And, no, it's not going to be turned into luxury flats
Picture: Google Streetview
August 24, 2020
Following the recent news that the branch of Debenhams in the iconic Clapham Junction department store Arding & Hobbs has not reopened after lockdown, the building’s new owners have started laying out proposals for the site.
W.RE, a London-based property development and asset management company, bought the building in 2018 from British Land Co for a reported £48 million. While the new owner has yet to submit formal plans for the store, it has said that it will develop the 97,000 square foot store for mixed use retail and high-end office space.
W.RE is also saying it will be sensitive to the building’s history as a local landmark and will look to maintain this status with careful restoration and possible additions.
The Wandsworth Society - a local charity that promotes the preservation, development and improvement of buildings and amenities in Wandsworth for the public benefit – said, “Sadly an icon of Clapham Junction since 1885 will not re-open after the lock down closure and the store is now boarded up.”
According to Historic England, the firm Arding & Hobbs actually started as a drapery shop in Wandsworth High Street in 1867, moving to the more prestigious Clapham Junction site in the early 1900s, after the original buildings on the plot were destroyed in a fire in 1909.
The current buildings, which were built in 1910 in Edwardian Baroque style,
were the largest and grandest department store built south of the Thames.
Allders ran the store from the 1970s until the group went into administration and was subsequently broken up and sold in 2005. Arding & Hobbs was then divided into branches of Debenhams and TK Maxx, which is still trading on the site.
The Clapham Junction Action Group https://cjag.org/ points out on its website: “This is a very important moment for Clapham Junction – it’s our landmark building, and as the largest unit apart from Asda it’s also a flagship part of the trade of the town centre – even in Debenhams’ most troubled stage, having a major store that sold a lot of things here was important in attracting shoppers to the town centre as a whole, and a lot of the smaller and independent businesses nearby benefitted from this.
“TK Maxx and Boots are understandably popular, but every local town centre has one – but only Clapham Junction had a department store!”