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Boris steps in again: London mayor calls in second major scheme

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London mayor Boris Johnson has used his special planning powers to call in the high-rise proposals for Bishopsgate Goodsyard, claiming the plans had not been assessed quickly enough

The move comes just days after Johnson also stepped in to decide the fate of the nearby Norton Folgate development - a contentious 32,550m2 scheme backed by British Land which was turned down by Tower Hamlets’ councillors in July.

It is understood Hackney and Tower Hamlets are still considering significant amendments to the scheme for the Bishopsgate Goodsyard site on the City fringe which were submitted in June by a design team led by PLP Architecture with FaulknerBrowns Architects and BuckleyGrayYeoman.

However Greater London Authority planners fear the two boroughs are holding up the application for the massive £800million development around Shoreditch High Station.

A report prepared by the GLA said: ‘[The] complexities of determining a cross-boundary application; the economic benefits to central London; the length of time that has elapsed since the application was submitted; and having regard in particular to Tower Hamlets’ poor performance on housing and affordable housing delivery and Hackney’s likely ability to deliver its target for employment growth (given its performance to date), there are significant impacts in the implementation of the London Plan [and there are] sound planning reasons to intervene in this instance’.

The intervention was prompted by correspondence from planning consultant DP9 to the GLA on behalf of developers Hammerson and Ballymore, requesting a call-in of the plans.

Its letter said: ‘The applicant has very significant concerns about the likelihood of obtaining a decision on these applications within a reasonable timescale, an issue underlined by the lack of any feedback from the boroughs following the closure of the statutory consultation period at the end of July 2015.’

It complained that no committee date had been set by the councils to consider the proposals, and said that a disagreement about affordable housing levels meant that there was ‘no realistic prospect of decisions being taken on the applications within a reasonable timescale’.

However, the claims were disputed in a joint letter in response from John Allen, assistant director of planning and regulatory services at London Borough of Hackney, and Owen Whalley, service head of planning and building control at London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

It said that the developers had presented an ‘over simplified summary’ of concerns raised through the application consultation process and that the decision making timescales had been driven by the applicant.

The letter reads: ‘It is important to note that the boroughs are currently considering significant revisions to the original submission, which involve a complete replacement of the submitted documents. The boroughs have shown considerable and appropriate flexibility in agreeing to consider these revisions as a minor amendment to the ongoing application.’

In addition, the letter said that there were a number of inadequacies with the scheme’s submitted environmental information ‘such that, if planning permission was to be granted, such decision would be susceptible to challenge’.

In its report recommending call-in the GLA said: ‘All these points are fully acknowledged and in most cases appreciated. However, the application remains undetermined and uncertainty of the councils’ position remains’.

In August, Hackney mayor Jules Pipe slammed the amended proposals for Bishopsgate Goodsyard as ‘superficial tinkering’ and urged residents to resist them.


Previous story (AJ 09.06.15)

Bishopsgate opponents blast revised plans for Goodsyard

Campaigners have slammed the latest proposals for Bishopsgate Goodsyard, accusing developers behind the £800million scheme of reducing the allocation of affordable homes

Local community group More Light More Power has described the amendments submitted to plans drawn up by PLP, FaulknerBrowns Architects and Buckley Gray Yeoman as a ‘disappointingly critical failure to provide adequate provision of affordable homes’. The numbers, campaigners claims, have dropped from 1464 to 1365.

David Donoghue, spokesperson for More Light, More Power said: ‘Regretably, the revised scheme does not adequately address the appalling effect of looming towers being imposed on a thriving low-rise community of businesses and residents.’

The campaign group state that despite the publication of revised designs - which include a second reduction in height of the taller blocks - the scheme for Hammerson and Ballymore still has ‘seven inappropriately tall towers on the site including one monster of 46 storeys’.

Initial proposals for the City fringe site were criticised by local campaigners and conservation bodies, including the Victorian Society, who branded the high-rise scheme a ‘gross overdevelopment’, claiming it would cause ‘substantial harm’ to the setting of listed buildings and conservation areas’.

In the amended proposals submitted to planners three of the towers have been cut by four storeys - to 26, 30 and 38 storeys respectively - with the tallest 48-storey skyscraper on plot F trimmed by the ‘equivalent’ of one storey.

In addition, many of the one bedroom flats in the original plans have been enlarged to two bedroom units, leading to a reduction of the overall homes proposed for the site around Shoreditch High Street station from 1,464 to 1,356. Just 10 per cent of the apartments will be classed as affordable homes.

Donoghue added: ‘We have been in open discussion with the developers for many months and are bitterly disappointed that the views of the local residential and business communities have not been taken into account.

We’re bitterly disappointed the views of locals have not been taken into account

‘The unique site, currently in the centre of London creative Tech City hub has been derelict for 50 years. It deserves a markedly higher quality, imaginative and innovative scheme to create a world class development for London to be proud of.

‘We are calling on Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils and the GLA to reject this scheme outright.’

The campaign group have launched a new petition requesting that the proposals be rejected. Developers Ballymore and Hammerson declined to comment.


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