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Sainsbury’s in South End Green ‘could impede ambulance route’ to Royal Free Hospital

11:00 10 July 2014

Traders and residents gather in South End Road to demonstrate their objection to the proposed new Sainsbury

Traders and residents gather in South End Road to demonstrate their objection to the proposed new Sainsbury's store, which would replace four businesses at 53-57 South End Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Ambulances travelling to and from the Royal Free Hospital and a nearby base could be impeded by deliveries to a proposed new Sainsbury’s, campaigners have warned.

David Tyler, chairman of J Sainsbury, has been appointed as the new chief executive of Hampstead Theatre. Picture: Nigel SuttonDavid Tyler, chairman of J Sainsbury, has been appointed as the new chief executive of Hampstead Theatre. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Opponents of the supermarket giant’s plans to open a store in South End Green – opposite the entrance to Hampstead Heath – have this week raised concerns about the impact on the emergency services.

They fear the proposed shop, which would take over four units currently occupied by independent businesses, will get in the way of ambulances, by bringing an influx of large trucks making daily deliveries.

The Sainsbury’s Local would be a stone’s throw from the Royal Free, in Pond Street, and less than half a mile from the London Ambulance Service’s (LAS) Camden base in Cressy Road.

David Kitchen, acting chairman of the South End Green Association (SEGA), said: “That road is a principal ambulance route.

“We’re trying to raise a case for not accepting the proposal because of the impact on ambulances.”

SEGA has contacted the Royal Free and the LAS to ask for their support, but neither organisation has commented publicly.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “It is in our interest to make sure that we can deliver safely to our proposed store.

“We review our delivery strategy for each individual site and determine the most appropriate time for deliveries to occur, taking the local area into context.

“We would use the existing loading bay at the front of the store, as other retailers on the parade currently do.

“Our convenience stores are serviced by smaller vehicles, not articulated lorries that support our larger supermarkets.”

The Sainsbury’s proposal has met with widespread opposition amid concerns over traffic, the loss of independent businesses and the effect on South End Green’s village feel.

Well-known residents including broadcaster Bill Oddie, actress Dame Janet Suzman, novelist Deborah Moggach and journalist Amanda Platell have backed the campaign.

About 3,700 people have signed written and online petitions which were yesterday (Wednesday) handed to Sainsbury’s bosses – including chairman David Tyler who is also chairman of Hampstead Theatre – at the supermarket’s annual general meeting.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, head of the Hampstead Shops Campaign, purchased 10 shares to gain access to the meeting and deliver the petitions.

She told the Ham&High: “Sainsbury’s are trying to speak to the community about how they can ‘blend in’.

“But the point is not to blend in – the point is not to be there at all.”

Sainsbury’s has signed a deal with the landlord Dorrington to take on a new lease covering the four units, subject to winning planning permission.

The current tenants – Polly’s Cafe, Belsize Stationers, Sweet Pea florist and a charity shop – would have to make way.

Mr Kitchen added: “All over the country, Sainsbury’s are slamming in these so-called ‘convenience’ stores – they’re riding roughshod over local opinion.

“The planning powers [to stop them] are very weak, so what we’re trying to do is embarrass them into pulling out.”

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