Lewisham planning committee has approved a Sainsbury’s Local on 33-35 Lewisham Way (opposite Goldsmiths’ entrance). In the face of local opposition. This will be in addition to the existing Sainsburys centre on New Cross Road.
The committee voted three to three, only the casting vote of Chairman Amrani, turned the result to a win for the application.
Lawyers representing the developers, MacDonald and Egan, claimed that a new local retail shop of one of the bigger chains such as Sainburys, Tescos or the Coop would: “provide convenience for local customers,” and “keep people from driving out to shopping centres”.
He added that Sainsbury’s: “Will have a positive effect on New Cross centre”, since the retail shop would create new “attractivity”. In addition he said: “25 new jobs will be created”.
Local businesses in the area have already expressed their concerns over the plans and the effects it will have on their businesses.
Murat Dogan, co-owner of family-run Goldsmiths Café says: “If a new Sainsbury’s or Tescos opened next door we would not be happy. The competition is high anyway and Sainsbury’s would take over altogether, because they can offer products even cheaper than smaller businesses.“
Mr Akmen, owner of the Goldsmiths Garden, and former Goldsmiths Student, argued that: “Hundreds of jobs have been lost on the high st already due to the Sainsbury’s centre in New Cross Road”. He fears that with the new retail unit in Lewisham Way, more people will lose their jobs.
Chris Boddington, who is co-manager at New Cross Cafe Crema, told East London Lines: “Openings just seem to go ahead with no objection from politicians. All kinds of local jobs are destroyed when a big supermarket opens.“
“ More jobs will be destroyed than created. The social consequences may not be what a council wants,” he said.
Mr Boddington who is also chair of the New Cross Federation, highlighted that one of the Federation’s main goals is to: “Stop the influx of chain stores in the area in order to protect small businesses.“
He adds that: “ Out of one pound that is spent in a local shop, 70 pence remain in the area, whereas 70 pence out of a pound go into the chain’s pocket, if money is spent in a chain retail shop”.
After yesterday’s result he announced: “ We will have to think again. But there is potential for a boycott campaign in order to support local businesses.”
Similar concerns about the new opening have been raised by Goldsmiths’ Student Union. According to the union a new Sainsbury’s just opposite the main entrance of the College would affect local shops around the College but also the Student Union’s shop, cafés and sandwich shops inside the College.
Campaigns officer and designated President of Goldsmiths Students’ Union, James Haywood, said Thursday morning: “The effect of this Sainsbury’s could be devastating. It is situated in a prime location for students and will sap away the market for not only the local businesses, who make New Cross such a unique environment, but also the Students’ Union’s shop, all profits of which go back into the services and campaigning we do.“
He added: “Local shop owners were in fact the first ones to contact us about this issue, they are extremely nervous about the impact this will have on their business. They are small, family-run businesses, how can they possibly compete with the huge monopoly Sainsbury’s has as a multinational corporation?”
The union has been contacting local councillors in the area urging them to vote against the application from Sainsbury’s.
The College refused to comment.
By Katherina Herold