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Sainsbury’s isn’t Local – we are, say Blackstock Road campaigners

PUBLISHED: 17:35 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:02 20 December 2016

Neighbours protest the latest Sainsbury's application for the old Highbury Vale police station in Blackstock Road. Picture: Dieter Perry

Neighbours protest the latest Sainsbury's application for the old Highbury Vale police station in Blackstock Road. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

“Go away, Sainbury’s” was the defiant message from dozens of protesters who gathered outside Highbury Vale police station on Sunday.

Cllr Caroline Russell, front, and neighbours protest the latest Sainsbury's application for the old Highbury Vale police station in Blackstock Road. Picture: Dieter Perry Cllr Caroline Russell, front, and neighbours protest the latest Sainsbury's application for the old Highbury Vale police station in Blackstock Road. Picture: Dieter Perry

More than 50 homeowners and traders turned out to carry the fight to the supermarket giants who are looking to open a Local branch in the listed Blackstock Road building.

The company sparked a backlash this summer when it made the application, and that has been reignited after a retail impact assessment was submitted.

The developer has planning permission for a gym on the site but now wants to change that to open the store. Sainsbury’s says it has not, despite claims, applied to change the size of the unit.

Anyone thinking “isn’t there already a Sainbury’s Local in Blackstock Road?” is correct. But as that’s less than half a mile away on the other side of the road, and technically in Hackney, it was all but ignored in a “retail impact assessment” funded by Sainsbury’s.

That also failed to address the “retail impact” on similar businesses a stone’s throw away from the site – which has notedly been given a lick of orange paint recently.

Campaigner Christian Spurrier, of the Islington Green Party, said: “This report bypasses the future store’s impact on the immediate community by pretending this immediate community doesn’t exist, or refusing to acknowledge it, and that is a large part of local frustration.

“The report also claims that this future Sainsbury’s Local will increase consumer choice - but this is really stretching the truth, because the reality is it is merely adding a Sainsbury’s Local to an area that already has one.”

Hitesh Patel runs Arsenal Wines, yards from the site. His family has owned the shop for more than 35 years, but Hitesh knows the shop won’t survive should Sainsbury’s move in.

Sainsbury’s say the store will create 20 jobs and could increase footfall for nearby shops.

Islington Council is consulting on the proposals for the store until Tuesday. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition against it, in addition to the 2,500 who opposed it when it was first proposed in 2014.

The town hall said the RIA would be assessed “thoroughly” by planning officers before any decision is made and has urged people to submit any concerns here, using planning reference P2016/1249/S73.0.

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