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Sainsbury’s sent packing as Blackstock Road store appeal is rejected

PUBLISHED: 15:07 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 25 October 2017

Neighbours with Cllr Caroline Russell, centre, protesting against Sainsbury's last year. Picture: Dieter Perry

Neighbours with Cllr Caroline Russell, centre, protesting against Sainsbury's last year. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

Campaigners have defeated Sainsbury’s in a David-versus-Goliath battle over a new store in Blackstock Road.

Protesters outside the old Highbury Vale police station in Blackstock Road last year. Picture: Dieter PerryProtesters outside the old Highbury Vale police station in Blackstock Road last year. Picture: Dieter Perry

The supermarket giant wanted to open a “Local” store in the old Highbury Vale police station building but the independent Planning Inspectorate has today rejected its appeal.

Neighbours who have been fighting plans every step of the way are over the moon. They believed the store would take trade away from local businesses and argued an “impact assessment” did not take into account the fact there was already an identical store on the same road, because it was on the other side – in Hackney.

Sainsbury’s appealed after Islington planners rejected the application in February, saying the store would “adversely impact the vibrancy of Finsbury Park town centre” and delivery lorries would cause congestion.

There were fears within the community that the plans would be granted, but inspector Claire Victory said: “I have found that the proposal [...] 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.”

But she added the new store would not have harmed “the vitality and viability of the Finsbury Park town centre”.

Arsenal Wine store owner Hitesh Patel disagreed with her on that. He said the family run business would be forced to close after 35 years if Sainsbury’s opened and has welcomed the news.

He told the Gazette: “We are extremely happy. We are pleased that common sense has prevailed and that the local businesses can continue to operate without the threat of another Sainsbury’s.

“This has dragged on long enough and now we hope that we can all move forward. We do hope the development currently under construction can be turned into something much needed which can support the local community.”

He quipped: “We only hope they don’t appeal to the Prime Minister as they seem to want to keep on appealing.”

Highbury East’s Cllr Caroline Russell, who has been on the front line of the campaign against the supermarket from the start, said: “The appeal judge rightly realised that more big delivery lorries would be bad for the local area and has sent Sainsbury’s packing.

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

“This decision will protect the diversity of local shops in Blackstock Road and 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 representation to the planning process should feel proud of a job well done.”

Town hall development chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward also welcomed the decision. He said: “We’re very pleased the Planning Inspector has dismissed the appeal against our refusal.

“We had concerns about the highway safety of loading and unloading at the site, and also the impact of the proposals on the nearby Finsbury Park town centre.

“I’d like to thank local residents for all the views and feedback they have given about this application.”

What do you think? Email gazette.letters@archant.co.uk.

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