Stokey Local campaigners lose judicial review against Hackney Council – the end of the independent trader?

Stokey Fin Fahey

Stoke Newington Church Street. Pic: Fin Fahey

The  Stokey Local campaigners  lost their battle against Hackney Council in court yesterday, 24 October.

The campaigners argued that the council’s decision to grant permission to Newmark to build a new Sainsbury’s along with 53 flats was unlawful. The claim was dismissed by Mrs Justice Patterson in less than a week and the campaigners now face a bill of £22,000 or more after what was deemed by the campaigners to be a ‘hugely disappointing’ result.

But what does this outcome mean for Stoke Newington’s community? Could this mark the end for independent traders?

Nigel Ali, from Pak Butchers, said: “I feel very bad that they’re going to open another Sainsbury’s. I don’t see why we need it.  There is already a Morissons, Tesco’s, and Tesco’s Express around us, why do we need another big supermarket? Small local shops around us are going to get destroyed and shut down because of this, it really makes me mad and we don’t want it.”

Ali’s view is shared by many, but there is still hope ahead, according to Troy Dickerson, the supervisor of Meat N16 in Stoke Newington. He said: “We want to keep Church Street as independent as possible of course, especially since I myself work for an independent company. It’s hard to prevent these things from happening though, big companies usually always get their way no matter how much you try to fight them.  As long as we, the small local companies, keep our customers happy, people will always come back if we give them the good service they’ve always known.”

Ruben Montiel, a local who also works in the area, was taken aback by the news. He said: “I didn’t know that Sainsbury’s won the campaign, this is the first I’m hearing about it.  I think this is bad because Church Street is full of independent shops and it’s so culturally diverse because of that reason.  I think that opening a new Sainsbury’s here will make the street lose a lot of its tourism, because if a big corporate shop opens it will lose a lot of its essence.  It will also be bad for business owners.

“I feel bad for the campaigners and I think that this must have a negative effect on them. I thought that they managed to stop Sainsbury’s from opening, but I think that they did the best that they could and they did a good job, it’s just a shame they didn’t beat them.”

In a blog post for Stokey Local’s website, the campaigners argued that it is necessary to not forget their underlying achievements. The blog post reads: “We did something amazing. We got organised, we got enthusiastic, we proved how much we love Stoke Newington […] we fought for positive change.”

What locals can do for the campaign in the immediate future is to support it through donations. If you wish to do so, you can email the Stokey Local team here. A public meeting will also be organised for the week commencing 3 November.

Radu Istrate and Athena Styli

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