Pupils have told online supermarket Ocado to ‘leave our school alone’ as a court battle over plans to build a depot in London began today.
Ocado is attempting to overturn Islington Council’s decision to revoke a licence for the new 24/7 storage and distribution centre, causing parents and residents to say they fear for the health and wellbeing of the children at nearby Yerbury Primary.
Headteacher Cassie Moss said the site is opposite the school ‘literally along the whole length of our playground’.
Speaking outside court, she said: ‘It’s about health, it’s about pollution, it’s about air quality and it’s also about noise pollution. We’re a 120-year-old building and our classrooms look directly over the site.’
She was flanked by pupils who stood with placards reading ‘NOcado’, ‘No noise, no pollution, no Ocado’ and ‘Education over Convenience’ and, in a variation of the famous Pink Floyd lyrics, sang ‘Hey, Ocado, leave our school alone’.
In 2019 the council granted property company Telereal Trillium (TT) a certificate of lawful development for the site.
The court heard that Ocado went into a lease agreement for the units that year having ‘relied upon the certificate as conclusive evidence that its intended use of the premises was lawful’.
But the council said ‘false information’ had been provided by TT, and ‘material information (was) withheld’ and reversed its approval for use of the site at Bush Industrial Estate in Tufnell Park.
Locals, known as the Concerned Residents of Tufnell Park, oppose use of the units ‘by anyone in an unrestricted manner’.
In a court document they cited concerns about the ‘inevitable effects of the resulting development, particularly the impacts of (most critically) engine fumes but also of noise, light, other forms of pollution and traffic intensification, residential amenity, and on the health and wellbeing of the 450 primary school children who attend Yerbury Primary School’.
Ms Moss said there had been ‘so much work’ done in recent years to improve air quality around the school and the outdoor environment for the children. ‘If Ocado come in, in one swoop all of that work is undone,’ she added.
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