Fonthill Road traders say constant flow of lorries for City North work is forcing them out of business
PUBLISHED: 10:16 15 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:28 15 November 2017
Traders in a historic Finsbury Park shopping street say business has plummeted in the last year because of lorries coming and going all day to work on a major development.
Fonthill Road used to be a buzzing stretch of independent fashion stores. But since work began on the station’s huge City North development last year, sales have nosedived. On top of that, business rates shot up in April. One shop has closed, with two more leaving when their lease runs out next month.
Andrew Pachalis of Andrial has been selling clothes in the road for 21 years after taking over from his father. His sales are down 40 per cent.
“The road has become a building site,” he told the Gazette. “We’ve got masses of lorries parking wherever they like.
“With extortionate business rates and City North causing massive disruption, what was once one of the best fashion streets in London is now being brushed aside mercilessly. Livelihoods are being ruined and no one seems to care.”
Islington Council says it has secured a five-year freeze in rateable values for some traders from the government, meaning their rates won’t go up again. But it has no power to freeze or reduce rates itself, as Andrew has asked for in a written letter.
He says at the very least lorries should be banned from parking in the street. “We need to do something,” he said. “We need better control of these lorries – parking needs to be off-site. We’re coming to the end of our tether. From 6.30am they are blocking the road off. If it carries on by the time it’s finished 60 or 70pc of these shops won’t be here.”
Andrew is also aware that when City North is finished, remaining shops will have new, upmarket businesses to contend with.
Islington Council said it wanted to help the traders and would be giving them specialist business support. The Finsbury Park lights will also be switched on in the street on December 1.
Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s economic development boss, said: “Fonthill Road is an amazing part of Islington – it’s rightly famous for fashion retail, and there’s nowhere else like it.
“It has been hit hard because of the closure of the Wells Terrace exit, and councillors and Jeremy Corbyn continue to fight for traders who have lost out.
“We have also strongly challenged City North and TfL on disruption caused to businesses and secured a management plan to control construction traffic.”