Southfields residents win first round against property developers trying to convert small shops into flats - but the fight's not over yet

Thousands of south-west London residents are celebrating after winning a reprieve for their “urban village” - and shoring up the value of their homes.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition objecting to the proposed loss of their local deli, antiques shop and hairdresser in Southfields, and begging Wandsworth council planners to protect the “heart and soul” of their community.

More than 300 locals wrote individual letters of objection to the authority.

Now Wandsworth has ruled that property developers seeking to convert a row of independent shops in Wimbledon Park Road, Southfields, into flats will not be able to use increasingly controversial powers granted by the Government to change the use of the site without need for planning consent.

Tim Cronin, the council’s assistant director of planning and development, said the proposals would “harm the sustainability” of the Southfields high street.

Michelle Koretz, who organised the petition, said housing was needed in the area but claimed the new flats would “likely be unaffordable for locals” — particularly those who would lose their jobs if the small businesses affected were forced to close.

A recent study by estate agent Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward suggested that property in a London “village”, of which local independent shops are a vital ingredient, can attract a premium of up to £200,000.

According to data from Rightmove an average property in the Southfields area now costs £745,000, up 33 per cent over the last five years. Family houses with four or five bedrooms cost well over £1 million.

The council’s decision does not mark an automatic end to Wimbledon-based Golfrate’s plans for the site. It is still free to apply for planning consent for its project. City Hall says more than 15 million square feet of office space has been converted into flats since 2013.

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