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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Report back from last night's meeting on Wilmer Place

On Monday we met with Newmark Properties and their representatives to discuss the latest version of their plans to redevelop Wilmer Place.

As previously advertised, there will be a drop in session on Tuesday 29th from 12-8pm in a marquee on the Wilmer Place site itself. We campaigned and lobbied hard for there to be further consultation on the scheme. Ideally we would have welcomed a public meeting, but a drop in session does at least allow us the opportunity to see the plans in detail and ask the developer questions before they are submitted as a planning application. We stressed in the meeting last night that holding a drop in on a weekday would make it hard for many people to attend, especially if they are at work during the day – but ultimately it will be up to the developer as to whether he chooses to respond to this concern. Please do attend next Tuesday if you can. We understand that the developer’s website will also be updated with the new plans on, or just after Tuesday.

We haven’t seen the full details of the scheme but the key points are covered in the newsletter that has been distributed to residents:
  • The size of the proposed Sainsbury’s store is being reduced to 16,000 sq foot (approximately the same size as the one in Stamford Hill)
  • Despite the reduction in the size of the store – the overall size of the building has not changed.
  • No underground car parking – and just 7 disabled parking spaces for the development
  • Deliveries still via Wilmer Place, but restricted to 6-7 a day
  • The store’s delivery area will be enclosed to limit the noise from trucks loading and unloading
  • Retaining the buildings on the High Street
  • No vehicle access to the development from the High Street
  • A small buffer between the cemetery and the new building – of approximately 1m.
These are many of the issues that we raised in our objection to Newmark Properties and Sainsburys in August 2011 and we are pleased that issues with transport on the High Street and parking have been considered and taken on board.

However, we still have many concerns on planning grounds including:
  • The scale of the building and how this impacts on the Stoke Newington Conservation Area
  • The impact on the cemetery
  • Enforcing the delivery restrictions on Wilmer Place to ensure that this access is as safe as possible for residents and people passing through
  • The impact on biodiversity
  • The assessment of what impact the store will have on other local shops
We are also awaiting further detail on the breakdown of affordable housing units in the development. This is a very important issue given the housing shortages in the Borough and the increased pressure on the need for family sized housing. (We have been asked about how affordable housing is defined. The Council uses the following definition: Housing designed to meet the needs of households that cannot afford to access suitable housing in the open market. Affordable housing comprises both social rented housing and intermediate housing. You can find out more about the Council’s housing strategy here)

We also discussed last night what Sainsbury’s approach is to providing local jobs. The scheme will have ‘up to 150 jobs’, but there wasn’t any detail yet on whether these are all full time. We were very clear about the importance of ensuring that - if the development is approved - these jobs are filled by local residents. Local Labour agreements will be used to ensure that job opportunities are offered to people in the local area first – again we need to see more detail on how this might work in practice, and hold Sainsbury’s to their pledges.

The Sainsbury’s representative also confirmed that there were no plans to close any of their other stores in the local area.

We are expecting an application to be submitted at the end of June. We understand that if planning permission is granted, the construction period would be 18 months.

Please do get in touch with us if you have any further views or comments.

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