Much-loved Southfields newsagent at risk of closure as family fall victim to new planning laws

Southfield’s spirited community is rallying around family at risk of being ‘turfed out’ from their newsagents business after 29 years of service due to a new planning law.

Sunny Patel opened Sunny News on Wimbledon Park Road in 1987 and has lived there with his wife and two children ever since.

More than a year ago Mr Patel’s landlord took advantage of newly relaxed planning laws to begin the process of turning the shop in to residential premises.

“This will lead to a family being turfed out, it’s my livelihood and my home,” he said.

“It has had an impact on the whole family, my boy was in tears when he found out.”

Wandsworth Council unanimously rejected the initial application after 430 local residents signed a petition in opposition to the plans.

But in June the Government’s Planning Inspectorate overturned that decision and plunged Sunny and his family back in to uncertainty.

Mr Patel said: “We’ve had a lot of customers talking about the loss of a vital service to the community.

“They mean a lot to me because they provide me with a livelihood and I think I mean a lot to them too.

“I’ve seen a lot of people pass away and I’ve seen a lot of children who have become parents.”

A petition in reaction to the decision was set up by the Southfields Triangle Residents Association.

The group, which has preserved the areas interests since the 80s, is campaigning for the council to fight Mr Patel’s case.

Association chairman Steve Knight said. “You’ve got a family that’s lived there 30-odd years who are going to be thrown out with nowhere to live.

“Sunny’s fantastic, everyone knows him, even Justine Greening knows him, he’s all about the community.”

Mr Knight said there is a feeling in the community that the law being implemented was not necessarily designed for these purposes.

He said: “This law wasn’t designed to throw someone out of their house and to stop someone’s business.”

A council spokesman said: “We were bitterly disappointed to have our committee’s unanimous decision overturned by the planning inspectorate. This shop was granted Asset of Community Value status only last year and it is a much loved institution here in Southfields.

“This case clearly shows the limits and shortcomings of the planning system when it comes to recognising a site’s real value.”

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