Lidl encounters strong opposition after paying £2m for pub site

Lidl could have paid three times the market rate to purchase the Good Companions pub site on Limpsfield Road, Sanderstead, and look like they could be left with a £2.2 million real estate bill for a store that few locals actually want.

Not quite the branding that the residents of Sanderstead want in their neighbourhood

The pub – just inside the Croydon-Surrey boundary, at the junction of Limpsfield Road and Tithepit Shaw Lane – closed earlier this year for the final time. The difficulties in the pub business are well-known, but the Good Companions, despite its prime position, had deeper, reputational issues, having been the scene of a shotgun double murder 10 years ago.

The pub’s closure leaves the area without any nearby public houses – the closest now being at Warlingham Green, while Sanderstead has no pubs at all.

The area has no shortage of supermarkets, however, with a Waitrose and Co-op nearby, and a large Sainsbury’s at Warlingham.

Two weeks ago, more than 200 residents attended a public meeting and expressed outright hostility to Lidl moving in on the area. They voiced fears the supermarket chain would bring additional traffic chaos, affect property prices and damage independent businesses, including the local post office.

Last night senior staff from the German budget supermarket chain attended a public consultation at the Post Office club in Trenham Drive, where it emerged that the company had paid £2.2 million for the site. Local property values suggest that a similar sized property in Sanderstead would normally sell for little more than £700,000 – suggesting that interest in the site from Tesco had created a bidding war.

But residents seem implacably opposed and influential local councillors are already flagging up possible problems over planning permission.

“We do not want Lidl,” said Lynne Hale, the parliamentary assistant for local MP Richard Ottaway and a Sanderstead councillor. “The design looks like it’s a box. It is horrible. That is not withstanding all the other issues such as the traffic.”

Hale, together with councillors Tim Pollard and Yvette Hopley, have undertaken to oppose any development that does not respect the landmark site and village character of the area.

Interesting how this can be done so readily for the proposal of a Lidl in Sanderstead, while the landmark Swan & Sugarloaf pub and village character of the Selsdon Road is ignored by their Conservative colleagues on the council from Fairfield, Croham and Waddon wards when it comes to a Tesco Express in South Croydon.

Back at the Good Companions: with two schools – Hamsey Green juniors and Warlingham secondary – nearby on Tithepit Shaw Lane, there are well-founded fears that a supermarket could attract additional traffic which would endanger children, and not only at school times.

The Good Companions as it looked before closure

Mal Webb is a vice-president of the nearby Warlingham rugby club, which has hundreds of children, aged from six to 18, attending its mini and junior sections each Sunday. “We oppose this very strongly,” said Webb, a prominent local businessman.

“This will increase the traffic flow immensely in an area which is surrounded by sports clubs and local schools and will become a serious threat to children in and around the area.

“There are no zebra crossings or pelican crossings in either Tithe Pit Shaw Lane or on the busy Limpsfield Road at Hamsey Green, making this area unsafe.”

The proposals look to have entered the battle of the petitions. Lidl’s online petition has attracted 150 signatures in favour, while 251 people have signed a petition already submitted to Croydon Council opposing the demolition of the pub.

The Facebook group “Save the Good Companions” has more than 600 followers, and it is calling upon residents to pin ribbons to the hoardings surrounding the site to signal their opposition to the development.

A third potential buyer of the site had been the pub group behind the Hungry Horse chain – a buyer that would seem to be more acceptable to locals.

One concerned resident who wrote to Inside Croydon said: “Since the introduction of Sainsbury’s half a mile to my left and Waitrose half a mile to my right, the main road is constantly busier with large juggernauts delivering to both of these stores.

“Now I hear Lidl  are taking over my local pub The Good Companions. This cannot be allowed to happen, it will kill local shops, including the small Co-op which doubles up as our only post office.”

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10 Responses to Lidl encounters strong opposition after paying £2m for pub site

  1. ndavies144 says:

    The council could quite easily refuse A1 – retail – planning consent and insist on A4 – pub. They could probably have made it very clear at the start, before Lidl bought it, indeed before Tesco bought the Swan and Sugarloaf and, long ago, before Aldi bought the Red Lion in Cousdon – that that was what they’d do.

    The Coulsdon situation has remained static for years now, leaving a gaping hole in the town centre which the council seem powerless to do anything about beyond stall things indefinitely. I say ‘seem powerless’. They could sort it out tomorrow if they had the tiniest bit of imagination. It can’t be that difficult to buy the site, develop it into something that most of the local populace like and then sell it on, and with a bit of luck make a bit of profit in the process.

  2. Interesting how selective Tory councillors are. I wonder how they would react if M&S had wanted to move in.
    Have Lidl indicated that they want to demolish the building and erect a box in place?
    I buy a number of items in Lidl and I am very happy with what I purchase.
    I meet many people in the New Addington Lidl, Leader of the Council included.

  3. Interesting that the chair of Sanderstead Residents’ Association spoke out in the local press in support of this development. Proper representation in CR2 is well overdue.

  4. Elizabeth (@ElizCro) Mr Eldridge if thats who you mean , I have spoke to him , I suggested he was guilty of not knowing his people saying i quote” I think the locals would welcome a Lidl’s ”
    He is on side and came to both meetings .
    Marzia Nicodemi-Ehikioya Yes intend to knock down and box shape Design ,
    I am not knocking Lidl’s but just not next to three schools , 6 supermarkets within a 3.3 miles
    and right next door to houses (unlike Addington one ), mine included

  5. Tell everyone and any one to go or to object , they have sent letters to as far as field as Selsdon and Purley .
    So two play that game , so where ever you live we need objection .
    Thank you Alex
    P.S Facebook site “save the Good Companions”.

  6. Thank you for your answer, Mr. Anderson.
    When I have time, I will have a walk about in the area. The people of Shirley fought against a Tesco many years ago, well before I moved here. Now we have only a mini Co-Op which is more like a corner shop than anything else.
    I would welcome a Lidl as I would save on petrol. However, I found out that there is a large Co-Op in New Addington and often shop there too. I never go to West Wickham or Bromley.
    By the way, the New Addington Lidl is in the middle of a housing estate. Perhaps you have never been there.

  7. Alex Anderson, you say, in reply to me, “Mr Eldridge if that’s who you mean , I have spoken to him. I suggested he was guilty of not knowing his people saying, I quote” I think the locals would welcome a Lidl’s.”

    This is not news to Sanderstead residents who are up in arms at the way the Sanderstead Residents’ Association (SRA) represents views that are certainly not those of the community it serves. SRA make all sorts of representations without consulting residents let alone members.

    When you say, “He is on side and came to both meetings” this is no surprise either. SRA do not only fail to seek members’ views but they do not advise members of what is going on locally. I knew nothing of these meetings that Mr Eldridge attended.

    As I say, proper representation in CR2 is long overdue. It is a real scandal that perhaps Inside Croydon should take up again. Here are links to just two of the previous articles:

    The site is certainly not suitable for a supermarket and the are is already well served by supermarkets and an array of small shops, both in Hamsey Green and the triangle at Warlingham.

  8. Dale Ingram says:

    The Trouble With Pubs. There is no requirement to seek planning consent for the change of use of an A4 pub to the other A class uses, such as restaurant (A3), Financial & professional services (solicitors, estate agents, betting shops) (A2) or retail (A1). This is a battle the Campaign for Real Ale has been fighting on behalf of Britain’s pubs for a very long time. About a quarter of pubs recently closed in my area have been sold to the main retailers as Express and Local stores.

    You can object, once the application is in, to the planning application for the building of the store, on traffic, road safety, parking, residential amenity – the loss of a local community social facility is an amenity- design and local character grounds – it is as ugly as sin, that tin box – to prevent the development going ahead. Croydon Council will have planning policies designed to prevent those kind of eyesores in residential areas especially.

    But right now you need to focus on preventing the demolition. It may be easier to get consent to put a store there – if not that design – once the pub itself has gone, although I was delighted to discover that, all over the country, Planning Inspectors are dismissing appeals* (refusing consent for) LIDL boxes and the company is consequently sitting on one mouldering, vacant plot after another.

    However, pre-emptive demolition is, I am afraid, an all-too-common ruse by developers to strong-arm local people and deprive them of their community assets. If they then fail to get consent to build their store, the site remains a festering eye-sore, and you will still end up without your pub.

    Dale Ingram
    Historic Environment & Planning Consultant

    CAMRA London Region Pubs Protection Coordinator

    *Ely refuses LIDL:

  9. Saif Bonar says:

    This is a nice looking oldish building of which there aren’t enough in and around Croydon. It should not be allowed to be knocked down. Nor the Swan and Sugarloaf.

    Let them use it for retail if need be (by all accounts they would be hard pressed to make it viable – wrong product in the wrong location) – but the existing building should be adapted, not demolished and replaced with a monstrosity

  10. ndavies144 says:

    Saif: Thirties’ roadhouses make excellent fast food drive-thrus: the McDonald’s between Shirley and West Wickham is a perfect example of the genre. The whole area around the Goodies is mercifully devoid of such facilities at the moment. Be careful what you wish for.

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