmith). Nevertheless it went to three separate votes and on each occasion there was deadlock (4 votes for and 4 against). The casting vote of the Chairman (Cllr David Linnette) meant that the application went through.
Many Barnes residents are looking forward to a Waitrose or Marks and Spencer food store arriving, so they may be perplexed as to why we should make objections.
We would agree that the facility, considered in isolation, would be marvellous but our objections are in fear of the IMPACT.
The retail area proposed is 8,676 sq ft. More then twice the size of the former One Stop site. Clearly it is designed with a supermarket in mind. There will not be a demand for two supermarkets in Barnes High Street so one will remain empty – as likely as not the One Stop site, which lies in the centre of the shopping area. If however (with Sainsbury’s around the corner), the new site is the empty one, what will happen to it? It is too inflexible in its design to be considered for alternative use.
There has been no parking provision made for the 5 maisonettes and 3,542 sq ft of office space proposed and parking is already very limited in this part of Barnes.
No loading bay has been agreed. The road (and pavement) is particularly narrow and on a curve at this site. Will traffic be able to get past at all?
A supermarket of this size will hold sufficient stock to threaten Seals, Barnes Fish shop, the Real Cheese shop, Victoria’s, the Parish bakery, Londis and Two Peas in a Pod. Barnes High Street has more empty shops than any other part of Barnes already.
The counter argument (put forward by Cllr Miller several times) is that supermarkets increase footfall (the implication being that people will then shop into other shops). However my own research from questioning shoppers in the Farmers’ market, showed that 50% were not intending to go anywhere else other than home. I suggest that might be the case after loading up at the supermarket.
My main grievance was that Cllr Miller argued it would be good for Barnes and Cllr Morris was extremely doubtful (on the basis of impact on the town centre and on traffic problems). But neither had any facts or proof and the vote was being made on the basis of guesswork. Surely for something as important as this, we rely on our Council to carry out the necessary research? Research was carried out for Sainsbury’s in White Hart Lane, which suggested Barnes was a “retail healthy” area and could accept more shops. Some of the Councillors quoted this, but it was published before the recession. We now have 20 – 25 vacant shops in Barnes….hardly a sign that it is “healthy” and given that we are one of the top ten places in the UK for internet shopping (Experian research), the situation is not likely to improve much in the near future.
This development is not in the “key frontage” section of the High Street. Rather it is off-centre. It could have become offices or even residential (or, as it was originally Council land – it could have been a much needed car park!). Chris Wilkins’ shop however cannot change its land use from retail. And as a final irony – it is in a conservation area!
I worry that The New Economic Foundation’s forecast of “Death in the High Street” might happen on our very doorstep.