A SHOPKEEPER is concerned his business will be demolished because of the new Elizabeth railway line.

Demetrios Papi, who is also known as Jimmy, opened Kristi’s Shoe Repairs, in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, 25 years ago.

The cobbler shop, which is the only shoe repair and key cutting establishment in the area, is located inside Ilford Station.

Although there is no set date yet, the station will at some point be completely rebuilt as part of the Crossrail programme to construct a new Elizabeth Line in honour of the UK’s longest serving monarch.

There will be a new entrance at Ilford Station, as well as a modernised ticket hall and new lifts.

Mr Papi, who lives in Brentwood, is unsure whether his shop will be offered any new space in the refurbished station.

The 59-year-old said: “I’m very unhappy, as I have worked so hard to make the shop a success and I do not want to let go so easily.

“I’m willing to wait to have another shop built in the station, but there has been no word on this yet from any official authority.

“My customers tell me on a daily basis that it is such an important business for the community, as they like the one-on-one personal service that they get.”

Mr Papi’s family members started a petition last week and more than 770 people have already signed it.

The petition explains that although the London Crossrail project will be a “welcomed improvement” to the town, the shoe shop should not lose its place in the community.

Katerina Papi, 20, is the daughter of Mr Papi and set up the petition with the hope of raising awareness about the plans.

She said: “My Dad has built the shop into a successful business over the years and it has become part of the fabric of Ilford.

“He has dedicated his life to this business and seeing how he has been treated throughout the process of the Crossrail development, we felt we had to do something.”

Mr Papi’s nephew, George Brittle, believes small businesses should not be diminished by redevelopment projects, as they are vital aspects of local communities.

The 18-year-old, who lives in Main Road, Romford, said: “Small businesses like Kristi’s need to be helped when it comes to situations like this, otherwise there will end up being none left.”

Howard Smith, TfL’s operations director for the Elizabeth line, said Mr Papi will be kept informed about the latest developments to the station and his shop.

He said: “Final designs for Ilford Station improvements for the Elizabeth line were submitted to the council last year.

“We have been keeping Mr Papi updated on our plans and we will continue to let him know when suitable retail locations become available.”

To sign the petition, visit: change.org/p/save-kristi-s-shoe-repairs