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Foster + Partners accused of misleading Bishop's Place public consultation

Foster + Partners has been accused of misleading a public consultation about the reasons for demolishing an East London building which stands in the way of the practice’s Bishop’s Place scheme, for developer Hammerson.

According to campaigners trying to save the late-19th-century building at 233 Shoreditch High Street – known as The Light because it generated the first electric light for Liverpool Street Station – Foster and the scheme’s planner, DP9, claimed that the building had to go as a matter of course to allow Network Rail provision for extra rail tracks to Liverpool Street Station.

Wayne Hincks, local resident, architect and a member of the South Shoreditch Conservation Area Action Committee (SSCAAC) said: ‘Foster has told the public that 233 Shoreditch High Street needs to be demolished to make way for an eight-track rail-link into Liverpool Street.

‘When we met with DP9 and Foster on 15 April [2008], Foster associate partner Daniel Poehner reiterated this to us, which to us seems directly at odds with what the chief executive of Network Rail [Ian Coucher] says.’

Hincks forwarded the AJ a copy of a letter dated 15 January 2008 in which Coucher wrote: ‘Network Rail has not submitted any plans or made any application for development in this area which would require the demolition of property, and we are unaware of any proposals from any other party affecting the railway.’

Hincks added: ‘[The second preplanning exhibition report for the scheme shows that] no requirement seems to exist to create a tunnel beneath the existing building, it is only a requirement for any “new building” on the site, so that new buildings do not prevent the possibility of this eight-track line in the future.’

But Joanna Axon, project director for Hammerson, said: ‘Network Rail has made clear to us [in a letter from Network Rail infrastructure manager Stephen Longden], that passenger demand is growing and “this demand is set to continue well into the future”, so our proposals respond by making this eight-track safeguarding provision. As the letter from Network Rail makes clear, any new building has to take account of the eight-track option.’

The 35-storey, L-shaped Bishop’s Place building one will have 76,500m2 of office space. Building two will be 11 storeys, with 20,000m2 of office space, while building three will be a 51-storey tower – the tallest in the scheme. Buildings four and five will each have 16 storeys, with a mix of private and affordable housing.

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