Supermarket giant wins booze licence in face of stiff opposition from councillors

Marks & Spencer, Holloway Road. Photograph: Google Maps.

A new Marks & Spencers in Archway will be allowed to serve alcohol despite concerns from Islington councillors about an oversaturation of off-licences in the area.

The new M&S will replace the branch on Holloway Road, which is one of 100 stores closing its doors as part of the supermarket’s restructuring programme over the next four years.

Holloway Road branch staff are to be relocated to the new foodhall on Highgate Hill.

However, Islington’s deputy council leader Cllr Janet Burgess (Lab, Junction) raised “concerns” around the new branch in a letter of objection.

Cllr Burgess said: “Archway is one of the crime hotspots in the area. I believe that granting this application for a licence for the sale of alcohol will be against the objectives of the licensing policy for prevention of crime and disorder, the prevention of public nuisance, public safety and the prevention of children from harm.

“Archway area has one of the highest concentrations of licences of any ward in the borough, with an average of one off-licence per 317 residents.

“It is widely recognised that as the density of licensed premises increases, so does the number of alcohol-related ambulance call-outs and incidents of alcohol-related crime and disorder.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz (Lab, Junction) added: “We have a high number of vulnerable people in the area due to the local hostels and hospital [and] persistent issues with street drinking, anti-social behaviour, and crime.

“We already have a Tesco, Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Iceland in close proximity. An Aldi will also be opening soon.”

The Holloway branch of M&S first opened to the public in 1914, in its original location on Seven Sisters Road.

Solicitor Jon Wallsgrove, acting for the supermarket, said: “M&S does not have an issue in its stores with street drinkers because it’s not the product that they want, and it’s certainly not the price at which they want it.

“Within the Archway area, there are other licensed premises that they can go to and buy those products.

“Why should a customer of M&S be disadvantaged by the fact that you are imposing a regulation on them to prevent street drinkers and vulnerable people from possibly going into that store, when those other stores that are already there and are providing people with that alcohol are not as highly-regulated as those coming in with a new licence?”