Devastated campaigners consider legal challenge after unpopular Sainsbury’s planning proposal in Stokie is passed
PUBLISHED: 16:39 08 August 2013 | UPDATED: 16:41 08 August 2013
Campaigners and residents are devastated after approval was given for a supermarket in a conservation area – despite thousands of objections and the application varying only slightly from an earlier version which was refused.
More than 3,400 people signed a petition against the Sainsbury’s proposals in Stoke Newington and some 300 people marched at the weekend to show their opposition.
Voted four to one
Only five out of nine of the council’s planning committee participateded in determining the application and those present voted four to one in support of the plans for 53 flats and a large supermarket on the corner of Stoke Newington High Street and Wilmer Place – 50 yards from a Sainsbury’s Local.
Planning committee chairman Cllr Vincent Stops cited fears that the developer would appeal if the scheme was refused.
Outraged campaigners are now planning their next move and are considering a legal challenge. John Page, spokesman for Stokey Local who helped lead the campaign, said the process had been “farcical.”
“Councillors seem to have made the decision because of what the planning inspector might decide if the application went to appeal.
“Local people are angry and feel disenfranchised. We are already exploring the possibility of a legal challenge, but we know it would be potentially costly with no certainty of success. You can be sure of one thing: the people of Stoke Newington will continue to organise to protect the independent businesses, the conservation area, our beloved Abney Park and everything that is so unique about the area.
Nick Perry, who spoke against the application, branded the decision “utter nonsense”, saying: “It was a mockery of a process.
“I think it’s a planning committee carve-up. It’s all about the cost of the appeal and not about making the correct decision.”
The development will overlook Abney Park cemetery and environmentalists have warned it will threaten its wildlife and ecology.
Ecologist Russell Miller, who chairs the Abney Park user group, said: “We found 120 species in that area and only a handful will be there once the building is finished. A couple of hundred to a thousand bees in Wilmer Place will die.”
Cllr Stops said: “Members of the committee recognise the strength of feeling and share these concerns but they were not sufficient grounds for refusal. The revised application did address some of the issues raised when the first application was refused. Newmark Properties had also notified us that they intended to appeal the initial refusal; if the appeal had succeeded then the concessions we had secured in the second application would have been lost.
“The developers have now committed to following the amended plans which will reduce the impact in and around Abbey Park.”
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