Sainsbury's Mulls New Plan For Chiswick Store

Company acquires freehold of the site for potential mixed-use development

View from over Turnham Green looking across at development on site of Sainsbury's car park (from Tate Hindle's 2012 plan)

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A major redevelopment of the centre of Chiswick could be looming as it emerged that Sainsbury's has acquired the freehold of the site on which their supermarket is located and is considering a mixed-use development.

A paragraph in the recent interim trading statement from Sainsbury's confirms that the company is actively considering redeveloping the site. It states, "net retail capital expenditure (was) £315 million (2015/16: £298 million), mainly as a result of the purchase of a freehold at Chiswick, where there may be future potential for a mixed use development."

Sainsbury's opposed the Lend Lease plans for their Empire House/Essex Place project two years ago, arguing that it would prevent a comprehensive development of site to the north of Chiswick High Road. This was taken as an indication that Sainsbury's might ultimately want to put forward a much larger scheme which could include the car park outside the store.

News that Sainsbury's has acquired the freehold has revived local speculation that the company may be considering incorporating the Lend Lease development at Empire House into a much larger mixed-use scheme which would include the site of the current supermarket and the car park. Earlier plans, which were never put forward for planning approval, showed a new Sainsbury's store with a frontage onto the High Road opposite Turnham Green.

We asked Sainsbury's for a comment and they said that they looking at a number of possible options but it is too early to speculate.

The Lend Lease scheme for Empire House/Essex Place was unpopular with a section of the local community and resident groups and one local unsuccessfully sought a judicial review of the manner in which Hounslow Council's awarded planning permission to the developer.

A letter sent to the Council's Planning Committee by Indigo, a planning consultancy representing Sainsbury's, stated that their concern was based on "the piecemeal nature of the proposed development which is premature and prejudices the comprehensive development of the whole site, including the Sainsbury's store and car park, which is an emerging policy requirement of the Council."

It was also concerned the Lend Lease project would have a "detrimental impact" on the operation of its store and there were "clear conflicts that arise from this proposed residential development in close proximity to an operational foodstore."

One local source said there were reports that the two companies had been in exploratory talks to see if there was a way forward towards a comprehensive development of the site. The source said this might be "an opportunity to have it done properly with involvement of LBH but also local residents who never said they were against development of the site, but rather the way in which the developer and the council went about it."

Chiswick High Road showing new Sainsbury's stretching from Essex Place toward Acton Lane

The Sainsbury site was owned jointly with property investment company British Land which now appears to have cashed in its investment. It runs from the back of the Empire House development to the railway line and includes both the supermarket site and car park - the latter is subject to a covenant with Hounslow Council but only in relation to charges for parking. It is understood that Sainsbury's do not believe that the covenant would prevent them developing the site.

Sainsbury's had argued its case to Hounslow Planning Committee saying "careful consideration should be given to a holistic approach to ensure the Sainsbury's site . . . can be integrated in the future."

"We consider this not only to be in conflict with existing policy but also the ambition of emerging policy," they said at the time.

Hounslow Council planning officials did not share that view. The Council approved the Lend Lease project stating that; "The combination of the buildings creates a new sense of place, bringing and linking Essex Place into the High Road. The same post-modern contemporary style has been approved at the Acton Lane site."

Local speculation is now growing that that ' holistic' development may be on the horizon, as work appears to have slowed on the current Lend Lease development. We have asked the developer for comment.

November 18, 2016

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