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Critics battling Muswell Hill flats plan hand Haringey petition with 1,000 signatures

PUBLISHED: 15:13 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:18 09 February 2018

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A developer’s bid to demolish a row of shops has sparked 250 objections and a petition signed by up to 1,000 people.

Neighbours say the plan for a modern, four storey building with six flats, revamped shops and a basement at 1 Fortis Green Road threatens to destroy Muswell Hill’s Edwardian appearance.

On Monday, February 5 worried residents presented the petition to Haringey planing officer Conor Guilfoyle. The organisers said it took four hours to collect the names of a thousand people opposed to the scheme.

Diana O’Sullivan and fellow residents collected the signatures outside Sainsbury’s while a neighbour dropped leaflets through 450 letterboxes to make people aware.

On the numbers, Ms O’Sullivan said: “It just shows you the strength of feeling in the community. We don’t want this.”

The petition urged the council to protect Muswell Hill and reject the plan. Comments submitted online to Haringey include criticism of a parking survey carried out at 4am which concluded the development would not increase demand for spaces. The bid was also slammed as potentially causing disruption to an area which has already been plagued by bus stop moves as well as road and water works.

Statement in support praise the application as “sensitive and appropriate” for the road while the existing site is slated as “a third world mess”.

A public consultation ended on February 5. Residents called on the developer to organise a meeting for the community to ask questions.

The Flower Seller owner Michael Silliton fears the build could put him out of business. He said he felt lucky to see so much community support for local businesses. “People have been so generous with their support. They’ve been fantastic,” he said.

La Dinette owner Claire Jury, who employs 10 full and part time staff at her community cafe, added: “We worked so hard to set the business up. We spent all our savings. It’s terrible to think this could all disappear. I’m not sure we would have the courage to open again.”

A director of applicants Acemark Properties Ltd, who asked not to be named, said the company “in principle” had always welcomed local traders. He added he could not guarantee rents would rise, but Acemark had “no intention of excluding local traders.

Asked if the company would meet tenants, the director said: “I would welcome the opportunity of discussing it with residents and tenants to try and put their minds at rest.

“The application is not to force out local traders. I don’t recognise that danger,” he said. “If we set rents too high, we would not get tenants at all.”

The director, who said he had been a customer of The Flower Seller and had visited La Dinette, disagreed the scheme was the biggest Muswell Hill had seen in years.

“It’s hardly a major development. There’s a tremendous amount of hype. It increases retail space and gives residents accommodation upstairs. How can that be negative?” he asked.

In reference to critics, he added: “These people are nimbys.”

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