Campaigners fight on against Stoke Newington Sainsbury’s

A Stokey Local campaign banner. Pic: Hackney Planning Watch

A Stokey Local campaign banner. Pic: Hackney Planning Watch

Campaigners opposed to a new Sainsbury’s in Stoke Newington are set to bring a second action against Hackney council at the High Court.

Stokey Local believe the new development on Wilmer Place would affect the character of the area by threatening local independent stores and imposing on the listed park gates of Abney Park Cemetery.

There are also concerns about lorries entering Wilmer Place opposite a local school and a potential increase in house prices in the area surrounding the supermarket complex.

The first proposal, by Newmark Properties, to build a Sainsbury’s in the centre of Stoke Newington was thrown out in a vote by councillors in April 2013 and was later followed by an almost identical planning application in May, which was controversially accepted by the council’s planning sub-committee.

Stokey Local’s first judicial review, which questions the application process rather that the decision itself, opposed the planning application by attempting to prove that the Council’s decision-making process was flawed.

The first review is set to be heard at the High Court in May and Stokey Local are asking for their second review, which will seek to expose further perceived procedural errors in the application process, to be heard alongside their initial review.

Long time campaigner Nick Perry, said: “The developers responded to our legal challenge in September by resubmitting an identical application and paying Hackney a £39,000 planning fee to go through the process again.

“The result, inevitably, was an identical application with an identical decision in which the Council made further procedural mistakes and repeated some of those it had made earlier. The result is a decision that was both irrational and unfair, and we’ve asked the Council to correct that.”

If the High Court refuses to hear the reviews together and the first of the two fails when it is heard in May, Newmark Properties will have planning permission and the second review will become irrelevant.

Even if Stokey Local wins both of their judicial reviews, Newmark may still be able to submit a further identical planning application.

A Stokey Local spokesperson said: “By then we will have had a series of elections and we may find that the composition of the planning committee has changed. Equally, this time, we may be able to persuade our local MP to support a ‘call in’. So potentially it will be a long campaign; there may even be a third judicial review.”

“For nearly three years we have come together to fight a damaging and unwanted overdevelopment. It is possible that at the end of the campaign we win, and it is also possible that we may not.

Perry added: “This application is the most controversial in Stoke Newington for a generation and the Council has a duty to be particularly circumspect in its consideration of a scheme that everyone agrees, damages the ecology of Abney Park, harms the Conservation Area and the setting of the historic Cemetery, and delivers just a third of the so-called “affordable” homes that Council targets require.

“Quashing the two outstanding decisions gives the council a further opportunity to do just that, and not just succumb to might of developers backed by big corporations.”

A spokesperson for Newmark Properties declined to comment on the development.

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