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Victory for Highbury campaigners as Sainsbury’s plan is thrown out

Town Hall blocks supermarket scheme at former police station site amid concerns over safety

10 August, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

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

PLANNING chiefs have blocked plans to build a Sainsbury’s store on the former Highbury Vale police station site in Blackstock Road for the third time.

The decision comes after Highbury residents protested against the plans, saying small independent businesses would suffer, while lorries serving the store would make the roads unsafe for school pupils and cyclists.

Christian Spurrier, a campaigner and Highbury resident, said: “It’s fantastic news. The fact that Islington Council have turned this down on delegation of power shows they understand the strength of feeling in the community and they support us.

“Our view as a group is that we will keep campaigning. From experience, Sainsbury’s will find a way to relaunch the application and try again to disregard our very obvious and loudly expressed views in Highbury, and force this store on us again. That will probably be our focus for the next couple weeks.

“It’s not an anti-Sainsbury’s campaign, it’s an anti-Sainsbury’s in Highbury Vale campaign.”

In February last year, the council refused permission for a Sainsbury’s 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 council decided to refuse the application on Tuesday on the grounds that the delivery off-loading plans were unsafe, and against the loss of two trees from building plans to remove part of the pavement.

Green councillor Caroline Russell said: “It’s a testament to the hard work of community campaigners that Sainsbury’s has been refused again. A second store was unwanted and unnecessary, and building a large loading bay would have made Blackstock Road less safe. I’m glad Islington Council has accepted that the loss of pavement space and regular lorry deliveries would make the road a far less people friendly place.”

Highbury East councillor Sue Lukes said: “Islington Council is on the side of the community. We want to build communities, we don’t want them bullied or undermined.

“We call on the owners of the site, which has been sitting vacant for some time now, to get together with the community to decide what to use it for. We are keen for them to sit down with us and the campaigners to get this site used for something everyone wants and needs. There’s always a need for things in the community that people would like, not another supermarket store.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this decision and considering our next steps. We will keep members of the community updated.”

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