Sainsbury's lorry

Sainsbury's: Destination Hackney? Photograph: Graham Richardson

Four Communications, the PR company criticised for a ‘flawed’ consultation on the proposed Sainsbury’s at Wilmer Place in Stoke Newington, is holding a second public exhibition following local outrage over the first.

The exhibition is taking place on the site of the proposed development on Tuesday 29 May 29, 12 – 8pm. All local residents and traders are invited.

The developer Newmark Properties now says that the proposed Sainsbury’s will be 33 per cent smaller than initially planned – reduced rom aroundy 24,000 sq ft to 16,000 sq ft.

It says the additional space will be used to build additional flats and more affordable housing.

A spokesperson for Stokey Local, a campaign group opposing plans for the Sainsbury’s said: “We believe Stokey Local played an important role in focusing local opposition to the first unacceptable plans, which even the developer now recognises were inappropriate. So far so good.

“We currently have no views on the revised plans as we have not seen them, however we are urging people to participate in the consultation, and will be calling our own meeting as a community organisation to see whether the revised plans meet with local support or opposition.

“We may seek a discussion with the developer once we have considered the new proposals.”

Other revisions to the proposal include abandoning plans for an underground car park (only disabled parking spaces will be available), retaining the two buildings on Stoke Newington High Street that were marked for demolition, and reducing unregulated delivery vehicle movements along Wilmer Place from 400 per day to 30.

Stokey Local says it still has concerns on planning grounds including:

1. The scale of the building and how this impacts on the Stoke Newington Conservation Area

2. The impact on the cemetery

3. Enforcing the delivery restrictions on Wilmer Place to ensure that this access is as safe as possible for residents and people passing through

4. The impact on biodiversity

5. The assessment of what impact the store will have on other local shops.

The campaign group is also awaiting further detail on the amount affordable housing that will form part of the development.

The consultation for the scheme is being handled by Four Local, part of Four Communications, which until recently stated on its website that it “has an enviable track-record in securing political and community support for planning applications for the most sensitive schemes”.

Four Communications has until recently also boasted on its website 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”.

Concerns have previously been raised about the very close connections between serving and past Hackney councillors and the firm.

The Deputy Mayor of Hackney Cllr Karen Alcock works for Four Communications. As councillor for Stoke Newington’s Clissold ward, Cllr Alcock is one of the elected representatives whose constituents are most directly affected by the Sainsbury’s development plan. Former councillor Alan Laing was also previously employed by the firm.

Four Communications now states clearly on its website: “Several of Four’s consultants are also current or past local councillors. We adhere to strict codes of conduct where this is the case and they are not permitted to work in their own areas to avoid any conflict of interest.

“Four and its political consultants adhere to the APPC (Association for Professional Political Consultants) code of conduct.”

The public exhibition is taking place on Tuesday 29 May 2012, 12pm – 8pm on site at 195 – 201 Stoke Newington High Street N16 OLH.

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