Last-minute hope for Church Street Bookshop

Church Street Bookshop. Pic: Emma Marvin

A bookshop under threat of closure after trading in Stoke Newington for over 30 years has been given a reprieve on Tuesday after an application to turn it into a restaurant was withdrawn.

Consultants for Avon Estates, who manage the site of the Church Street Bookshop, withdrew the planning application on the day of its deadline.

The shop, which sells second-hand books, is part of a block of three rental units and a car repair garage which Boyer Planning proposed to turn into a single large restaurant.

As EastLondonLines reported last month on Boyer’s plan to knock through a unit rented by vintage clothes shop Casino, a car repair garage and its back yard – located behind the book shop – as part of the new development.

A petition set up opposing the proposals collected around 500 signatures.

Grant Leggett, associate director for Boyer Planning, said he recognises the strength of local feeling about the plans, which were demonstrated through objections to the application.

Legett told EastLondonLines that the consultancy is now reconsidering its proposals for the area, but that any new plans will make provision for the bookshop to stay on the site.

He said: “We will be meeting with the Council’s officers shortly to discuss the application and the objections from the local community in an attempt to find a way forward that balances the community’s views, the council’s objectives, and the need to refurbish the property and bring it back into viable use.”

Pressure group Stokey Local said the most likely reason for the consultancy withdrawing its application was because Hackney Council would reject it, as it was opposed to smaller units being amalgamated into one large one, as this would be out of keeping with the appearance and character of Stoke Newington Conservation Area.

Tim Watson, who owns the shop, said: “The whole process has been delayed by some months, which gives us all more time to plan our futures. Whatever happens, I should have a better choice of options for a bookshop space, hopefully at a rent I can afford.”

He added: “With all the support I have had over the last few weeks, retirement is not an option!”

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