Campaign to save popular Barnsbury store is launched

A popular shopkeeper and his customers have been left devastated by plans to convert a much-loved off-licence into flats.

Des McDaniel, 62, has been running Islington Wines in Liverpool Road, Barnsbury for the past 23 years and only found out about the proposals when a letter from the council detailing the planning application landed on his doormat last week.

Angry locals have now launched a campaign opposing the application for one two-bedroom maisonettes, two one-bedroom flats and a new two bedroom house fronting Lofting Road. A petition to save the shop has already gathered more than 200 signatures.

News that the 70-year-old independent shop in the conservation area is under threat has come as a double blow to Mr McDaniel, who only returned to work several weeks ago after undergoing major surgery on his voice box. He told the Gazette the proposals have left him “devastated” due to his love of the job and the people in the area.

Employee Jahanzaib Khan, one of three other members of staff, said: “We are very unhappy and so are the customers. Everybody knows Des, from five years old to all ages.”

If the planning application gets the go-ahead, Islington Wines would be the third independent store in the area to close in the past two years.

Resident Pamela Brown said: “Everybody I’ve spoken to is up in arms about this, particularly as Des is so loved and adored by the community.

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“Children have grown up knowing him and he never has any trouble with gangs as everybody knows and respects him so much.

“I hardly never buy alcohol but I always go in to say hello and get the day’s news. Des and his shop is the only bit of community we have left – without it we have nothing.”

Another customer, Daniel Bevan, 27, said: “Des is a character of the local area. This is what you would expect to find in a small village or rural town, but it is very rare in London.”

Local architect Chris Pring said: “I’ve been coming here for 20-something years – not only is the shop convenient, but Des makes it special.’’

The planning application, which is under consultation until September 13, also comprises a roof extension and a single storey rear extension, and various other alterations.