Pop a new flat in your bas­ket

Up to 150,000 much-needed new Lon­don homes could be built along­side or above su­per­mar­kets. The big names are team­ing up with de­vel­op­ers. By

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - New Homes -

BRI­TAIN’S big­gest su­per­mar­kets are di­ver­si­fy­ing into prop­erty with an am­bi­tious pro­gramme to build thou­sands of new homes at sites across Lon­don. City plan­ners and politi­cians, des­per­ate to un­lock land for house build­ing, are en­cour­ag­ing su­per­mar­kets to re­de­velop low-rise stores where space is go­ing to waste.

For years su­per­mar­kets have raced to gob­ble up mas­sive brown­field sites as shop­pers showed an in­sa­tiable ap­petite for mega stores. These sites are now pro­vid­ing an enor­mous op­por­tu­nity — about 150,000 homes in Lon­don could be built above or along­side stores, says prop­erty an­a­lyst GL Hearn. Ev­ery chance should be taken when Bri­tain needs at least 230,000 new homes each year to make up for the cur­rent deficit.


Tesco has al­ready com­pleted projects in Wool­wich and Streatham, and iden­ti­fied an­other 20 “air rights” sites in Lon­don ex­pected to bring at least 9,000 homes. Un­der way is a de­vel­op­ment at Morn­ing Lane, Hack­ney, where a small store will re­place a big­ger one to free up land for more than 300 “own-brand” homes.

Ri­val Sains­bury has teamed up with Bar­ratt at Ful­ham River­side and Nine Elms Point, Vaux­hall, both of which have spec­tac­u­lar gar­dens above new su­per­mar­kets next to glam­orous apart­ment blocks where homes are now for sale. Sains­bury and builder Mount Anvil are work­ing up plans for a huge site next to New Cross Gate train sta­tion, while Mor­risons is to build 700 flats and houses at Chalk Farm Road, Cam­den.


For su­per­mar­kets, such re­de­vel­op­ments bring a wel­come profit boost at a time of in­tense com­pe­ti­tion and changes trig­gered by in­ter­net shop­ping. Sains­bury net­ted a £95 mil­lion profit from the Vaux­hall deal alone, while Tesco ex­pects air rights to gen­er­ate at least £400 mil­lion, with a fur­ther £1 bil­lion from of­fload­ing land, car parks and un­der-utilised space in stores.

The gro­cery giants are in­ves­ti­gat­ing ways to make above-store build­ing more cost- ef­fec­tive. This in­cludes off- site con­struc­tion, or pre­fab­ri­cated homes, as­sem­bled in a fac­tory and then craned into po­si­tion. “There are huge ben­e­fits to mix­ing su­per­mar­kets and hous­ing,” says Michael Bick­er­ton of de­vel­op­ment con­sul­tant Cush­man & Wake­field. “It’s an ef­fi­cient use of land and can cre­ate a new neigh­bour­hood hub in ar­eas that need re­gen­er­a­tion.” But will this be good build­ing — or just a way of mak­ing money for su­per­mar­kets?

There are con­cerns about the ar­chi­tec­tural qual­ity of the homes to be built, in­clud­ing fears that su­per­mar­kets could adopt the “pile them high, sell them cheap” ap­proach that turned them into global busi­nesses in the first place. So, care­ful de­sign, in­clud­ing cre­ative land­scap­ing and at­trac­tive pub­lic spa­ces, is needed to pro­tect buy­ers from noise, smells from waste stor­age, the dis­rup­tion of night-time de­liv­er­ies and the general bus­tle of ev­ery­day op­er­a­tions.

Liv­ing above the shop is not some­thing new, and in some ways the su­per­mar­ket sweep is a large- scale rein­ven­tion of the tra­di­tional high street, which had shops at street level and homes above — a clas­sic model that we know works. Oth­ers point to the

Live above the shop: Streatham’s High Road Hub in­cludes new flats, sports fa­cil­i­ties and a Tesco Ex­tra su­per­mar­ket

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