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Traders’ joy as store is ‘sent packing’

Planning inspector backs protesters who fought Sainsbury’s bid to open in former cop shop

20 October, 2017 — By Chloe Livadeas, Joe Cooper

Campaigners outside the former police station in December last year

SAINSBURY’S has been defeated in its attempts to open a new branch in Blackstock Road after a planning inspector blocked the move.

The supermarket’s bid to open a Sainsbury’s Local store in the former Highbury Vale police station has stretched back over a three-year planning battle, with residents, businesses and councillors opposed.

Islington Council rejected the proposals, leading to an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which has also come down against Sainsbury’s.

The application has caused uproar in the area, with campaigners fearing Blackstock Road, home to many independent, family-run businesses, would be hit. There are already two Local branches nearby, with one just 300 metres away.

The Town Hall refused permission for the new store in February because of safety concerns over proposed loading and unloading arrangements, and the potential impact on local shops.

In her appeal decision, planning inspector Claire Victory said: “I have found that the proposal would not harm the vitality and viability of the Finsbury Park town centre, but it would have a materially adverse effect on highway safety, due to inadequate servicing arrangements. Consequently, it would be contrary to the development plan as a whole.”

Shop worker Hassan Koca: ‘Local businesses are not just businesses.’

Trader Pritesh Patel, at Arsenal Wines, said: “It’s great news. I’m very happy it’s not going ahead. The reasons they’ve given for refusing it were surprising. They said it won’t have an adverse impact on local businesses and diversification, which is rubbish.”

But refusal on the grounds of highway safety risk left open the possibility of another application, he feared. “When you’ve got big corporations versus small businesses that are already struggling, it’s like David versus Goliath,” Mr Patel said.

David Galligan, 42, who works at greengrocer White Brothers, said of Sainsbury’s store bid: “They’ve already got one 200 yards down the road. They’re just trying to kill all the businesses in between.”

“It’s good news if it stays this way. I’m sure it’s a case of watch this space and they’ll come back next year like they have done for the last three years.”

Hassan Koca, 35, who works at Sari Cicek Supermarket, said: “Local businesses are not just businesses. People can come by here and leave their keys, things like that. You could never do that with Sainsbury’s.”

Green Party councillor Caroline Russell welcomed a ruling which “sent Sainsbury’s packing”.

“Small businesses are the engine of a resilient local economy,” she said. “Local shopkeepers and residents have fought long and hard to keep Sainsbury’s out.

“This decision will protect the diversity of local shops on Blackstock Road and will mean that people walking
and cycling will not have to put up with the risks from extra delivery lorries.

“It’s the right decision and all those who campaigned and submitted representations to the planning process should feel proud of a job well done.”

Housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward was “very pleased” with the decision.

Sainsbury’s had claimed up to 20 jobs would be created by the new shop. It said that new stores often result in higher, not lower, footfall for shops nearby.

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