12 March 2021
The NOcado campaign began at the start of 2020, shortly after our shocked community in Tufnell Park/Upper Holloway found out that Ocado had been given permission to open a 24/7 depot in a small vacant light industrial estate right next to a primary school and nursery. In fact, permission had been given months earlier, but the school and residents only found out when Ocado applied for planning permission for 3 diesel fuel pumps, floodlights, CCTV and a smoking shelter.
Many hundreds of hours of work have gone into the campaign; talking to planning lawyers, gathering and collating evidence to show that Ocado’s landlords misled the council to get permission, fundraising, leafletting, holding zoom or socially distanced protests and raising awareness through local and national media. We’ve been the subject of Radio 4’s The Untold and spoken on Vanessa Feltz. All in the middle of the Covid pandemic, and largely by parents also juggling work, childcare and home-schooling.
We all understand that food and goods need to be delivered into urban areas, but the rise of internet shopping, free online deliveries and next day, same day or even one-hour deliveries are all leading to companies wanting their depots to be located in the midst of the communities they are delivering to. The impact of these depots is a large increase in vehicle movements on local roads with the associated increase in air pollution and road danger, noise pollution for local residents and increased greenhouse emissions in a climate emergency.
The behaviour of Ocado highlights that these companies don’t care about the effect on the community, just as long as they are hitting their commercial targets. These companies are encouraging us to expect ever faster deliveries to our door; it is in their interest to do so, but the health of our communities, local businesses and the planet depend on considered and appropriate development. We need a green update to the planning system to take account of these new demands and strains on our communities.
Ocado are taking the council and the community to Judicial Review at the High Court. They are arguing against the councils’ decision to revoke their planning certificate, rather than applying for planning permission and providing pollution, traffic noise and environmental impact assessments. Ocado have continued building throughout the lockdown period despite having no permission to open the depot.
This is a true David and Goliath struggle: between ill-funded community campaigners and a company that has made billions from the current pandemic and can afford the most expensive lawyers and planning consultants in the business. If we lose this Judicial Review, Ocado have all they need to open a 24/7 depot with absolutely no conditions or limitations. This would set a terrible precedent.
Can you support the NOcado campaign? We need your help to protect the children of Yerbury Primary School and our local community against a noisy, polluting 24-hour distribution depot adjacent to the school - and to stop Ocado setting a dangerous national precedent. As Concerned Residents of Tufnell Park, we have been named as an interested party in a Judicial Review raised by Ocado. But without funding we’ll be locked out of the legal process. Pledge your support here.