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Revealed: Impact of Wells Terrace closure on Finsbury Park businesses

PUBLISHED: 18:41 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:46 07 March 2017

Riza Berktas outside The Terrace cafe, which has been transformed from an off-licence after losing 80pc of its business since Wells Terrace closed.

Riza Berktas outside The Terrace cafe, which has been transformed from an off-licence after losing 80pc of its business since Wells Terrace closed.

Archant

When the Wells Terrace entrance to Finsbury Park station closed in July, shopkeepers who relied on the footfall feared it could force them to close. And many of them were right.

Riza Berktas in the new-look Terrace cafe.Riza Berktas in the new-look Terrace cafe.

Riza Berktas is one of the fortunate few still there, but he’s had to transform his old shop Metro Supermarket into a cafe after losing 80 per cent of his business.

In the week before the closure, he told the Gazette traders would not survive the three-year wait for the new station entrance to open.

And this week we caught up with him in his new-look Clifton Terrace cafe – The Terrace Cafe – which opened on Monday.

“We had no choice but to change,” said Riza, who now deals in organic and cooked breakfasts, fine coffee and home-cooked dishes. “We’ve spent a lot on it but we were losing a lot. About 80 per cent of our business was gone. It only took two months. We’ve spent a lot of money, but we needed to do something, everyone has the same problems. Starbucks and Nisa are the only ones making any money. I think about 20 businesses in the area have closed, no exaggeration.

“We knew it would happen. We told you. The council said they were behind us but they haven’t done anything. When we go to the meetings I say, ‘we don’t want anything but reduced rates’, we know we can’t stop the developers but we ask politely. And it didn’t happen.”

Wing Zone, which also featured in the Gazette piece last year, has been forced to close, as have several more businesses in Wells Terrace the Gazette spoke to.

Islington Council last year called on TfL to compensate affected traders, but again, that has not happened.

The closure is part of the £220million City North development, which is creating 355 new homes, restaurants and a cinema for traders to compete with.

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