I think this is something we probably have to agree to disagree on.
I do not think there was too much food provision in the area. M&S opened (one of their first Simply Food stores) confident there was enough of a market. Just a few years ago Waitrose moved into the area confident there was enough of a market; after all no-one is going to open a store if there is a chance there won’t be enough takings to stay open. (And I don’t think M&S is at the top of the “supermarket tree”, and would have put Waitrose higher, though that is a matter of opinion.)
The change in Balham is down to the recession. Part of my job is to be ambitious for our town centres, so I am obviously disappointed when the seem to be moving in the wrong direction. None of our Town Centre Partnership have visions which include encouraging cheap or discount stores. Indeed, all the correspondence and discussions I have had with businesses and residents have expressed disappointment when they have moved in.
I don’t see this as some anti-discount store issue either, I often use Poundland in the Southside shopping centre, for example. But we are going to have a real problem in what looks like being a lengthy recession if companies are collapsing or closing stores and the only things that are moving in are discount stores.