Campaigners joy as Sainsbury’s withdraw from Belsize Park

Actress Janet Suzman with campaigners at the site in Haverstock Hill

Actress Janet Suzman with campaigners at the site in Haverstock Hill - Credit: Archant

Campaigners were today celebrating the news that Sainsbury’s has withdrawn plans to open a store in Belsize Park following a community backlash.

As reported in the Ham&High, 474 people signed a petition against the plan from the supermarket giant to open a Sainsbury’s Local store on the site of the former burned down Good For You toy shop in Haverstock Hill.

Hampstead actress Dame Janet Suzman, who lives in Keats Grove, was among protesters.

The petition to Sainsbury’s bosses had said the store was unsuitable for the area and would cause problems due to deliveries and waste, litter and noise, traffic as well as force out local independent traders in the area.

There were also concerns it would restrict access to the Globe Tennis club and to the Russell Nursery housing estate behind the store.

The site is owned by developers Sasha Traders who have permission to build a six-storey block of five flats and a ground-floor retail unit.

Sainsbury’s announced its decision to withdraw in a statement and stressed that it was a purely commercial decision.

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A spokesman said: “We have been unable to agree a commercial deal with the developer and have decided not to progress our plans at Belsize Park Station. We will continue to look for new opportunities in the area, so we can bring our convenience offer to a growing number of customers.”

This is the second time Sainsbury’s have withdrawn plans for a store in the area following a community backlash.

In July 2014 it withdrewn plans to open in South End Green after thousands signed online and paper petitions opposing the move.

Campaigners have now called on the sites owners to let the retail unit to a business more suitable to the area.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of the Hampstead Shops Campaign, said: “This is good news for Belsize’s high street. I would now urge the developers to look for a tenant which the community sorely lacks, such as a hardware store. This would bring diversity to the high street which would encourage footfall and help to retain the charm and individuality of this conservation area.

She stressed: “We need to be the guardians of this lovely area which is for the enjoyment of all residents.”

Independent trader Andrew Thornton, who runs Budgens store, in Haverstock Hill, said: “This is great news. Another victory for people power.”

Harold Horwitz, of the Russell Nurseries Tenants and Residents Association, said: “I hope people will now see that this was never about NIMBY ‘toffs’ and that the concerns raised - the dangers of the delivery vans, the noise, the pollution, the potential anti-social behaviour affecting the narrow (pavementless) slip-road - were (and are) considerable and valid for all of us, and not just an imaginery elite.”