Six-Storey Wimbledon Flats And Shops Scheme Condemned By Planners

Developers want to transform town centre crossroads with new plan

Flat and shop plans for the former Argos building

Plans to demolish the former Argos building in the heart of Wimbledon town centre and replace it with shops and 20 flats have been roundly condemned.

PK Holdings have applied for planning permission to replace the landmark building on the corner of Wimbledon Hill Road and Alexandra Road with a property rising to six storeys (see above).

The current three-storey building, now occupied by a discount store selling household items, was built in 1995 and incorporates the 'Wimbledon sundial' on its frontage.

Developers want to create a building which would be part four-storeys and part six-storeys. There would be pavement widening, shops on the ground floor and residential access to nine one-bed flats and 11 two-bed flats from Alexandra Road.

Former Argos buildingIn their planning application, they state they want to "transform an existing retail store with little engagement with its context into a design-led, vibrant mixed-use scheme that will give justice to such a prominent location. The architecture proposed has been carefully considered to engage with and make a positive contribution to its setting."

But a Merton Council Design Review Panel earlier this month has given a 'red' verdict to the scheme as it stands.

In the panel's meeting notes it it stated: "The panel questioned whether residential use was appropriate for the site given its proximity to a busy junction. They had concerns with the levels of noise and air quality in this location."

In terms of the design, the meeting concluded: "This is a prominent corner site, the panel strongly suggested that the applicant analyses the context and focus on the four corners that create the setting for the junction, current and proposed.

"It was felt that there was the scope and opportunity for an exciting building to work on this important site and its important location gave the applicant a responsibility to achieve this."

But the Design Review Panel did state that "six storeys was appropriate for the site given its location and prominence. It could possibly be taller."

Love Wimbledon has told the council that while it supports the site's redevelopment, it feels the proposal is not "consistent with the aspirations of the town centre".

It says it objects to the scheme for a number of reasons, stating it is in a "key spot" and "should be of strategic design importance, one that is admired by visitors, aspiring to be award-winning." It does not believe it is an appropriate place for people to live.

Love Wimbledon was also "disappointed" that neither the architect nor developers had consulted with the local community to "help build their understanding of the town".

Chris Goodair, Chair of the Wimbledon Society's Planning and Environment Committee, also sent in objections on behalf of the local conservation group.

He pointed out that the Wimbledon Hill Road conservation area was only four properties away and that new buildings so close to it should reflect the historic streetscape. He said that at six storeys high it was taller than the vast majority of buildings in the area.

"The site is an important intersection in Wimbledon, being the main crossroads in the town centre...Any design therefore has to reflect the importance of the location in the life and character of the town," he added.

December 19, 2022