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Sainsbury's bid to open in Highbury Vale Police Station is rejected for a FOURTH time

PUBLISHED: 10:36 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:42 22 May 2019

Protesters outside the old Highbury Vale Police Station, in Blackstock Road earlier this year after Sainsbury's appealed for a second time. Picture: Shanei Stephenson-Harris

Protesters outside the old Highbury Vale Police Station, in Blackstock Road earlier this year after Sainsbury's appealed for a second time. Picture: Shanei Stephenson-Harris

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Sainsbury's has had its bid to open a store in the old Highbury Vale Police Station building rejected for a fourth time.

Neighbours protesting the latest Sainsbury's application in 2016. Picture: Dieter PerryNeighbours protesting the latest Sainsbury's application in 2016. Picture: Dieter Perry

The persistent supermarket appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in February after Islington Council planners knocked back their second application to open a Local store on the site last year.

It had already tried and failed to go down the appeal route once, and local shopkeepers, campaigners and politicians who have held huge protests opposing the store will now be hoping its bosses have got the message.

Unsurprisingly, the Inspectorate said the impact the store would have on traffic and parking in the area due to deliveries was still a key reason for rejecting the plans.

Officers also highlighted the effect the development would have on trees.

Cllr Caroline Russell, who has campaigned against the store since the first application went in. Picture: Dieter PerryCllr Caroline Russell, who has campaigned against the store since the first application went in. Picture: Dieter Perry

Shops in the area said they would be put out of business by the arrival of a second Sainbury's Local store in the road. The existing Local branch half-a-mile away on the other side of Blackstock Road is technically in Hackney, and therefore wasn't acknowledged in an "impact assessment" outlining how the store would affect the Finsbury Park area.

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But Hitesh Patel, whose family has owned Arsenal Wine for more than 35 years, said it would certainly close as it couldn't compete with prices.

Today, another worker in the shop told the Gazette: "It's very good news for local businesses. When these shops open you can't compete with them. It didn't make any difference to them that no-one wanted it to open."

The battle has been ongoing since Sainsbury's first announced the plans in 2015. Two huge protests have taken place, the first in December 2016 and the second in March this year.

Sainsbury's, whose slogan for six years was "try something new today", submitted almost identical plans for both applications, and insisted the store would create 20 jobs and increase footfall to the area. The Inspectorate concluded that may be true, but it didn't outweigh the harm caused by increased traffic.

Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) told the Gazette: "It's incredibly exciting that they have turned down application. It's taken the community banding together over years to fight off and it's a testimony to all the energy and campaigning effort from a mix of residents and shopkeepers who really care about Blackstock Road. I think Sainsbury's need to get the message that its model of predatory supermarkets is not welcome in a local high street where independent shops are serving their local residents incredibly well."

Highbury East's Cllr Sue Lukes, who has been involved in the campaign, added: "This is fantastic news for our community and I want to thank everyone for their hard work, particularly the many residents who joined me in opposing this unwanted and unnecessary application and the subsequent appeals.

"It's now essential the owners of the site talk to the community about what we want from the site and to ensure that this benefits our local community to the fullest."

Jeremy Corbyn has also spoken out against the plans. He joined councillors in writing to the Planning Inspectorate ahead of the latest appeal.

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