Gazette letters: Sainsbury’s rejected, Finsbury Leisure Centre and Sotheby Mews

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

Neighbours with Cllr Caroline Russell, centre, protesting against Sainsbury's last year. Picture: DIETER PERRY - Credit: Archant

With regard to the rejection of the appeal in the planning application for a Sainsbury’s Local in Blackstock Road (“Sainsbury’s sent packing as Blackstock Road store appeal is rejected”, Gazette) we see a small step in the right direction, writes Mike Crowson, Islington Green Party.

Firstly, in future more of our local cash will be kept within the local community, instead of going out of our community as profit for a large organisation.

In the second place the Planning Inspector sided with local protesters’ concerns about the effect of many more delivery lorries proving a real hazard to pedestrians, cyclists other road users on a steep and crowded hill.

The Green Party supports the development of local economies, seeks the growth of walking and cycling and opposes unnecessary traffic.

We also listen to community concerns and it is no coincidence that Green Party councillor Caroline Russell has been part of the protest movement against this application from the start.

As a resident of EC1 and a regular user of the Finsbury Leisure Centre for the past 10 years, I was initially pleased to hear Islington Council plans to upgrade the already overstretched sports facilities, writes Gotam Saral, address supplied.

However, it turns out the redevelopment of the centre involves reducing the facilities to make way for the building of a large gated community next to the St Luke’s Garden conservation area.

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EC1 is massively overpopulated already. How is a smaller leisure centre supposed to cater for the hundreds more new residents that would be brought into the area?

All the details of the building plans are conspicuous by their absence in the general publicity, but anyone can check the facts for themselves by looking at the documents published online by Islington Council.

The big block of flats would be privately owned, going at a million pounds or more each, while only a small percentage would be affordable housing [see town hall response below]. Despite how it has been advertised, the redevelopment of the Finsbury Leisure Centre has nothing to do with improving or expanding the facilities. It is clearly just a profit-making exercise.

I for one don’t want to see the Finsbury Leisure Centre turned into a small scale hi-tech boot camp for rich City corporate managers. The facilities should be expanded and improved to serve the local community and workers and be of a proportionate size for the number of users. I don’t want to see St Luke’s Garden become an overcrowded front lawn for owners of ghost homes and Airbnb apartments instead of the communal haven of peace and tranquillity it has always been.

• A town hall spokesman responds: At least half the new homes will be council homes. We will have to build and sell some private homes, but this is not a profit-making venture: every penny from the sale of private homes will be re-invested back into council housing and improved community facilities on the site. The development will not be gated, and the new private homes will be indistinguishable from the council homes.

Sotheby Mews Day Centre is a vital part of the community. It is a major contributory factor in the health and well-being of older people in Islington now and in the future, writes the daughter of a Sotheby Mews Day Centre user, name supplied.

I am representing my 94-year-old mother who has been attending Sotheby for over 25 years. It, without doubt, has kept her going in every way. She looks forward to meeting friends, enjoying the company. She has lunches every day and, as she is unable to get about, is brought to and from the centre by transport. On occasion in the past, when my mother has been unable to attend, perhaps through illness, she couldn’t wait to get back to the centre and so it was the spur and incentive to a much speedier and full recovery.

For older people who cannot get out of their homes, it is a lifeline. Without it, they would be isolated and their health would deteriorate. With the centre, they are able to meet people, have that so essential social interaction, lunches every day and transport to bring them there and back, and enjoy good quality of life.

For the younger, more able pensioners and over-55s, the vast range of activities, including keep fit, pilates, arts and crafts, are guaranteeing they will keep healthier and more active for longer into the future. Again, an important reason to keep Sotheby open.The amenities at Sotheby also include day trips to the coast and other places of interest. The functions to mark special occasions ensure that members remain an active part of our society.

The proposed new premises is much smaller and so many of the facilities available at Sotheby will be denied them. This will lead to many older people having to stay at home and therefore be isolated and other people having nowhere to go for all the activities.

The closure of Sotheby is a false economy as it will cause deterioration in health for many older people now and into the future and will also affect family and friends, who will have to become carers, and the health services which will have to bear the cost. So many people in the Islington community will be unfavourably affected by this proposed closure.

It is short-sighted and shows a complete lack of care and understanding of the needs of the elderly now and in the future. As the population ages, Islington Council should be opening more of these centres.