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New store would kill high street, say Blackstock Road protesters

Mask-wearing campaigners worried about pollution renew fight to stop Sainsbury’s moving in

27 July, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Protesters, including Green councillor Caroline Russell, centre back, outside the former police station in Highbury Vale

DEMONSTRATORS have staged a street protest in a bid to prevent Sainsbury’s opening a new branch in Blackstock Road.

Protesters say small independent businesses will suffer if the supermarket giant moves into the site of the former Highbury Vale police station, while lorries serving the store would make roads unsafe for school-run pupils.

Islington Council has already thrown out two bids by Sainsbury’s to open at the site, but the company has come back with a third attempt to create one of its Local stores.

On Tuesday evening, opponents were outside the building rallying support. Some wore masks to highlight their pollution concerns.

Mandy Leathan, who lives off Blackstock Road, said: “It will be the death of this high street. At the moment, we have a butcher’s, an off-licence and a greengrocer’s. I’ve gotten to know our local shopkeepers, who give my children sweets when we come in. We don’t want to lose all of that.”

Christian Spurrier, who helped organise the protest, said: “They’re just trying to blanket the area, control the area commercially and create a monopoly. It’s so unfair on local traders.”

Turan Yavouz works at Arsenal Supermarket, an off-licence a few doors down from the police station site. He said: “We don’t need a Sainsbury’s here. Why can’t they use the space to build something the community needs – a health care centre or a community centre?”

Janice Acquah, who lives off Blackstock Road with her two children, said: “I am concerned that they feel they can come down and do damage to our community. It will affect my school route. It is unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians and will impact pollution.”

Adrie Rensen, who lives in Blackstock Road, said the supermarket would remove part of the pavement to make way for loading lorries. “This is public space. Why would they want to take that away from us?” he said. “It will affect wheelchair-users and is a hazard for cyclists, as we have seen from the Sainsbury’s store further down the road. They want to take two trees away too.”

In February last year, the council refused permission for a store amid safety concerns over proposed loading and unloading plans. Sainsbury’s then saw an appeal to a government planning inspector fail in October.

The company has now come back to the council with a new operating plan. Sainsbury’s said its planning application was developed in close consultation with council planning guidelines.

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