Pros & Cons of Green Lanes restaurants

Published: 25/08/2017

Residents say giant new Turkish restaurant on Green Lanes flouts rules to preserve the high street

Residents campaigning to shut down a Turkish restaurant that opened unlawfully in London’s “Little Istanbul” say a rapid rise in the number of places to eat and drink is killing their high street.
Sira Vanadokya, which opened at the weekend, takes up three shopfronts along Green Lanes in Harringay, which were knocked into one without full planning consent.

Objectors accuse the owners, who have been refused retrospective planning permission, of flouting rules designed to preserve the balance of the street scene. Fifty have written to Haringey council, saying traditional retailers have been squeezed out of Green Lanes over the past decade, leaving the street a “ghost town” by day.

However, the restaurant owners say the venue enhances the street’s reputation as a destination for Turkish and Kurdish cuisine, drawing parallels with foodie destinations such as Chinatown and Brick Lane, which attract customers from across the capital.

Michael Anderson, who has lived in the area for 33 years, said: “Fifteen years ago when we started to get restaurants around here I welcomed it because it had become deserted.
"But now it seems everyone has the same idea. A  lot of the ordinary trading shops are dying. We are at a tipping point.” Council figures show restaurants, pubs and takeaways comprise a quarter of the 142 units on the mile-long strip. 

Hugh Flouch, founder of community website Harringay Online, said: “I do use the local restaurants and it’s great we have a vibrant restaurant economy but I don’t want that to be all there is.
"People have talked about wanting a more diverse high street offer including things like a fish shop, a book shop and a stationers.” 

The Sira is made up of three units which the owners successfully applied to convert into three individual restaurants one by one over the past 12 months.
However, an overall application to permanently combine them into a single diner of 5,000 square feet, open from 7am until 2am daily, was refused last week. Objectors have complained about noise, cooking smells and public disorder from the bigger outlet, equivalent to the size of two tennis courts. 

One wrote: “We have no need of any further huge restaurants on this stretch of Green Lanes. To grant retrospective planning permission would send the message that local planning law is to be flouted by simply ignoring it.” In another objection sent to the council, Ian Sygrave, of residents’ group the Ladder Community Safety Partnership, accused the owners of using “dubious and murky” tactics in their attempt to change the building’s use. He added: “Every new loss of a shop undermines the viability of existing outlets and helps to reduce daytime footfall in favour of the night-time economy.”
In their council application, the owners said the venue was part of a cultural tradition of Turkish and Cypriot restaurants in Green Lanes which “will enhance the vibrancy and vitality of the town centre, particularly during festival times”. In a letter backing the new restaurant, Shefik Mehmet, chairman of Harringay Traders Association, said: “We like to draw similarities with Chinatown and Southall. Green Lanes is the Turkish equivalent.” 

Councillor Ali Ozbek said: “The exciting restaurants have not only added economic improvement but also helped neighbouring units to benefit.”

Haringey council said: “We are aware the site has started trading as a restaurant without planning permission and have passed this on to our enforcement team who are investigating further.”