Shoppers and businesses defend ‘endangered’ Blackstock Road against Sainsbury’s

Shoppers and business owners outside the former Highbury Vale Police Station in Blackstock Road, whe

Shoppers and business owners outside the former Highbury Vale Police Station in Blackstock Road, where Sainsbury's is seeking to build a convenience store. Picture: John Macdonald-Fulton - Credit: John M Fulton

Shoppers and business owners are fighting to save the soul of Blackstock Road - as the “threat” of another Sainsbury’s looms.

From naan bread shops to florists, Blackstock Road, which stretches from Highbury to Finsbury Park, is famous for its range of independent businesses.

But many fear it will be overtaken by chain stores. It comes as the supermarket giant seeks to build a second Sainsbury’s Local in Blackstock Road - the latest at the former Highbury Vale Police Station. A group gathered outside the site this afternoon to voice their opposition.

A few doors up the road, Yucel Yavuz has been joint manager of the Arsenal Supermarket since 2003. He said: “There’s a housing crisis in London, but you would think there’s a Sainsbury’s crisis, that they must build as many Sainsbury’s stores as possible to end this emergency.

“Our sales will be seriously affected. It’s a massive company and we can’t match them. You can see lots of chains popping up at the Finsbury Park end of Blackstock Road, like Costa and Sainsbury’s. It’s bland, nothing unique, and we fear it will spread.”

Nicolette Jones, of Plimsoll Road, Finsbury Park, has shopped in Blackstock Road for the past 21 years. She said: “We have fantastic individual businesses around here and it’s a great shopping experience.

“With chains like Sainsbury’s, that will be endangered. The independents recycle money back into the community. With chains, it goes to fat cats far away from Blackstock Road.”

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Oliver Sylvester-Bradley, of Hurlock Street, Highbury, added: “There’s no national chains in this street - at the moment. The sense of community is important and Sainsbury’s will kill that. This element of Blackstock Road will just become another part of clone town Britain.”

A separate developer originally had planning permission to turn the ground floor of the building, vacated in 2012, into a gym with shop units. But Sainsbury’s has applied to Islington Council for it to be a shop only.

In planning documents, Sainsbury’s agent Turley said: “It does not follow that a significant number of shoppers who shop at the proposed Sainsbury’s store will suddenly stop visiting other facilities in the centre. It is too limited in scale to function as a ‘one stop shop’ facility.”

See next week’s Gazette for more photos and analysis.

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