New retail development at Bell Green



Just out of curiosity, how many years is it since they were decommissioned? I often wondered at them going up and down though you never actually saw them move.


A good question @AndyS - there is some information here which also details the consequences of the original retail development.

One thing that I had missed or not fully appreciated is the link between the Livesey Hall, Memorial and the gas works.

However the heritage document, submitted as part of the overall application, states: “The two gasholders contribute to the setting of the Livesey Memorial Hall owing to the historic relationship with the former gasworks.”

A gas works was set up on the site by the Southern Suburban Gas Co., and Grade II Livesy Hall is a memorial to Sir George Livesy, built after his death in 1908

The hall was both a memorial to Livesy, described in the documents as “the outstanding gas engineer of his generation” and a social club for workers.


The structures, whatever anyone thinks about them, are a liability to someone right now.

So what does it cost for the owner to ensure 24/7 year-round public safety? I mean, if the site isn’t properly secure and someone injures themselves in there then they could be into some kind of negligence claim.

No doubt the contaminated land could be neutralised in some way or other and one or both of the gasometers could be enhanced or integrated into a residential design scheme but, realistically, this part of Lower Sydenham is blighted by heavy traffic use, both on the main road and into the retail park, so the potential selling price of the flats isn’t going to be exactly high end.

So, limiting factors on pricing combined with massive outlay on land decontamination and *Dulux (*abbreviation for painting 2 hu-poxy-mungous gasometers) equals, nothing but a gaspipe dream!

The historic buildings and monuments people are happy for it all to go so my view is that if anyone wants to the dictate what goes on here, and if that prevents the current owners from selling the site, they should at least be prepared to take on or share the responsibility and cost of securing the site until such time as a better option than ALDI comes along.

I’d be surprised if there could ever be any purely financial justification for keeping the gasometers but, if the Bakerloo Line gets down there, it won’t be too long before a resi scheme including a large gasometer-shaped (steel pseudo framed) block of flats could be a justi-viable option. };^)~


Any update to the plans?

Also does anyone know what happened to the plan for a cinema at bell Green?


No, but there is talk of a Nandos and cinema at Kirkdale in Sydenham. Nandos is awaiting result of planning application.


I hope they get it! We need a Nando’s around here. True sign of gentrification if you ask me.


All sorts of obstacles are being put in their way apparently because they’ve stated 15% of their trade will be takeaway - comments about mopeds, deliveròo and even about obesity!


No doubt by people who would prefer a Pret or a Costa or something they like no doubt.
We all know grilled chicken and obesity go hand in hand!


Residents generally seem to be in favour Other forces appear to be at work. Interesting thread on Sydenham forum.


Interesting, never understand why people not interested in a business feel the need to put objections in. Not the first time I have seen it happen. Sure it won’t be the last either.

I shall have a look for the thread you speak of.


Here you go:

You may want to get comfy. Make a cup of tea. It’s a lengthy thread. You may also want to search that forum for discussions on the Windmill Pub for background to some of the animosities on display.




When planning applications take more than six months to be decided it suggests that the council are demanding further information or they are expecting to reject the application but are giving the developer time to amend their proposals.

In this case I suspect the developers are hoping that somebody else will find a use for the old Coop on Sydenham Road, because with that remaining empty the policies are really very clear that there is no good case for building a new supermarket out of town and next door to a hypermarket.

The sequential test guides main town centre uses towards town centre locations first, then, if no town centre locations are available, to edge of centre locations, and, if neither town centre locations nor edge of centre locations are available, to out of town centre locations, with preference for accessible sites which are well connected to the town centre. It supports the viability and vitality of town centres by placing existing town centres foremost in both plan-making and decision-taking.


That is without even discussing the historical context for the development (which has been discussed above).

The full text of the objection I wrote (with assistance) on behalf of the Forest Hill Society can be read here. By the time I had finished writing the objection I was amazed how strong the case against this development was - based on Lewisham, London, and national planning policies.


If the viability of the town centre location was so good,how come neither the Coop nor Budgens could make it work?
You can try and force your planning will on the people, however, market forces will prevail.If the location was able to sustain a business then said business would occupy the site, idealogical wishing does not pay the bills.
So in 12 months time when the site is still unoccupied what then? Perhaps given the housing shortage, conversion to flats?

I just love those who present objections without recourse to common sense or suggestion as to what a solution might be. I also think that those ‘historical’ Gas holders if so important should be adopted paid for and maintained by a society interested in doing so. That way tax and ratepayers can be relieved of any burden for their continued existence.

I am sure this post will get both positive and negative responses so would request that all suggestions contain a solution that is workable as I would welcome and wholeheartedly any sensible suggestion.


I think a lot of these arguments - for and against - have been made already and at length. It’s in the hands of the planners now.

Random thought: I wonder how many people who support a project let the planners know? Is there even a process to do that?


There is for private dwellings, not sure about commercial.


Budgen’s failure was not a reflection on Sydenham. Coop sold the store to Budgens as part of a package of all other former former Sommerfield stores when the Coop group was in crisis. Since then Tesco and Sainsbury have both moved onto the high street in Sydenham - on the site of former pubs.

I’ve no doubt the site in Sydenham would make a good location for a supermarket or for another business, such as a cinema (as I suggested above). In the meantime, the further development of Bell Green will only have a detrimental impact on Sydenham town centre - which is against government planning strategy.


The very fact that Tesco and Sainsburys have occupied sites previously pubs makes my point . Changing demographics and market forces come into play so 25,000 pubs have closed! Despite government extending opening hours.

If the site was ‘valuable’ for a retail enterprise it would be snapped up, if the need for a cinema was so great someone would be restoring the Capitol in FH as most of the infrastructure exists. As previously stated if the high street is to be maintained then perhaps a proviso for out of town retail should carry a subsidy charge for in town shops? Like it or not people shop with cars be they private or taxis having no parking facilities that are convenient is a big drawback. Maybe an indoor market could be established with erected stalls and different offers on different days, bric a brac/ antiques on sundays, vegetables/ groceries, thurs/fri etc.
So if any objectors can only spout Government policy and it does not work does that mean possibly the policy is wrong or should we just enforce it? Personally there is a severe shortage of housing for older single people who want social housing (according to Lewisham Homes) so flats would be great and given the proximity to the high street, shopping would be easy and sustain the high street.

Again positive suggestions rather than dogma would seem to be the answer.


My confusion has always be caused by the vast gap in requirements vs available space in the old Budgens site.

The square footage falls very short of the requirements of the proposed store.
As well as @Wynell mentions, method of transport. Look at ANY Lidl or Aldi site and you will see one of the biggest issues has always been parking.
With that in mind it would almost be irresponsible of either company to use the existing site for such a store.

With regards to the gas holders. We all hold on to something precious to us, I have many memories is staring in awe at the holders, but times change. The rest of the site is already a large, busy retail site. Surely it has been zoned in such a way, and the traffic management installed to serve it. Rarely are there queues in the road leading into it.

I’m confused by the constant demand for more and more housing, jamming people into smaller and smaller spaces, but the rejection of services to support the growing population.
I have great respect for carefully thought out planning, but it seems more and more that decisions are being made based on a fixed policy, rather than site by site consideration. All seems very hit and miss.

I am sure the old Budgens site has potential for something, but medium sized food retailer seems a tough case to argue. Maybe someone would consider getting a Nisa franchise in there?

Going back to @Wynell post, the conversion to housing would also be a good idea surely.


A point of information: there is a large free car park right beside the old Co-op / Budgens site.