Many years ago, there was a branch of the Co-op at 47-49 Lavender Hill – a notably large open-plan shop not far from the junction with Queenstown Road, which still feels a bit like a supermarket inside.
It was later converted to a pub / restaurant, and over the years took quite a few names (the Puzzle, the Taybridge, Elephant on the Hill, etc). Latterly it was Ichnusa, a Sardinian restaurant (which had moved there from a smaller premises further along the street). This was a popular place and had been doing quite well until an inspection by Wandsorth’s food safety team which revealed “very serious and unacceptable health and hygiene breaches” including an “accumulation f raw sewage” and a “fly infestation”. The owner was served with a hygiene prohibition order on February 20 at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court, forcing him to close the business, as well as a hefty fine; it never reopened. The premises has remained empty, looking increasingly sad and abandoned, ever since.
We’ve now heard that there’s a planning application for a change of use (application number 2018/1201), seeking to convert it back from a bar/restaurant to its original use as a shop – and, in an interesting development, the application suggests that if this gets the nod it’s set to become a branch of the Co-op again.
This feels like a welcome and relatively uncontroversial development – after all, this was a shop (indeed, a Co-op) before, the Co-op are generally respectable and not a troublesome neighbour, and a new business here could help the vitality of this section of the street. It also counteracts the trend for shops in this area to convert to cafes and nail bars / hair salons, keeping some balance overall to the retail. It follows a fair few recent openings by the Co-op in the area (Wandsworth road petrol station, Battersea bridge, Clapham south, two branches on the same day in Wandsworth town centre a few years back).
We’d welcome your thoughts on this. Bear in mind that at this stage, the planning application is purely to ‘officialise’ the change of use – any details on changes to the premises to accommodate a supermarket, and what (if any) conditions would be attached, will no doubt be part of another planning application down the line.
(September update: plans are confirmed and work is now underway)