Greenwich Ikea campaigners look to the courts: Can you help?

Rainbow at Sainsbury's Greenwich, 2011
Campaigners against Ikea’s proposed store in east Greenwich have launched an appeal for funds as they look to begin a judicial review into the Government’s decision not to overturn planning permission for the scheme.

Greenwich Council gave outline permission for the store, on the site of the “eco-friendly” Sainsbury’s store in Peartree Way, in March. Planning officers ignored concerns about increased traffic and air pollution, a decision later backed by London mayor Boris Johnson.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles put the scheme on hold, but later opted not to intervene in the scheme. Current Greenwich Council leader Denise Hyland was among the councillors to back the scheme in March, along with then-leader Chris Roberts, then-chief whip Ray Walker, Steve Offord and Clive Mardner; ignoring over an hour of public criticism of the proposals.

More recently, English Heritage turned down a request from the Twentieth Century Society to list the Sainsbury’s store, which opened in September 1999 and was shortlisted for the following year’s Stirling Prize for architecture. Construction work is now well under way on a replacement Sainsbury’s store at Gallions Road, Charlton.

Now the No Ikea Greenwich group needs to raise £2,000 to take the case to solicitors for an initial opinion on a judicial review. Payments can be made via this PayPal page. Judicial reviews need to be launched within three months of the decision they seek to challenge, so the money will need to be raised quickly.

A new petition has also been launched to persuade Sainsbury’s to lift the restrictive covenant on the old store which prevents its use as a supermarket.

The architect behind the Sainsbury’s store, Paul Hinkin, died earlier this month at the age of 49.

“Paul was a very gifted and principled architect with a passion for true sustainability and he will be desperately missed,” his firm, Black Architecture, said in a statement.

Hinkin spoke at the Greenwich Council meeting that approved Ikea’s plans, and earlier this year wrote that Ikea should “do the right thing” and rethink its plans.

“Develop a proposition that meets the needs of the many people of London by developing a store directly served by train or tube and built with the same care, craftsmanship and environmental stewardship that you demand from you furniture,” he wrote.

Ikea certainly has changed its business model in other parts of Europe – a new store in Hamburg is in an inner-city, pedestrianised area.

But there’s been no sign of Ikea announcing any changes to its model for its Greenwich store (indeed, no sign of Ikea representatives for some months, according to Greenwich Millennium Village residents), nor any sign of pressure from Greenwich Council on the flat-pack furniture giant to amend its plans.

10 comments

  1. Andy

    I am opposed to IKEA’s proposals and submitted detailed planning representations to that effect. However planning permission has now been grated and whilst emotions continue to run high, I would suggest that everyone considering donating to No Ikea Greenwich seriously question whether there are any reasonable prospects of success. Judicial Review can only be used to challenge procedural failings in the planning process (not the decision or judgment of the planning committee). Having looked at No Ikea Greenwich’s website I can see no explanation as to what procedural failings they have identified upon which they intend to seek legal opinion as to their chances of bringing a successful challenge. Before asking the public for money they ought to clearly set out their case – or is this simply a “punt in the dark”?
    Furthermore even if an opportunity to mount proceedings were identified, the process would cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds to see through. Unless I am missing it, I can see no recognition of this on the website and no explanation as to how bringing such a case is to be funded.
    As I have said, I remain opposed to the scheme but will not be donating as I fear this could prove to be a major waste of time and money, unfortunately.

  2. Kate

    Andy – you are incorrect. You are entitled to launch a judicial review over a decision if you believe that decision to be:
    – Illegal
    – Irrational/unreasonable or
    – Subject to procedural irregularity

    In my opinion, approving this store in an illegally-polluted area on the grounds that it will IMPROVE air quality could easily fit into all of the above.

    I will be donating.

  3. Lucy

    To clarify: The appeal is to raise up to £2000 to consult a barrister to see what grounds there are to appeal, not to appeal. When we have legal advice we can consider the prospect of a judicial review. That feelings are running high is hardly surprising when so much is at stake.

    Best wishes

    Lucy
    No Greenwich Ikea

  4. lucy

    No Greenwich ikea are not raising money from the public, they are the public. The face book page states:
    ‘To establish if there is a case to answer, we need to get a barrister’s view before we could instruct a lawyer (but informal advice points us in this direction). We need to raise something like £2000 initially (any future fundraising will depend on the advice given). Is strength of feeling high enough in the community to help fund a legal case? Let’s put this out there and see what happens.’

  5. Sven Ellis

    The Hamburg store is interesting. I’m not sure ‘inner-city, pedestrianised area’ is quite right. Altona is more like an inner suburb, and although there is pedestrian access, there are 700 parking spaces. But because it’s a pain to drive to, more than 60% of people have been getting there by non-car means. They’ve then been shopping differently, buying smaller items and going more frequently. Which is sort of what IKEA are claiming will happen at Greenwich, although I’m not convinced. I definitely don’t fancy one of those cargo bikes up Victoria Way.

  6. vridaochskrika

    I don’t know who wrote the 38 degrees petition to save Greenwich Sainsbury’s but someone needs to tell them that if they live in Greenwich Peninsula they do not live in a village, they live in a modern estate of flats and maisonettes. There will be three supermarkets within a five minute walk of the existing Sainsbury’s building so it’s not a loss. The current building has flooding issues, unreliable freezers and the wind turbines produce no electricity.

  7. DB

    IKEA are claiming customers will ditch their cars here, whilst making no concessions to their standard car-centric store model. So what Greenwich will be left with is a regular car-dependent IKEA warehouse that actually has fewer car parking spaces than their urban ‘no car’ store in Hamburg. At the planning meeting where the Greenwich store was approved, several speakers asked whether IKEA would be willing to adopt this urban model here; the IKEA representatives said no.

    Some numbers from IKEA’s Transport Assessment Report that accompanied their planning application…

    – Proportion of customers IKEA claims will travel to the Greenwich store by tube One in five
    – Proportion of surveyed customers who actually said they use the tube for this kind of shopping One in 200

  8. John Norman

    Has planning been granted?
    I thought the OK had been given for a detailed application had been granted
    Indeed – it seems to be in progress not ‘decided’ on Greenwich’s website.
    http://publicaccess.royalgreenwich.gov.uk:81/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_GRNW_DCAPR_76174

    I guess Ikea are hoping to get in before the 20,000 new homes are built around Greenwich over the next few years. Heh, bet they hope there are no delays with the process.

    I the traffic generated by visitors to Ikea will at times block the route to the blackwall tunnel – which is not good for London, however a lot can be done with the existing lay out. Which I hope the is done and financed by Ikea. I think someone lost the manual for the traffic lights around Sainsburies + the A102 roundabout.

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