New retail development at Bell Green



Well there are two Lidl stores not far away if that is your poison - Both are within a brisk stroll of the proposed development so I don’t think an additional Aldi really adds much except competition…

Neither are in SE23 but then again Sainsbury’s isn’t either. Personally I rarely use any supermarket so an additional Aldi is of no interest but if it has to be something like that then a SeeWoo or Wing Yip would be nice and would offer something different.


I hear that the Safeway Coop Somerfield Morrison Budgen in Sydenham currently available. That would make a good spot for Aldi. Leaving the gas cylinders available as an cinema (inside the cylinders).

However, a better idea for the failed supermarket site in Sydenham might be to turn it back into a cinema:

(image from


Unfortunately without easy car parking nothing other than Express style stores are likely to succeed. The Budgen store is probably too large to be useful for that. As for a Cinema again no easy parking the one at the rear of Lidl is a pain to get out of if you want to turn right on exit. Plus Cinemas are suffering most films go to video fairly quickly and the costs are fairly prohibitive. If there was a case for a cinema the Capitol in FH would probably be a better choice no parking but easier transport links.
I think we have to face the reality that out of town retail parks are the future so my thoughts are conversion to housing/flats then perhaps a small retail unit or restaurant would be sustainable on the lower level.


You’re right of course. Lidl should close both and centralise here with a larger offering.


I don’t think the parking is too bad for the Safeway site, a small detour via Newlands Park gets you onto Sydenham Road. No worse than the detour to get in Sainsbury’s car park in Forest Hill - which incidently would provide a convenient car park for The Capitol Cinema in Forest Hill.

I did suggest housing above the proposed Aldi at Bell Green (as I mentioned above) but they don’t currently want to do this despite the precedent set by Sports Direct site next door.


It’s not habitable because of the cost of clearance makes it unattractive.


From within the South circular it is a significant hassle to get to the car park - out onto the South Circular (which hardly needs more traffic) and back in again. I can only draw the conclusion that the Council would be happy for the High Street/London Road to fail as a shopping/entertainment venue - then they can justify building more votes (social housing) on the Sainsbury’s/car park site and make us all go shopping in Bell Green.


I don’t really get the problem with the ‘detour’ into the FH car park. It isn’t really a detour. It’s where the car park is situated. You are already in your car, getting to the car park is just part of your journey, no? It seems like hassle because there’s only one way to get there. But once you are there, it couldn’t be more convenient for Sainsburys and the rest of FH is within a short walk.


Agreed. But it would be a lot more convenient if the parking meters worked more reliably. Last time I was there they were both broken - and my phone battery promptly died so I couldn’t even download Ringo (or whatever it’s called). It was too risky to park for the 10 minutes I needed so I had to find a space in David’s Road and scrounge any change I could find in the car.


There is always the car park behind the station.


If both the meters are broken I would assume you don’t have to pay (please correct me if I’m wrong). Not everyone has a smart phone so the Council can’t make Ringo a default if the meters are out. In that situation I put a note in my windscreen with the time and date. LB Lewisham can check the machine logs against any claim that they were not working. I’ve done this successfully in the past.

In any case, we seem to be drifting off the topic here.


I suspect that this is a form of land banking. They will make a better profit by waiting for further uplift? I don’t know what can be done about this but it is a big problem all over London.


Michael seems to have forgotten an earlier incarnation of this thread where it was explained that it would cost too much to build housing on the Bell Green site due to having to decontaminate the area and remove the ground dome.


Supermarkets don’t always like residential above supermarkets as it can cause management issues. Of course if the site is allocated for mixed retail/residential they would be obliged to offer it to secure planning permission, but I don’t think that is the case here.

I am always struck when I go to or past the Sainsburys there how incredibly land hungry it is.


Yes well that does depend doesn’t it. If the Bakerloo was thought to be going there then I believe that this would make the supermarkets/developers much more keen. Compare with proposals for New Cross Gate (Sainsbury) and Lewisham (Tesco) sites.


I’d rather keep them than replace them with another bland warehouse. But would rather they were used to create something better. The Gas Holder no.8 ‘park’ at King’s Cross is a good example, but of course this relied on cash from property developers, who had them dismantled, reconditioned and reassembled in new locations. The others surround housing developments, creating a frame around towers.

It’s interesting that the Livesey Memorial Hall, on the same site has been listed for it’s architectural and historic role.

“HISTORY. Much of the building work was carried out by the Gas Company itself George Thomas Livesey, knighted in 1902, initiated many technical improvements in the design of gas holders. He was the builder of the Greenwich Gas Works (1883) and was a pioneeer of Co-partnership (profit-sharing) within the industry.”

The towers are the last remnants of the actual site. They may be ‘ugly’, but beauty is not necessarily an important factor in whether something is historically significant. They are also, in part, ‘ugly’ because they are still sitting there as they were when they were used and not reconditioned or looked after. Although some towers have been listed, they are undoubtedly becoming rarer, and will probably be seen in a different light by future generations. I also like the use of the chimney stacks at Ikea in Croydon, which have become landmarks for those seeking Ikea (and also preserved for the future in the process).

It seems to me that there is an opportunity to create something of significance here, perhaps involving the Livesey Memorial Hall, which appears to be used for parties and community meetings at the moment, and looks quite tired. How about some sort of museum focusing on the gas industry and the role of the site. The gas towers could be adapted in some way so that they can be ascended for views of the city, perhaps even used to generate renewable energy (solar/ wind) to tie in with the theme of the site. A park for children could carry a similar theme and the Livesey Hall could be a museum and education centre. Just an idea and of course it would require some sort of funding, but would spruce up the area, provide jobs and perhaps put Sydenham on the map in a positive way.

Just a thought.


Until a few years ago I dont remember anyone referring to the Bell Green towers in tones other than “eyesore”. Funny how times change.


I have always liked em but I love industrial architecture. I realise I am prolly in a minority but to me there is nothing as lovely as an electrical sub station or water works.
Seeing them from the top of some of the hills has always made me happy and I’d be glad to see them retained. On the other hand if they are to go I’d like something more than an Aldi to replace them.


As industrial architecture goes, I think they are quite attractive, and should stay if they’re maintained well and integrated tastefully into a new project. Context is important - if the gas holders stood amid rolling hills in the countryside, I’d want them demolished. But locally, they don’t detract hugely from what’s there already, and they also add a bit of character.


Oh I am a great fan of industrial architecture but the locals (well all the checkout people at Sainsburys who lived in the area) disliked them as an eyesore.