TRADERS have welcomed the council’s decision to protect their livelihoods by blocking a proposal to close a shopping arcade.
In front of a packed public gallery, Harrow Council’s planning committee refused an application submitted by The Pension Fund to redevelop 10 units in Pickwick Walk, Hatch End, into one large shop and cafe, meaning five shops would have to close.
With the assistance of Hatch End ward Councillor, Stanley Sheinwald (UKIP) (pictured), 500 traders and shoppers petitioned against the closure, as reported in the Observer, and were delighted with the outcome.
The owner of Sole and Heel cobblers, Yogesh Umeria, 52, said: “I am thrilled that the application got refused. This place is my livelihood, I don’t know what I would do without it.
“My daughter spoke on behalf of me at the committee meeting and I think it helped. The public have helped us with this success – if it wasn’t for everyone who signed the petition we might not have got the same result.”
Mr Sheinwald, who had been fronting the petition, handed it to the committee during the Civic Centre meeting on Wednesday last week.
He said afterwards: “Of course I am delighted that the application was refused, this is what we were hoping for. We had over 500 signatures which really helped, the support has been brilliant.
“Pickwick Walk is really unique and the shops in there have character, you can’t take that away. The traders have been so grateful to me, it’s really nice to have achieved this result.”
Out of the 10 units, there are six occupied – a mini cab business in two units, a cobblers, barber’s shop, a nail bar, dressmaker and a vacant cafe.
Anne Swinson from Hatch End Residents’ Association said: “We are very pleased with the result but we still may have to face an appeal by the applicant.”
Leader of the Conservatives and ward councillor for Hatch End, Councillor Susan Hall, said: “The fight is not quite won as the owners may appeal, but I do hope that we conveyed the views of our residents in a passionate and cohesive way.”