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Called in: Mayor to decide Bennetts' plans for London Fruit and Wool Exchange

London mayor Boris Johnson has stepped in over Bennetts Associates’ contentious plans to redevelop the London Fruit and Wool Exchange site next to Spitalfields Market in London

Earlier this month Tower Hamlets’s planning committee went against its own officers’ recommendations and decided to block the practice’s proposed office and shopping-led scheme which includes the demolition of a multi-storey dar park, the Gun Pub and a bank.

Now Johnson has decided to call in that decision claiming that the proposed scheme did not breach planning policy and ‘would generate employment to support London’s world city status.’

According to a statement released by the mayor, Johnson believes the project for developer Exemplar would ‘play an important part in completing the regeneration of Spitalfields’ (see full statement attached).

The designs had come in for criticism from a number of campaign groups including Spitalfields Community Action and the Spitalfields Historic Building Trust - an organisation backed by broadcaster Dan Cruickshank.

A decision from the mayor is expected over the next two to three months.

Previous story (AJ 06.06.2012)

Thrown out: Bennetts’ plans for London Fruit and Wool Exchange

Tower Hamlets council has rejected Bennetts Associates’ contentious plans to redevelop the London Fruit and Wool Exchange site next to Spitalfields Market in London

The borough’s planning committee went against its own officers’ recommendations and decided to block the practice’s proposed office and shopping-led scheme for the plot which would have seen the demolition of a multi-storey dar park, the Gun Pub and a bank.

Only the facade of the 1929 Fruit and Wool Exchange on Brushfield Street would have been retained.

The project for developer Exemplar had come in for criticism from a number of campaign groups including Spitalfields Community Action and the Spitalfields Historic Building Trust - an organisation backed by broadcaster Dan Cruickshank.

In the weeks leading up to the planning committee hearing the Trust had revealed its own rival proposals, drawn up by Johnstons Architecture and Design, which would have ‘preserved more of the historic fabric’ of the east London plot.

Johnston Architecture and Designs' alternative proposals for te plot revealed in April

Johnston Architecture and Designs’ alternative proposals

Speaking after the refusal a ‘disappointed’ Rab Bennetts, director at Bennetts Associates, said: ‘After more than two years of public consultation and having received positive feedback about the design from interested parties, we [were] confident that our scheme would have significantly enhanced a very important building.

‘Although the design of the scheme received support, there are numerous other factors at play when working on such a prominent scheme. We are in the process of discussing with our client the best way to respond to this decision.’

Exemplar director Clive Bush added: ‘Refusal of the application is a missed opportunity to create over 3,000 jobs and bring significant investment to Spitalfields which has been strongly backed by council policy. From the support received we know many local people will be disappointed that this site will potentially remain empty for years to come.

‘We will review the reasons given for refusal and consider our next steps in due course.’

It is understood the developer is considering an appeal.

 

Previous story (AJ 01.09.10)

Bennetts to overhaul London Fruit and Wool Exchange site

Bennetts Associates has landed the prize job of redeveloping the London Fruit and Wool Exchange site next to Spitalfields Market in London

The practice was chosen ‘following a competitive pitch’ by developer Exemplar Properties, which has just signed a development agreement with the City of London Corporation for the plot, and will now draw up plans for a 28,000m² mixed-use office and retail scheme.

Sitting across form Foster + Partners’ Bishop Square development at Spitalfields, the existing 1929 building designed by architect Sidney Perks has only been let on short term basis to allow the ‘long-held aspiration’ to regenerate the block.

Plans for the site, which includes Whites Row Car Park, will be submitted early next year.

Bennetts Associates' will mastermind the overhaul of the 1929 London Wool and Fruit Exchange

Bennetts Associates’ will mastermind the overhaul of the 1929 London Wool and Fruit Exchange

Exemplar Properties director Daniel Van Gelder said: ‘The London Fruit and Wool Exchange site is one of the final pieces in the regeneration of Spitalfields.

‘Plans will now be developed in close consultation with the local community and other stakeholders to ensure the proposals fully respect their surroundings.’

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