Hazellville Road supermarket tackling kids’ obesity one apple at a time is told: Your stall is illegal
PUBLISHED: 15:43 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:37 26 June 2017
A generous shopkeeper giving free fruit to kids every morning has been told by planning chiefs to rip down the decking where he lays it out.
"We just wanted to encourage the kids to have a healthy snack as they go to school in the morning. Otherwise, what are they going to eat? Crisps, sweets and chocolate"
Jay Palanci, who co-owns Express Supermarket in Hazellville Road, Hornsey Rise, has been doing his bit to beat childhood obesity in Islington for two years.
He built some wooden decking to give him somewhere to store the fruit, saying the shop itself wasn’t big enough to cater for all the kids who pass by.
But when Islington Council got a complaint from a neighbour, officers realised he didn’t have planning permission. He applied retrospectively but was turned down, with the council saying it was “badly designed, with poor quality materials”, as well as bigger than neighbouring shops.
“We just wanted to encourage the kids to have a healthy snack as they go to school in the morning,” Jay told the Gazette. “Otherwise, what are they going to eat? Crisps, sweets and chocolate. Everyone knows child obesity has risen.
“The parents love it. The teachers from local schools pass by and thank us for doing it. The kids love it. The council just came out of nowhere telling us to take it down. We are trying to do good for kids – councils should be supporting businesses like us. We pay horrendous rates.”
Jay’s plight has become a cause celebre, with 500 parents signing a petition he laid out.
Irene Bryant, whose six-year-old son Anthony gets his fruit fill from Express Supermarket on the way to Ashmount Primary School every morning, said: “It’s just amazing. In the morning, Anthony is always excited to leave the house because he knows he’s going to get some fruit.
“It’s horrible the council would make them take this down. I don’t think this is interfering with the pavement in any way. Everyone would be gutted. It’s a true family shop that is here for its community.”
A council spokesman said: “Unfortunately, this shop owner extended his shopfront without planning permission. Following a complaint from a member of the public, we opened a planning enforcement investigation.
“The shop owner sought retrospective planning permission, and there were a number of letters of objection and support. However, the application was refused by council officers under delegated powers.”