A few weeks ago we reported on proposals by Asda to remove all the trees and plants around their Clapham Junction store, and pave over the green areas with tarmac and a glued gravel finish, seemingly to cut maintenance costs. This horrified many of us – as the last thing the site needs right now, when we’re trying to make our town centres healthier and greener, and coming so soon after work by Wandsworth to create a new planted area on the other side of their car park.
An impressive 98 of you wrote to Wandsworth Council to register objections to the proposals (for which, many thanks!).
The good news is that Asda have clearly realised that they’re not going to get these proposals through – and have submitted updated proposals that keep most of the greenery.
They now plan to keep all the trees in place, as well as the bushes along the Falcon Road part of the site. They still want to remove the bushes and grass in the section facing Lavender Hill, and replace them with chipped bark base and what they describe as “low maintenance ground cover complete with bark mulch” – which is hopefully a code for un-fussy plants.
This is a much better approach – and makes us wonder why Asda ever made such a ridiculous proposal to chop everything down in the first place, it was hardly going to make the store more attractive to shoppers. This just shows that it’s worth objecting to planning applications when they propose to do scandalous things. So we’ll keep these trees, as well as the greenery further along Falcon Lane. At this stage it’s time to say – well done everyone!
We notice that other parts of the proposals (such as painting the white parts of the building dark grey, which don’t actually need planning permission) have already been done.
It’s a shame that Asda have barely engaged (indeed, our partners at Clapham Junction Action Group have been less than impressed by the way Asda have simply not cared about local opinion, with no-one willing to speak about the plans). But these changes show that even if they weren’t interested in speaking to the locals, someone in Asda realised that they needed to change their plans! Maybe Asda were distracted by changes in the business. Asda was, last week, sold to new owners for a shade under £7 billion. It’s no longer controlled by American retail giant WalMart – it’s instead part of EG Group, maybe better known as the entrepreneurial Issa brothers – a duo from Blackburn who turned a humble chain of petrol stations in to a vast business employing 44,000 people, and who were honoured last week with CBEs in the Queen’s birthday honours list. For the sake of the many of our readers who work and shop there, we’re optimistic that the enthusiastic new owners will create a better culture at the organisation.