Nag’s Head Market plans spark heated debate

Nag’s Head Market, Seven Sisters Road. Photograph: Google.

The proposed redevelopment of Islington’s Nag’s Head covered market has sparked a community debate.

News broke last November of plans to convert the historic market’s second floor into The Upper Place, a street food fair hosting 23 stalls over about 7,000 square feet.

A petition with over 200 signatures has been submitted against the expansion, which has also attracting the opposition of the headteacher of a nearby primary school and a Finsbury Park councillor.

Of the 37 representations made to the council ahead of the decision on whether to give the plan the licensing go-ahead on 8 January, 16 wrote in in support of the plans, with some of the write-ins claiming to be from current traders at the Nag’s Head. All representations are anonymous.

Nitsa Sergides, headteacher of Grafton Primary School, said: “I have lived in Islington for more than forty years and Islington is in my heart. I am concerned already about the crime in this area of Islington and very much local to our school.

“With so many gambling establishments, local pubs and pawnbrokers everywhere the proposed establishment will just add insult to injury.”

Cllr Gary Heather (Lab, Finsbury Park), writing after a residents’ meeting held by applicant Empire Visions Ltd., said: “They did not proactively attempt to address how they would mitigate any of the negative impacts that are likely to arise from their activities.

“Granting this licence allowing the sale of alcohol, and amplified live and recorded music, up until 00.30 in the morning, is in my opinion only likely to exacerbate all these problems for local residents and other people who already frequent the area.

In the Islington Gazette it says the applicant has plans for a “roof terrace”. Is this an early indication of mission-creep on the part of the applicant?”

However, opinion on the proposed street food offer at the over forty-year-old venue is split, with one resident stating that The Upper Place “is an exciting and dynamic project and exactly the sort of initiative we should be encouraging…it is also refreshing to see a local development which is not based around converting existing business premises into expensive housing units.”

Another added: “I am a trader in Nag’s Head Market Seven Sisters Road. I am in full support of the licence application for the premises. I totally believe it will make a positive impact in my business as it will attract more people inside the market.”