Highgate greengrocer fears for future of his business and shopping parade

Over the past 20 years, Mickey’s fruit and vegetable shop has garnered a reputation for its fresh produce and friendly service.

Located in Swains Lane, it is a favourite shopping stop for families living in Highgate and beyond.

But it appears time may be running out for the independent store which could be knocked down to make room for a four-storey block of flats and supermarket.

“It will be heartbreaking,” greengrocer Mickey Shamlain admits. “I have been here for 20 years. Everyone knows each other on first name terms and that is what I love about working here and being part of the community.”

This is the fourth time traders have gone to battle to save the parade of shops from being demolished.

Plans for the site, which were unveiled last week, include 26 flats and a supermarket, believed to be a Waitrose store.

But Mr Shamlain says more should be done to protect independent shops.

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The 62-year-old grandfather, of Weatherhill Road, Muswell Hill, said: “I know every customer by name.

“You don’t get that in big chain stores. Sadly, the supermarkets are too freely being allowed to open up. It is happening everywhere.

“Lots of people will lose their jobs if this development gets the go-ahead. It will bring more loss to the area than gain.”

The flats would range from one to three bedrooms – some with balconies overlooking Hampstead Heath. Residents fear the development will block views of nearby St Anne’s Church in Highgate West Hill.

There would also be restrictions on parking with only nine spaces available for the block of flats.

The parade belongs to the Earl of Listowel and is being developed by Nathaniel Lichfield.

Mr Shamlain says the building should never have been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.

He added: “Since I have been working here they have wanted to knock down this building.

“It should have been repaired long ago.

‘‘If they really care about small businesses, they would fix up the parade and allow us to carry on.

“It will be very sad if we have to go. But I haven’t given up.”

The Highgate Residents’ Association will hold a meeting at St Anne’s Church in Highgate West Hill on Wednesday, August 15 at 7.30pm to discuss the plans.