Shopkeepers fear new building proposal would ‘kill’ Muswell Hill’s village feel

Michael Silliton and his colleague John Cousans from The Flower Seller in Muswell Hill fear a propos

Michael Silliton and his colleague John Cousans from The Flower Seller in Muswell Hill fear a proposal to redevelop the site where they are based could put them out of business. Picture: MICHAEL SILLITON - Credit: Archant

A flower shop owner fears he could be forced out of business if plans to redevelop his premises get the go ahead.

Michael Silliton has run The Flower Seller in Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, for 20 years but fears an application to build on a row of shops where his florist’s is situated could cost him his livelihood.

The plan would see a basement and four storey building rise up with space for six shops on the ground floor and flats above.

However, Mr Silliton fears if Haringey Council approves it his shop would be knocked down to make way for the development.

“My fear is I’ll be out of business. We don’t know how this will pan out. The uncertainty is very worrying,” Mr Silliton said.

He went on to add that even if his business survived the building phase, rent at the new site could be raised putting independent shops like his out of business.

“Muswell Hill is a place where there are still independent shops. That needs to be preserved with rents that allow people to make a living,” the 52-year-old father-of-three said. “It’s a big threat for me and my colleague John.”

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Morgan McGlyn, from Cheeses of Muswell Hill a few doors down from The Flower Seller, slammed the new building’s design saying its modern look was out of keeping with the surrounding Edwardian shops.

She echoed Mr Silliton’s warning higher shop rents at a new development would be affordable for retail chains but force small businesses out.

“Muswell Hill’s independent boutiques give it that village feel. A development like this will kill that,” she said.

A spokesman for business group the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association (MHFGA) said: “Our primary concern is to ensure the development enhances the town centre.

“Understandably, residents are concerned about the impact this development would have on the town centre,” he added before urging the applicant to carry out a public consultation exercise.

Muswell Hill Cllr Gail Engert, who first warned Mr Silliton about the plan, said: “This proposed development will threaten thriving independent businesses like the wonderful Flower Seller, which are part of the reason people visit Muswell Hill’s vibrant shopping centre. The design is unattractive and out of keeping with our Edwardian shopping centre.

“The disruption such a development would cause, particularly the excavations at basement level, would not only impact on our independents, and could make them less viable in the future, but would also cause disruption for residents,” Cllr Engert added.

A Haringey Council spokesman confirmed receipt of the planning application and said a public consultation is ongoing.

“We would encourage businesses and residents to respond to it,” he added.

The consultation ends on February 5.

The applicant declined to comment.