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Friday, 16 September 2011

Wilmer Place update: holding Sainsbury's and Newmark Properties to account

Labour Councillors in Stoke Newington Central, Lordship and Clissold wards, Jennette Arnold AM and Diane Abbott MP have sent a second open letter to Newmark Properties and Sainsbury’s in response to their refusal to attend a public meeting to discuss the proposed development at Wilmer Place.

Below is a copy of the text of the letter that has been sent.

This follows a letter we wrote to Newmark Properties and Sainsbury’s in August raising serious concerns about the proposals and the deeply flawed consultation that has provided little opportunity for the views of the local community to be properly considered.

The response we received from Four Communications failed to properly address these concerns, as well as rejecting calls for a public meeting.

In their letter Four Communications did state that a planning application would only be submitted “once we are satisfied we have addressed the key issues and have the best scheme possible for Stoke Newington.”

We fail to see how they can develop ‘the best scheme possible for Stoke Newington’ without hearing directly from residents and businesses that the proposals will affect.

In addition to writing to Newmark Properties and Sainsbury’s, we will be running a street stall on Stoke Newington Church Street – outside William Patten School - from 11am on Saturday 17th September where we will be asking local residents to support our campaign for a public meeting.

Copy of the Letter to Newmark Properties and Sainsbury’s:

Dear Mr Cohen,

RE: Proposed Development of Wilmer Place, Stoke Newington

We write in response to a letter received from Alun Hayes on 24 August 2011.

It is disappointing that Newmark Properties’ and Sainsbury’s are refusing to attend a public meeting to discuss the proposed development at Wilmer Place. Your unwillingness to be held accountable for the significant impact this development would have on local residents and businesses in Stoke Newington is of considerable concern.

We urge Newmark Properties’ and Sainsbury’s to reconsider their position and commit to attending a meeting before a planning application is submitted.

Our letter of 22 August 20111 highlighted a range of planning concerns, which were not addressed in the response from Mr Hayes. These include concerns that have been raised repeatedly over the past few months and remain unanswered, including the impact of the development on: traffic; road safety; the Stoke Newington Conservation Area; biodiversity; and the provision of affordable housing.

Mr Hayes states that these are requirements of the formal planning process and answers will be given when an application is submitted. However, it would be surprising if you had not considered these matters as your plans have developed. Your failure to be transparent and accountable to the local community about these issues is an unacceptable response to the legitimate concerns of local residents

Our letter of 22 August 2011 also called on Sainsbury’s to provide more information about the impact the store will have on the local economy. There is support for more local jobs and helping to rejuvenate the upper stretch of the High Street, but local residents are not convinced that the current scheme will achieve this; and the lack of detail provided by Sainsbury’s is unhelpful.

Mr Hayes’ letter of 24 August 2011 stated that ‘there will be a number of opportunities for residents and others to provide more feedback as our proposals develop’ yet failed to provide any detail about what these opportunities are. Based on the nature of the pre-planning consultation carried to date, we remain sceptical about whether these opportunities will materialise.

Since the display in Abney Hall and the launch of the website, there have been no other visible attempts to enter into a genuine dialogue with local residents. The questionnaire on your website is deeply flawed: it is designed around four choices that help to support the current scheme, rather than providing a proper opportunity for residents to have their say. This one sided consultation process would not have given you an accurate sense of the strength of feeling amongst local residents and businesses about the proposed development.

Mr Hayes refers to a ‘determined group of people’, but our experience is that there are a large number of local residents who have come together voluntarily to address the genuine concerns that they have with the scheme. At a meeting organised by Hackney Unites in July, 200 local residents were present. These are local residents who care passionately about Stoke Newington, and at the moment, do not feel that the current scheme will work and that their concerns are being ignored.

We fail to see how you can develop ‘the best scheme possible for Stoke Newington’ without hearing directly from residents and businesses that the proposals will affect. A public meeting can only be of benefit for all parties.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Abbott MP
Jennette Arnold AM
Cllr Edward Brown, Lordship Ward
Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas, Stoke Newington Central Ward
Cllr Rita Krishna, Stoke Newington Central Ward
Cllr Wendy Mitchell, Clissold Ward
Cllr Daniel Stevens, Lordship Ward
Cllr Louisa Thomson, Stoke Newington Central Ward


David Tyler, Chairman, J Sainsbury PLC
Justin King, Chief Executive, J Sainsbury PLC


  1. Would it be possible to publish the Four Communications response in full?

  2. By which I mean the response to the original letter.