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Decision day looms for contested plans to build Sainsbury's in Stoke Newington

PUBLISHED: 10:59 02 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:59 02 April 2013

Protesters taking part in a mock funeral procession through Stoke Newington in 2011 against plans for a new Sainsburys supermarket in Wilmer Place

Protesters taking part in a mock funeral procession through Stoke Newington in 2011 against plans for a new Sainsburys supermarket in Wilmer Place

Carmen Valino

Controversial proposals to force 15 businesses to make way for flats and a supermarket will finally be decided tomorrow.

Plans to knock down the existing buildings on the corner of Stoke Newington High Street and Wilmer Place to make way for the construction of 66 homes and a large Sainsbury’s store have met with a fierce campaign by residents and local organisations, who claim the development will “rip the soul” out of the area.

Initial proposals published in 2011 for the site, adjacent to Abney Park cemetery, were for a larger store and 44 flats, but they were withdrawn in the face of widespread public opposition.

A scaled-down scheme will now go before the Hackney planning authority on Wednesday.

Stoke Newington resident Philip Knudsen-Thomas said: “I already have seven of the big supermarkets in my area.

“This supermarket will rip the soul from the street and I for one do not see any reason for this monster to be built right in the centre of our community, when such places already surround us in such a large number.”

Barbara Mickleburgh said: “The area has many independent retailers with customers travelling from far afield to savour the unique fare the area has to offer.

“I can go to Sainsbury’s in any area, in any town, for the bland sameness.”

Ali Keskin, manager of travel company Eco Travel Turkey in Wilmer Place, said he would have to move the business to Edmonton.

He continued: “We are upset about the move. We are going to pay more rent and are expecting to lose customers.”

Hackney Planning Watch, which lists the additional traffic among its reasons for objecting to the scheme, has collected more than 3,200 signatures for an online petition against the proposals, while Natural England has concerns that bats are nestling in the building and has asked for survey work to be carried out.

Russell Miller, chair of Sustainable Hackney, said: “The development will mean the destruction 500 square metres of nature reserve habitat, in addition to the shaving of four and a half thousand square metres of Abney Park nature reserve.”

Nick Perry, a spokesman for Stokey Local, said: “The community does not want this. Show me the benefits. I fail to see them.”

A spokesman for Newmark Developments said: “Our proposals to regenerate this part of Stoke Newington High Street, which have been considerably reshaped following intensive consultation with Stoke Newington residents and businesses, create a high-quality, car-free and cycle-friendly destination.

“They have been developed to the highest environmental standards and will increase footfall to the area, thereby aiding local businesses, provide a large number of new jobs for local people and will help sustain the Stoke Newington economy into the future.”

n. To sign the petition, please visit www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/hackney-council-please-reject-the-wilmer-place-development-application-2012-2228

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