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Controversial Sainsbury’s development gets green light – as protesters vow to fight on

PUBLISHED: 12:40 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 16:53 12 December 2013

The proposed development at Wilmer Place

The proposed development at Wilmer Place

Archant

The “most unwanted and controversial scheme in Stoke Newington for a generation” was passed through council last night, as some 140 campaigners vowed to battle on.

More than 140 campaigners filled the meeting room, with dozens having to stand for hoursMore than 140 campaigners filled the meeting room, with dozens having to stand for hours

At a planning meeting at Hackney Town Hall – labelled “shambolic” by objectors – councillors voted 4:1 in favour of the contentious development at Wilmer Place, Stoke Newington, despite a year-long campaign by residents.

Cllr Daniel Stevens of Lordship ward said he will continue to fight for residents, and campaign group Stokey Local is calling for a public inquiry.

He said: “Everyone in this campaign has made a remarkable achievement. We must refer it to a public inquiry.”

Russell Miller, from Hackney Planning Watch, surrounded by a thick pile of documents against the Sainsbury’s development – which would overlook Abney Park Cemetery and Nature Reserve – said: “This is the most important nature reserve in Hackney and the developers do not understand the ecology of the site.

“There are three nationally scarce species living in Wilmer Place, and if you stick a big building there, they’ll be gone.”

Campaigners have raised £12,000 and reached almost 5,000 signatures opposing the development, while more than 140 attended the meeting wearing ‘Stokey Claus’ Christmas hats.

Local shop owner and campaigner Hamdy Shahein said: “I’ve been here for 34 years and am almost the last shopkeeper left on the High Street, and it is suffering.”

Gifts from Hamdy’s store were given to campaigners during the meeting, from their very own ‘Stokey Clause’, as residents young and old gathered to hear the verdict.

Liz Vater, of Stoke Newington Literary Festival, said: “It’s shambolic and actually quite pathetic.

“The process is weighted in favour of developer and people paid to find excuses around the housing issue.”

The five-storey development, which will have a Sainsbury’s store and 53 apartments, does not meet Hackney Council’s commitment to 50 per cent affordable housing, as only 17 per cent of the flats are in this price range. Current residents’ housing will be demolished, forcing them to leave their homes.

The campaigners have up to four days to petition to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles for him to call the decision in.

There will be a winter fun day held at Abney Park on Saturday at 10am until 3pm with campaigners highlighting the damage they feel would done to the nature reserve.


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