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Brecknock Road Nisa's opening party turns to farce as demonstrators picket 'unlawful' shop on site of Leighton Arms pub

PUBLISHED: 13:00 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:34 25 September 2018

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

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Protesters picketed an "unlawful" Kentish Town supermarket at the shop's poorly received opening party on Friday.

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily WebberThe protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

Nisa controversially opened in Brecknock Road in June on the site of the old Leighton Arms – despite an enforcement notice from Camden planners giving developer Bryanston Investments until October 27 to turn the building back into a pub or contest the ruling.

Bryanston confirmed it has submitted an appeal.

Planning permission had been granted for flats above the site, but on the understanding the pub should stay.

While Bryanston argue the changes to the building were made under permitted development rules, this was not accepted by Camden Council.

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily WebberThe protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

Senior Camden councillors including mayor Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells and communities chief Cllr Danny Beales have separately accused the firm of “running roughshod” over the community.

Nonetheless, the store was adorned with balloons last week for an opening bash that took a farcical turn when protesters from the “Save Leighton Arms – Stop Nisa” group were offered pastries by store workers. The snacks were refused.

Meanwhile Cllr Jenny Headlam-Wells reiterated her objections in a fresh speech to the campaigners, calling for neighbours to support the shops of Kentish Town and unite against Nisa.

The group stood outside with placards to put off potential shoppers from participating in the raffle or face painting that had been advertised on social media.

Nisa in Kentish Town's poorly received opening party. Picture: Emily WebberNisa in Kentish Town's poorly received opening party. Picture: Emily Webber

Neither the shop’s manager nor staff would comment when asked about the protest by the Ham&High.

Demonstrator Josephine Siedlecka, who lives nearby, said: “We are trying to attract attention to the fact this shop is here illegally.

“They don’t have planning permission and they are riding roughshod over Camden Council’s planning regulations.”

She added traffic has become a dangerous issue with delivery lorries blocking Brecknock Road and Torriano Avenue during the school run.

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily WebberThe protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

Sandhya Choudhury, who owns Susan’s mini-mart with her husband Sofiul Alam, fears their business may close down because of Nisa’s cheaper prices.

She said: “We are losing nearly two to three hundred pounds a day.”

If the supermarket remains open, she said: “We will be shut down and will have to walk out.”

Ozkam Kop, owner of Leighton Food Centre, even blamed the supermarket for fuelling anti-social behaviour in the area.

The protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily WebberThe protest outside Nisa in Kentish Town. Picture: Emily Webber

He said: “The community is becoming a worse place. It is becoming more divided.”

Dee Searle, co-chair of Camden Green Party, told the Ham&High: “Local shops are local – that’s the nature of them. With a chain, if their mood changes, or if they think it’s not a very promising place, they can go and then you are left with empty premises.”

Martin Cramer, director of Bryanston Investments, told us: “We have through our lawyers put in an appeal. We are contesting what’s been said. and the community has in fact been very welcoming of the store.” 
In a previous statement made in June, Mr Cramer said: “We are surprised by the […] mayor of Camden, who [appears] to have decided to act before the due planning process has been allowed to run its course.”

He added: “For the record, both ourselves and our leaseholders are small, local, family-run businesses that have served our community for many decades and are, and continue to be, rate payers within the London Borough of Camden.

“We believe we have acted in good faith at all times and within the law and are currently working with Camden’s planning officers to resolve the position.”

Referring to the “running roughshod” accusation from Cllr Beales, Mr Cramer added: “We feel this statement, along with other councillors’ statements, are extremely inflammatory and unhelpful in resolving the situation. Once the proper planning process has been allowed to conclude, we look forward to addressing all the councillors’ allegations.”

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