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Big names line up to attack contentious Norton Folgate plans

Blossom Street/North Folgate scheme for British Land by AHMM et al - rejected July 2015
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A group of figures from the arts,including playwright Alan Bennett, have joined conservation campaigners in calling for a planning inquiry into controversial plans for the redevelopment at Norton Folgate.

Last month, London mayor Boris Johnson approved the Blossom Street scheme by AHMM, Duggan Morris, DSDHA and Stanton Williams under his powers of call-in.

Heritage campaigners have since been granted a judicial review of Johnson’s move to take over as planning authority on the proposed City-fringe project (see AJ 29.01.15).

Now, in a letter to The Times, the actors, authors and historians have added their weight to the schemes’ opponents, claiming the current plans for developer British Land are ‘banal’.

The letter said: ‘We urge Greg Clark, the communities and local government secretary, to call in — and hold a planning inquiry into — the planning applications threatening Norton Folgate in Spitalfields.

‘This historic conservation area on the fringes of the City is imperilled by plans by British Land to demolish a swathe of buildings for a banal office-led scheme.’

It called Johnson’s decision to call-in the scheme ‘shameful’.

The signatories claim an alternative scheme drawn up by Burrell Foley Fischer Architects for the Spitalfields Trust ‘provides in-fill in keeping with the scale and character of the area as well as serving the interests of local businesses and the need for housing in the borough’.

It added that this scheme could be delivered for a fraction of the proposed development cost.

The signatories to the letter are: Rohan Silva, adviser to the prime minister 2010-13; Jeanette Winterson; Dan Cruickshank; Alan Bennett; Charles Saumarez Smith, CEO, Royal Academy; John Nicolson MP; Suggs McPherson, Madness; Clem Cecil, director, SAVE; Tim Knox, director, Fitzwilliam Museum; Ralph Fiennes; Jonathan Pryce; Julie Christie; Miriam Margolyes; Dame Sian Phillips; David Bailey, photographer; Mark Girouard, architectural historian; Rupert Thomas, editor, World of Interiors; and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, garden historian.

A spokesman for British Land said: ’We are aware that the Spitalfields Trust has requested that our Blossom Street scheme be called in for a public inquiry.

’The Mayor of London has already tested issues of strategic importance and resolved to grant consent after giving the Spitalfields Trust the opportunity to make its case in a full public hearing. We are committed to building the scheme as soon as possible and ening a history of repeated delay and failed redevelopment on this site stretching back over ten years.’

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