Editor’s comment: What will it take to get rid of Sainsbury’s?

People protesting outside the Old Highbury Vale Police Station, in Blackstock Road, against Sainsbur

People protesting outside the Old Highbury Vale Police Station, in Blackstock Road, against Sainsbury's fourth attempt to open a store there. Picture: SHANEI STEPHENSON-HARRIS - Credit: Archant

Unexpected item in the bagging area? We should be so lucky: Sainsbury’s latest proposal to open a shop in Blackstock Road is as predictable as discounted pumpkins on November 1, and even less fresh.

What appeared to be a benign purveyor of over-packaged vegetables has revealed itself as a corporate bully, seemingly hoping to wear down legal and neighbourly objections to its plans by simply submitting them over and over again until everyone gets bored or makes a mistake.

Whatever your personal views on the proposed shop at Highbury Vale police station, it’s hard not to feel the supermarket giant should take the hint(s) and know when it’s not wanted. This doesn’t seem, to me, to be one of those cases where a couple of nimbys shout louder than a silent majority – there have been large protests on the site, one of them in the rain, and both Islington Council and the Planning Inspectorate have sent it packing. And yet it keeps repeating on us.

Either the old police station was built on top of a gold mine that only Sainsbury’s knows about, or this has developed into little more than a point of pride: it will keep applying for planning permission simply because it can, and its cynical bean counters know no amount of ill will or threatened boycotts will harm its fortunes in the long term: people forget, move house, need a baguette at short notice, and gradually the shop is accepted and the protest a distant memory. It is as depressing as it is likely.

And, to be fair to Sainsbury’s, no one else appears to have any plans for the site: perhaps its owner should get on and actually develop it into something.

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Or perhaps the chain, which already has a perfectly good shop a few hundred yards down the road, should “try something new today” – and invest its time and money in something else.

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