Last Wednesday more than seventy local people came together to discuss ‘what next’ after the council’s planning committee granted planning permission to the Sainsbury’s/Wilmer Place development.
John Page of Stokey Local writes:-
Initially the meeting was a little subdued, many people expressed their shock and disappointment at the council decision. However, it soon moved to a discussion of what can be done to stop the development.
Challenging the basis of the decision
We were very fortunate that a Barrister who lives locally and specialises both in planning and Judicial Review had heard of the campaign and offered to help. He is currently assessing the potential of taking a Judicial Review of the Council’s decision.
A Judicial Review is a special form of appeal. In effect it seeks to get a judge to overturn the Council’s decision on the basis that it was not properly taken. It will not concern itself with the merits of the application, but it will look at whether the Council followed appropriate procedures and appropriately considered all relevant matters. If the Judicial Review is successful the original decision will be quashed and the application will need to be reheard.
The Barrister had not fully considered all the papers, but was of the view based on what he had read that there was certainly the potential for an application. We are awaiting his views on whether there is a reasonable prospect of success.
If we do progress to a Judicial Review, we will have to raise a significant sum of money. Even with the Barrister working on a contingency fee basis (i.e. no win, no fee) we will have to pay a solicitor and create a fund to pay a contribution towards the other sides costs should we lose).
Will you pledge your money to support this challenge?
We therefore need to raise £10,000 (the equivalent of 200 people making a donation of £50. Given the number of people we have involved, this is an achievable target. The good news is that we already have pledges of £2,000.
We are currently formulating a constitution for a ‘fighting fund’ and setting up a bank account, but we need to start collecting pledges now.
We will not be opening the fund unless the Barrister advises us to go ahead with the legal challenge. So for now we are simply looking for pledges. If you can pledge some money (and quite frankly the more the better) then please register your pledge here.
The meeting explored lots of other possible avenues, before breaking into smaller groups to work on specific ideas.
One positive suggestion was that we create a ‘Stokey Pound’, which ensures that money spent locally recycles in the local economy, and allows consumers to ensure their money supports local businesses. Check out the Brixton Pound to see how this might work. If you are interested in supporting this development, please get in contact.
Wilmer Place Tenants Meeting
There will be a special meeting for businesses/ residents on the Wilmer Place site this Tuesday at 6.30pm (email john.page45@btinternet for details).
Media, design and comms group
A small group is coming together to think about how we get our messages across, particularly using new media. If there is anyone with print/graphic design or artist skills, who would be willing to help out with designing our campaign materials, please let us know. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Jane: firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been suggested that we set up a group to co-ordinate local performers with the view to putting on a benefit. If you are interested in convening this group, or getting involved please get in contact.
Legal and research
If you are happy to help out by doing some work on some detailed preparation of the case then please email Nick on email@example.com
We are looking for ideas for a celebration of what we have achieved (this has been a long three year campaign and during that time we have brought out community together). Suggestions include an event at Abney Park Cemetery (all ideas welcome).
At the meeting on Wednesday, the suggestion was made that we should organise a boycott of the Sainsbury’s Local. However, there is not a consensus within Stokey Local for a boycott campaign. We have not launched one previously on the grounds that we have tried to be both innovative and positive. While many people have chosen not to give their money to Sainsbury’s there is a widely held view that a formal call for a Sainsbury’s’s boycott would be both divisive and ineffective (we currently have almost unanimous support within the community for our campaign against the development, but are unlikely to see similar levels of support for a boycott of the Sainsbury’s local, and Sainbury’s are unlikely to be moved by a local and no doubt temporary boycott). No doubt discussions on this subject will continue: please let us have your views.
The last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for our community, but one thing is for sure, we are not down yet!