News / 7 July, 2011

Anger over Sainsbury’s Stoke Newington ‘sham’ consultation

Residents condemn the ‘one-sided’ consultation about plans for a big new supermarket in the neighbourhood

Sainsburys Wilmer Place Stoke Newington consultation

Small businesses and local people have branded a consultation exercise about a major new retail development in the heart of Stoke Newington ‘biased and unfair’.

Campaign group Stokey Local and others say the questionnaire Sainsbury’s encouraged visitors to complete at an exhibition about the company’s plans for a large new store at Wilmer Place ignored any negative consequences of the proposals.

“The questionnaire only allowed you to rate how important you considered the benefits such as employment opportunities and extra parking,” says Deborah Robertson of Stokey Local, a coalition of concerned citizens and businesses. “It asked nothing about drawbacks, such as the impact on smaller local traders or the effect of extra traffic passing through the area.”

Those attending the exhibition at Abney Public Hall, Stoke Newington, on July 1st and 2nd, were asked to score on a scale of one to five how important they considered: ‘new homes, a food store, a town centre car park and employment opportunities’.

“The questionnaire was biased and unfair,” says Helen Rawlinson, Stoke Newington businesswoman and Leswin Road Residents’ Association committee member. “At a time when Sainsbury’s is trying to build trust with the local community, these kind of underhand tactics  will have completely the opposite effect.”

Sainsbury’s and developer Newmark Properties’ plans involve a 2,200 square metre shop at Wilmer Place, at the junction of Stoke Newington Church Street and the High Street, 44 new flats and 94 underground parking spaces.

The new store would bring to five the number of Sainsbury’s supermarkets in Stoke Newington. Wilmer Place is a short bus ride from a large Sainsbury’s in Stamford Hill and another big store in Kingsland shopping centre, whilst a new Sainsbury’s Local is planned for the Dalston Square development and another is already trading on Stoke Newington High Street.

Responding to concerns about the consultation, Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, told the Citizen:

“I have real concerns about Sainsbury’s development in Wilmer Place and also the way that local residents are being consulted. It is clear that the downsides to this development are not being given proper consideration.

“It is crucial that issues around the impact on noise and safety for residents, as well as the increase in traffic through the already heavily congested junction of Church Street and the High Street are properly thought through.  Similarly, there should be a discussion about the loss of a very diverse range of shops which add so much life to the community.”

Stoke Newington councillor Rita Krishna agrees: “The consultation has been disappointing so far because it is geared to making the case for this particular development,” she says. “Local councillors and residents are not in support of the development as it stands and we will continue to work with residents and community groups to secure changes to the scheme.”

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s and Newmark Properties said: “Attendees at the exhibition had the opportunity to state their opinion on the overall scheme both in person to members of the project team and on the blank section of the feedback form.”

Adam Hart, strategic director of Hackney Cooperative Developments, which helped redesign Dalston’s Gillett Square, claims the development goes against the thrust of council policy and would be a body blow for small businesses.
“This proposal is flatly contradictory to Hackney’s Local Economic Development Strategy,” he says, “which is firmly in favour of supporting small independent businesses rather than having them be wiped out by corporate businesses such as the supermarkets.”

Katharine Tasker, owner of Lemon Monkey cafe, is concerned about the impact of extra traffic. “We already have traffic issues in terms of congestion and yet a great transport system which allows for Stoke Newington residents to get about easily without a car. Small independent businesses are much healthier for a local economy, its culture and its environment. We should protect what we have established in Stoke Newington.”

Local councils are relatively powerless to stop supermarkets opening new stores, but there is growing pressure from the public and parliamentarians for them to be given new powers to curb the ambitions of the big retail chains.

At the begining of July Labour and Liberal Democrat MP’s joined forces to put forward amendments to the government’s Localism Bill which would safeguard the character of local shopping streets. Councils would be required to put in place ‘retail diversity schemes’, to limit the domination of the high street by a few big names, based on the wishes of local people.

For small retailers, such as those in Stoke Newington, these changes cannot come too quickly. According to figures from the British Independent Retailers Association, there was a net loss nationwide of 2,298 independent stores in 2010.

“Small stores like mine face a real threat of closure when a huge supermarket opens up just yards away,” says Dilip Chauhan of Benjamin Chemist, just a stone’s throw from the site of the proposed store.  “At the moment it feels we are powerless in the face of these big companies, who slowly but surely have displaced so many independent stores, like butchers and bakers, from the High Street.”

Campaign group Hackney Unites is asking citizens if they are concerned about the growing homogenisation of Hackney’s high streets. It has called a public meeting on the topic of: ‘Do we really need a large Sainsbury’s in Stoke Newington High Street / Church Street?’

Hackney Unites public meeting
7pm Wednesday 13 July
St Mary’s Church Community Centre, Defoe Road N16 (at the Stoke Newington Church Street end).

Related: Leader: Sainsbury’s is wrong to use PR firm that boasts about overcoming residents’ opposition

/ 7 July, 2011
  • Leabridge resident

    And where were these nice Stokey residents when the council was approving Tesco shop after Tesco shop in every corner of the borrow? I’d rather have legislation against supermarket concentration than another campaign only interested in a small affluent area.

  • N16er

    Some of us have most definitely campaigned against other supermarkets and Stoke Newington is affluent only in pockets. The strongest call from local residents who don’t want this scheme is for affordable housing. If you’re running a campaign to force legislation against supermarket concentration Leabridge resident, we’d all love to hear about it and support you. Oh. Thought not.

  • Adam


  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    Well, it certainly makes a changes from dodgy ‘consultation’ exercises conducted and paid for by Hackney Council! 😉

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    ‘change’ (before Adam berrates me for my typo).

  • shakeit

    Has anyone thought about the people who are living in the space which they want to demolish?
    This is a nightmare for me as im pretty sure i wont be able to afford one of these nice new flats they plan to build.

  • Bruce Spenser

    In the ’60s Stoke Newington, a rich comfortable Borough, was first blighted by Labour when they took away its right to self government and forced it into a super borough with neighbouring Hackney. Labour. What a disaster this has proved to be. Every local political decision that has happened subsequently in Stoke Newington has lessened its the quality of public services and increased the cost.
    Now let us stop this nonsense – let us listen to the market – Stokey is on its way up – this will mean quality shops and restaurants and private services – this will assist in the upward local economic spiral.

    We need a sainsburys, we need a marks and spencer, we need a waitrose. We need quality private restaurants – Stoke Newington is a great place – allow it to become greater!!

    Bruce Spenser

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    Stoke Newington’s arriviste Blairite clique don’t want the Sainsbury’s development blighting their ‘village’, so what are the odds of it going ahead?

    Shame they’re not quite so fussy about the way in which the rest of the borough is developed…

  • Darren

    church street N16? good site for a toxic waste dump

  • Alan

    Sainsbury’s are a top supermarket and how I see it is that the sooner this development is under way and finished and Sainsbury’s move into the Ground Floor area the better for this area.

    Everyone seems to be criticizing the whole prosepective project but once it’s all out of the way and complete this part of Stokey will get such a uplift.

    The current buildings which sits on the site are out of date and in need of transformation and the idea of it being demolited is a good idea. The fact that the site will receive 44 new, modern flats would be a major plus point for these parts.

    The Dalston Square housing development although bigger looks outstanding and has given that part of Dalston a great appeal and the same will be the case around these parts.

    London is an ever growing populated city and when new quality housing comes along it is for the better so this project is a must to take place in Stokey.

    A large Sainsbury’s would complement it all and help people do thier grocery shop all under one roof. It will give poeple in this area a choice of two great supermarket chains along with Morrisons which I believe currently have a wonderful store and is immensly popular with the community.

    As for the independent stores having a groan well thats competition for you and you’ll have to rise up to it. I personally don’t shop in independent grocery stores and off licences round here because almost always you don’t find good customer services because the staff don’t speak good English, prices of stuff are higher and sometimes even you’d ask for an extra bag and they’d pull a face and be impolite.

    The public will vote with their feets where to shop and I think when then the Sainsbury’s does open it will almost definately NOT have a negative impact to Stoke Newington.

    Roll on Sainsbury’s I can’t wait.

  • mrsrowe

    maybe some of the people whinging about the arrivistes in stoke newington complaining about having a third supermaket within a mile of the junction of church street and the high street, would like to take a holiday in Worcester, or somewhere equally ruined, and and see how much fun it is do your shopping in a town centre with no discernible personality at all.

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    @mrsrowe: it’s not that WE’RE whinging about anything; rather, we’re highlighting the hypocrisy of a self-interested little clique whining about a proposed commercial development in ‘their’ ‘village’, whilst apparently being quite happy for major retailers to take over the shopping streets of the rest of the borough.

  • Arthur Shuter

    Looking through the various comments above it is so clear that any dispute of this nature only ever leads to the opposing sides berating each other, whilst the developers sit in the background rubbing their hands in glee and eventually, in this case on 14/02/2014, getting their way. Yes, once the new supermarket is open it will attract an ever increasing share of the local net income and will, inevitably, impact negatively on so many local shops. In years to come the areas around Stokey High Street and Dalston Junction will no longer be the hubs that are currently being designed and will, instead, become areas where the rapidly changing local folk are all long gone and they will have been replaced by those who do not give the same air of arrogance to the areas. The creeping swell of the City of London can only continue for as long as there are increasing numbers of sufficiently affluent people to take up the space. When the flow runs out, God help us all


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