On Monday February 22nd Islington Council issued a firm refusal to Ocado’s second attempt to secure completely unrestricted, unconditional use of the site through the Cleud backdoor in the planning system.
The news is the latest milestone in this high-profile campaign to stop Ocado from putting corporate growth over public health and building a depot in the heart of a residential area given the impact on air, light and noise pollution.
Thousands of supporters and even the High Court in June have all said no to this outrageous development three metres away from Yerbury Primary School, N19. Ocado must now, finally, respect the children of Yerbury, pull out of this site, and apologise for the fear and upset their bullying tactics have caused the community over the past two years.
The children and wider community have made their opposition to this depot known at countless protests over the past two years. Instead of listening, Ocado has used law firms to bulldoze their way through the Council and local residents.
However, the development has not been halted due to public health reasons but due to Ocado’s desperate attempt to undermine the planning process. Ocado claimed that the site’s use as a BT workshop in the 1980s meant it appropriate for a 24/7 grocery distribution centre. It is this claim based on site usage from twenty years ago and only one statement, from an impartial witness who still works for the current landlord, which has finally thrown this case out.
Natasha Cox, parent of children at Yerbury Primary School and campaigner said:
“We demand an apology from Ocado. We ask again that Ocado listen to the voices of the children ringing loud and clear from the playground and drop this divisive and dangerous depot. Do not take the Council to court again, do not put in a planning application, just drop the depot and apologise for all the stress and anxiety you have caused to thousands.”
Cassie Moss, headteacher at Yerbury Primary School said:
“Our thanks go to the Council and campaigners and the decision today to block Ocado from opening their depot in our backyard. We are thankful that children’s health has been prioritised over corporate growth particularly given the weight of evidence now linking air pollution to cognitive and physical development.”
Eve Bolton, 9, pupil at Yerbury Primary School said:
“We don’t want Ocado next door. We don’t want to breath in bad air from vans and lorries. We don’t want noise or stress. All we want is clean air. Thank you to the Council for listening to us.”
Parent, campaigner and air pollution scientist Andrew Grieve said:
“I am in awe of what this community has achieved over the past two years in this campaign. Through solidarity, community spirit and a forensic dismantling of Ocado’s half-truths and misdirection, we have turned the tables on this corporate assault on our community. We must use this bruising experience to review the outdated lawful development loophole which is open to abuse by developers and to enshrine a right to clean air for children who currently have no voice in the planning system.”
Mark Hudson, resident and campaigner said:
“Today’s decision will come as a huge relief to the large number of people living close to the site whose lives would have been seriously blighted by Ocado’s depot, with continual noise, light pollution and the harmful effects of toxic vehicle pollution emitted just feet – in some cases – from their living spaces. Today’s decision shows that ordinary people can band together to fight ruthless corporate forces, such as Ocado, who think they have the financial heft to steamroller any opposition. This decision shows they don’t.”