EXCLUSIVE: Proposals for a new Foodhall are expected to be submitted to the council’s planning department within the next couple of months. detailing a scheme that promises a total of 120 new jobs and 20 ‘affordable’ studio spaces for local creatives. By STEVEN DOWNES
Purley could be about to get its very own Marks and Spencer store, with proposals to convert and upgrade an otherwise neglected heritage building on Brighton Road due to be submitted to the council’s planning department before the end of the summer.
Developers Grove Properties have just published a public consultation website with their plans for the former Milk and More site, close to the Purley Oaks roundabout. Inside Croydon understands that Grove has purchased the site from Muller with vacant possession and that M&S has signed a contract and promised investment to help deliver a store in a part of the borough where the retailers have long wanted a presence.
This morning, an M&S spokesperson told Inside Croydon: “We are excited about the prospect of opening a store on Brighton Road and hope customers in the area will soon be able to enjoy delicious, great value M&S Food from a brand new M&S Foodhall.”
A source close to the developers told Inside Croydon, “Marks and Spencer and the developers have exchanged contracts, subject to planning permission. So this is all in the hands of Croydon Council’s planners now, and how quickly they can bring the application to the committee.
“M&S have long wanted to have a store in Purley. This store will complement the existing stores in Croydon, not cannibalise them.”
The retailer continues to trade from its Whitgift Centre store in Croydon town centre, too.
What is being proposed at Purley for what was once a Unigate dairy and head office appears to be a sympathetic re-use of heritage buildings on a site set back from the busy Brighton Road.
The site features three buildings with locally listed frontages “currently in a poor state of repair”, according to a spokesperson for the developers. “These will be retained, carefully restored and brought into public use,” they say.
As well as 70 car parking spaces, there will also be an off-road delivery bay, to avoid adding to the traffic congestion on this stretch of Brighton Road, which is not far from the constantly-busy Purley Oaks municipal dump.
“The new two-storey building with an M&S Foodhall at ground floor level will not be as wide as the existing building and is set back from neighbours to preserve their outlook and light levels and prevent any overshadowing,” the developers say on their consultation website.
“It has also been designed to have no side facing windows to avoid overlooking.
“The design for the new Foodhall seeks to celebrate these locally listed buildings, which will give the store an attractive appearance whilst retaining the area’s heritage and character.”
To the rear of the site will be a three-storey “creative and cultural enterprise hub”, offering 20 studio spaces.
“These studios have been designed to enable local business to grow, develop and stay within Purley, supporting innovation and enterprise to flourish within the London Borough of Croydon.
“Not only will these affordable studios provide a viable option for local businesses starting up, but a variety of studio sizes and flexible model will also mean businesses can stay in the area as they expand.”
The creative hub will consist of 20 individual studios and two large open-plan studios, located above the retail car park, with access from Purley Park Road.
“The proposed buildings are a similar height and scale as those currently located on site, ensuring the plans are in keeping with the existing streetscape.
“The new three-story enterprise hub along Purley Park Road mimics the scale, height and design of the existing building and has been designed with neighbouring properties in mind. The materials proposed are in-keeping with Purley Park Road and the wider area. Any side facing windows will be obscure glazed to maintain neighbour’s privacy.”
Nick Snashall, from Grove Property, is leading the team behind the plans. He said: “These are exciting plans for a site which is currently vacant with derelict buildings.
“This investment by M&S will regenerate the area, create new jobs and bring a new shopping experience to Purley.
“The enterprise hub provides a viable option for local businesses starting with a variety of studio sizes and a flexible model meaning businesses can stay in the area as they expand.
“We are running an online consultation and want to hear residents’ thoughts about the plans before we submit a planning application later this year.”
If the developers can get their scheme through Croydon’s notoriously slow-working council planning department and presented to the planning committee before the end of 2023, they hope to start contruction next year.
Grove Property, based in fashionable Worlds End Studios in Chelsea, describe themselves as a “boutique property company”. The Purley scheme has been designed by 3W Architecture.
The developers are expected to have a stand at tomorrow’s Purley High Street Fete, organised by the Purley BID team, where the public will have an opportunity to view the plans and ask questions.
The scheme’s dedicated consultation website is www.brightonroad.co.uk, where people are invited to leave their comments about the proposals.
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