Victory for campaigners fighting against plans for a Sainsbury’s in Stoke Newington

Threats to the biodiversity of Abney Cemetery were one of the reasons that plans for a large Sainsbu

Threats to the biodiversity of Abney Cemetery were one of the reasons that plans for a large Sainsbury's store and 66 flats were thrown out at a planning meeting last night - Credit: Archant

Campaigners are jubilant after unpopular plans to build a Sainsbury’s and flats in Stoke Newington were thrown out by the town hall last night.

Residents and campaign groups such as Stokey Local, Hackney Planning Watch and Hackney Society have been campaigning against proposals since they were first touted in summer 2011.

Nearly 200 people crammed into the planning committee meeting which listened to plans to convert business units and homes into a large Sainbury’s and 66 flats adjacent to Abney Cemetery on the corner of Stoke Newington High Street and Wilmer Place.

During the meeting Lordship cllr Daniel Stevens petitioned against the application, saying: “Such an extreme, intrusive mass immediately abutting Abney Park will significantly change the cemetery’s unique woodland edge and cannot fail to impact on the habitat and its species.”

Chair of the Hackney Society Nick Perry, who also spoke against the application, said: “Over 75 quality, office-related jobs will go. Most will leave the borough, along with associated local trade. Some businesses will be wound up.

“This is not a destination shop. It will draw no new visitors. Rather, it dilutes the specialist retail, which survives because of its unique character.”

In the end, the committee voted four to two against the proposals largely because of the environmental impacts to the cemetery and biodiversity.

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Dr Jane Holgate, spokeswoman for Hackney Planning Watch who set up a petition which garnered over 3,700 signatures said: “It was a great victory for local campaigners last night who had spent two years putting arguments forward why this wasn’t a good idea.”

John Page, a spokesperson for community group Stokey Local which organised a zombie parade and collected 2,000 signatures on paper, said: “I think this is a great example of what our communities can do when they get organised. The proposed development was not wanted, was damaging to the environment of Abney Park Cemetery and would have decimated the independent retailers of the area.

“The community mobilised, including publicising our concerns through public meetings, organising a “zombie parade”, facilitating a 1,000 letters of objection and most recently collecting over 3,000 signatures on a petition in the last two weeks. Ultimately the fact that nearly 200 people turned up to the meeting may have been the deciding factor in convincing the committee that the scheme needed to be rejected as its obvious adverse impact was not compensated for by its negligible benefits.”

Tony Harms, secretary of Stoke Newington conservation advisory committee, said: “I think that the councillors acted correctly and properly. The interesting thing is whether there’s going to be an appeal. Conservation areas depend on the people who live and work there to keep them going.”

Mr Perry added: “If there’s anything we can learn from this, it’s that you have to know the process to fight plans like this. When you do you get the results you want.”

Newmark Properties declined to comment but have not ruled out appealing against the planning decision.