There’s a lot going for Lavender Hill – above all, the gentrification in the streets that surround it it mean it has an densely populated catchment area of customers with disposable income. The opening of a large new hotel at the eastern end, the arrival of Apple’s UK headquarters and thousands of new flats ten minutes’ walk down the Queenstown Road, will also help. It has plenty of elegant landmark buildings – Battersea Arts Centre, the central Library, Debenhams/Arding & Hobbs… It has also had a great deal of investment to spruce up the streetscape at the end nearer Clapham Junction to a very high standard, with paving & lighting any town would be proud of.
It has the UK’s busiest railway station at its western end, and some decent transport options at the other end, which in themselves create a lot of passing trade – this is the sort of place where people tend to walk to the station every day, past the businesses, rather than driving from their front door. It has a large underground car park (at Asda – this is town centre parking; we understand you don’t have to shop there to park there for a limited time). The Clapham Junction ton centre is a successful one, and Lavender Hill is a secondary part of it – picking up some of the non-chain businesses that want to be in the area but can’t afford to be on the super-expensive Northcote Road.
About a third of the units have open space at the front, which is what has driven the increasing number of restaurants and cafes that want some external seating for the summer. It also has a low vacancy rate – 7% of the units (mainly the tiny ones), or an impressively low 3.2% if you discount all the ones that are currently construction sites.
But… That doesn’t mean to say all is perfect – or we wouldn’t need to do anything at all! There are issues. The central section lacks anchor retail – something to draw customers in. The eastern end looks, in part, quite scruffy and in need of a good tidying up. We have lost a lot of street trees in some sections, and they now feel as though they are dominated by heavy traffic. There’s a high turnover of businesses in some units at the eastern end. There are a lot of nail bars and salons, which – though not in itself a problem – can suggest some underlying problems. And a few units seem to have been vacant for years.