Developers of the controversial proposed Sainsbury’s site in Stoke Newington have rejected criticisms that it would physically dominate the local landscape.
Newmark Property Investments, the developers of the site in Wilmer Place, said the building – criticised last week by some residents as a “stinking lump” which would loom over the Grade II listed gates of Abney Park Cemetery – was a “high quality design.”
The company said: “The plans have changed considerably during two rounds of consultation involving residents and businesses, with retention of historic High Street frontages and a reduction in the size of the development as major alterations. The proposals now represent a high quality design which responds sensitively to the streetscape at this end of Stoke Newington High Street.”
In a separate statement to Eastlondonlines, Greg Cohen, a director of the company, said claims Newmark had ‘buried’ an image of the proposals for a supermarket, car park [see correction below] and residential development in documents submitted as part of the planning application were incorrect.
The photograph, which was unearthed by Bernard Bourdillon, an ex- town planner and Stoke Newington resident who has campaigned against the development, was not used in either of the public exhibitions related to the development.
However, Cohen said it was not intentionally hidden: “The image appears twice in the Design and Access statement and has been available on LB Hackney’s website to view for over four months with unrestricted access to anyone interested.”
Cohen also said the image supplied to ELL by Bourdillon had been heavily cropped: “[It] fails to show the plans in the proper context of the local streetscape as the image from the ‘Design and Access statement’ itself clearly does.”
The original picture has been used in this article to clarify the building’s position within its surroundings.
Critics of the development have argued from the beginning that it will affect long-standing independent shops in the area and damage the natural environment. One local business owner called it a “big, stinking, horrible lump.”
Cohen stressed that the benefits of a Sainsbury’s at Wilmer Place must not be overlooked: “The plans not only provide 70 new homes with 31 per cent high quality affordable dwellings for local people, but will also inject significant new ecology benefits in Abney Park itself including new tree and shrub planting and a boundary wall treatment which enhances the remarkable biodiversity of the park.”
Cohen added: “There is considerable support amongst local businesses in and around Stoke Newington High Street for the increased footfall and new investment which the development brings to this part of the high street.”
He said a survey of local businesses suggested that half of those spoken to backed the plans. However, Newmark said they were unable to supply more details of their research as more sampling work was required.
The developers also said the design of the scheme, by Stirling Prize winning architects AHMM, has been widely supported by planning and urban design officers at Hackney.
But Kirsten Foster and Kate Harding, trustees of Abney Park, rejected Cohen’s assurances: “We don’t see the developers’ current plan for Wilmer Place as making any positive contribution to the future of Abney Park. Their suggestion that their plans will enhance biodiversity, we believe, shows a worrying lack of understanding of Abney Park’s delicate ecology.”
Russell Miller, a freelance tree specialist who deals with Abney Park, added: “I am not aware of any new tree and shrub planting that benefits Abney. If they are referring to proposed new boundary planting on the Wilmer Place side then this will be dark, shaded (by the new building) and not compensate for the current, sunny, open, woodland edge habitat, let alone improve anything”.
Newmark Properties formally submitted their proposals to the council in August having substantially revised the scheme. They have been asked to supply an environmental impact assessment to support the plans. Hackney Council are due consider in the application in the New Year.
Here are links to some of the earlier ELL stories about the controversy
We are aware that the car park proposed in the original plans was removed at the request of Hackney council and we apologise for the error in including it here. There will only be disabled parking bays in the proposed scheme.