The chair of a group representing businesses in Stoke Newington has declined to condemn outright controversial plans by a high street giant to open a new store in the area.
Stoke Newington Business Association (SNBA) chair Rosanne Berry said traders held “a range of views” about the so-called Wilmer Place proposals to build a supermarket at 195-201 Stoke Newington High Street/Wilmer Place.
Critics say the plans to build a Sainsbury’s larger than the grocer’s current premises a short bus ride up the road in Stamford Hill could force small grocery stores out of business.
Hackney Liberal Democrats warned the development could lead to congestion and harm the character of the area.
Their spokesman Ben Mathis said: “I don’t believe people in Stoke Newington want or need another supermarket, especially in a location where it will cause valuable old buildings to be demolished and create more traffic chaos.”
Mohammed Arshad, who owns a butcher shop close to the proposed site, said: “If this goes ahead it will kill us. I will have to go on the dole. We are already suffering because of the credit crunch.”
It is expected the scheme will involve the construction of 44 flats and 94 underground parking spaces, and its backers – Sainsbury’s and the developers, Newmark Property Investments – claim it would create 200 new jobs and provide much needed parking space.
Ms Berry said that although she did not personally believe the area needed another supermarket, some businesses thought it could help boost trade.
She said: “The Stoke Newington Business Association represents some 80 diverse businesses within N16. These businesses hold a range of views concerning the proposed development at 195-201 Stoke Newington High Street and the land behind, some pro and some anti…
“A thriving town centre and community needs a good mix of shops of all types and sizes in order to continue to improve and bring business into the area. That is not to say that we need another retail food outlet at all, my personal opinion is that we have enough of these already to serve the area.”
Consultation for the scheme is being handled by Four Local, part of Four Communications, which, according to its website “has an enviable track-record in securing political and community support for planning applications for the most sensitive schemes”.
The firm boasts that it “helped UKCMRI [UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation] gain planning consent from LB [London Borough of] Camden for the biggest medical research centre in the UK despite widespread and co-ordinated local opposition”.
In a statement on the Wilmer Place scheme’s website – wilmerplace.com – Sainsbury’s and Newmark Property Investments state: “We value the views of local residents and would encourage as many people as possible to attend the exhibition, which we are planning to hold in the near future. The plans are still at an early stage and no application will be submitted to the council before we have undertaken a full consultation.”