Reduced plans for a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Stoke Newington were overwhelmingly opposed at a meeting called on Tuesday night by Stokey Local, the campaign group that was set up last year to oppose the development. Over 70 people, including local MP Diane Abbott, attended the meeting. Abbott said that she was merely there “to listen”
The proposed site is bordered on one side by Abney Cemetery (the trees can be seen to the left of the picture) and on another by a row of Victorian shops on Stoke Newington High Street. Initial proposals would have required the demolition of some shops to allow for access to an underground car-park. Planning permission was turned down on conservation grounds.
The new plan does away with all car parking and access from the High Street would now be pedestrian only. The façades of the shops would be retained to provide an entrance to the store that is in keeping with the rest of the conservation area. However the meeting learned that 7-8 articulated trucks would still need to access the store every day entering down Church Street and turning into Wilmer Place.
Concern was expressed about the likelihood of traffic jams in a street that barely allows buses to pass each other, the danger to cyclists, the effect on the pavement cafes, and the fact that the pavements of Wilmer Place would have to be removed to allow access. It was also pointed out that the 100 parking places currently provided on the site, and used by people who work in the locality, would disappear and not be replaced. This would in turn mean that the cars would be parked on side turnings that are already very crowded. Add to that the cars attached to the 68 new flats that are to be built on the site and parking problems are likely to increase dramatically.
A resident of the ‘live work’ units that currently occupy the site did not want to give her name: “The developers are my landlords” she said, “I don’t want to annoy them”. She and her husband occupy one of 44 units that are currently used for a variety of occupations: design studios, photographic studios, an antiques business, a cleaning company and an animatronics company. It is also the parking place for Zip Vans and Cars which are used by the increasing number of people locally who do not own their own cars.
“We know the site needs development and that we will lose our home, but it should be something of value to the community,” she said. She has no idea where she will end up because: “There are no other affordable live/work units in the area”.
Local campaigner, Lucy McDowell told the meeting that she had surveyed the local shops. Of 34 she approached, five did not want to be involved, of the other 29, only one expressed support for a Sainsbury’s store.
It is the impact on the street that clearly concerned most people. Stoke Newington is unusual in having a thriving local retail economy boasting independent green grocers, butchers, fishmongers and bakers. Campaigners were concerned that a supermarket would be able to reduce prices and force out other local shops.
Plans were made for further action including a letter writing campaign. For more information about the campaign and how you can get involved contact Stokey Local.