Here's an email from Zac Goldsmith. Thank you for taking the time to raise the future of Sunny News to my attention. I commend your efforts to protect local business in your area. It is disappointing to hear that this business has come under threat, and this clearly does highlight the dangers posed to others across our city. Office to residential conversions is a policy which has been absolutely catastrophic for London. My local borough, Richmond, has lost a third of its office space to residential, and the effect of that is that thriving dynamic local spaces are becoming dormitory zones. It is evident that the issue deserves to be investigated further to prevent it from becoming widespread. I will pass on your concerns to my team and I await the outcome of your appeal to the local authorities with interest. I am committed to ensuring that London’s small businesses are protected and allowed to flourish. This why I am pushing for 30 mins free parking across London; this will boost local businesses and make it more convenient for residents to shop and go. Charging local residents for parking when they visit their local shops sends the wrong message and discourages people from supporting local businesses, which are such a vital part of our community. I strongly urge residents to get behind the thirty minutes free parking campaign. If I am elected Mayor I will ensure that small businesses are protected from landlords seeking to take advantage of the demand for residential housing. Whilst there is a pressing need increase the number of affordable homes in our city, this should not come at the price of businesses that are central to their community. I hope I can rely on your vote on May 5th to protect small businesses across London. Best wishes, Zac Goldsmith MP Conservative candidate for Mayor of London Visit backzac2016.com to see my action plan for London. Follow me on Twitter @ZacGoldsmith or on my Facebook page zacgoldsmith.
Sunny’s landlord has served him notice under his lease requiring possession of the shop and premises on the basis that he wants to convert the property to a private house and live there. If the landlord can demonstrate these grounds, then Sunny will be gone within six months.
Key to the landlord’s argument will be that he has planning permission for the conversion. If permission is granted, then Sunny’s case for remaining will be much weaker. Objecting to the planning has been a major focus of the fight to “Save Sunny News”.
As you know the application for planning permission to change the use of Sunny News from retail into residential was turned down by Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) but the Landlord appealed and on 27 January this year he had this successfully overturned by a Planning Inspector. This means that subject to a final period within which the appeal decision can be challenged (a process called a statutory review) consent will be granted and Sunny and Jamyi could be evicted within 90 days.
This challenge period was six weeks which expired on the 7th March and in that time Sunny has taken advice from local Barristers and Chartered Surveyors who have been acting on his behalf on a no-fee basis.
WBC also considered the case for challenging the decision and led by Cllr Ravi Govindia, met with Sunny and his advisors along with Justine Greening MP, Cllr Walsh, Cllr, Humphries, Cllr Caddy and council officers including the borough solicitor and head of planning. It was put to WBC that there were significant grounds to challenge the decision and whilst WBC agreed to take its own independent legal advice, it has – disappointingly – decided not to seek the statutory review itself.
Whilst Sunny has not been able to rely on the support of WBC to help him fight the decision, having carefully considered the advice he has received and given the strength of his argument that this appeal decision is flawed, he has decided to go it alone and apply for a statutory review himself. This decision is fraught with risk and potential cost to Sunny, but given the strength of his argument and the threat to his livelihood, he feels he has no other option.
The situation Sunny finds himself in is no fault of his own. His initial lease for the shop had expired and having been renewed once previously, the time had come for it to be renegotiated again. The Landlord had always told Sunny he was a good tenant.
However, during 2015 the law was changed to allow property such as shops and pubs etc, to have their use changed so they could be converted into residential property. The legislation was intended to bring disused properties back into use, as opposed to assisting owners in achieving the closure of successful businesses and evicting tenants such as Sunny. In many cases, other boroughs have ring-fenced commercial properties with what is called an Article 4 direction, to prevent such situations occurring, but in WBC’s case this has not been done, leaving Sunny vulnerable to the fact that property values have risen considerably in London to a level attractive to the landlord wanting to cash in.
In addition to all of you, Sunny has the support of Justine Greening MP, Baroness Jenny Jones in the London Assembly and Zac Goldsmith who agrees the way the legislation has been applied is flawed (see video — https://youtu.be/5pDou0H6hLo ). However, to date there has been no sign that Government will amend the law and hence Sunny is left to fight the appeal decision alone.
The Statutory Review has been submitted by Sunny. He is facing a difficult situation on many levels and we are sure you will want to continue the fantastic support you have given so far. Your letters, emails and support for the petition have made this issue more visible to decision-makers, so thank you for taking the time and effort to show your support.
You may recall last summer we held a concert for the community to show their support for Sunny and Jaymi, although neither of them had asked for this. From the money raised at this event we were able to pay for the Statutory Review to be issued earlier this month, which had cost Sunny £1500. This now leaves only a few hundred pounds left in the kitty to support him which isn't enough, especially now that he will have to use paid for professionals (solicitors, barristers and surveyors) to prove his case.
Whilst Sunny is not fighting this alone, he is risking significant costs against him if he fails so we the (Southfields Triangle Resident's Association - STRA) are launching this crowdfunding campaign to help raise some more funds to support Sunny in his fight to defeat the Planning Inspector and his landlord's claim for possession.
We would be very grateful if you are able to make a donation to help the Save Sunny News campaign to save the shop. The legal challenge is to stop our local shop from being forced to close but it will have a wider impact, if successful, of helping to protect other small, independent businesses which are now also threatened.
You can help spread the word by forwarding a link to this site on to others who may be able to help. We will keep you posted with updates on how things develop.
Thank you for your continued support to help Save Sunny News.