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Campaigners begin battle against AHMM's Shoreditch Estate scheme

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Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust has launched a new campaign to stop British Land ‘obliterating’ a conservation area in Shoreditch, east London

Extensive plans drawn up by an AHMM-led team for the Norton Folgate area on the City fringe, have been heavily criticised by the heritage group who say the 32,550m² scheme will result in more than 70 per cent of the building stock being torn down.

In the same area in 1977, a headline-grabbing fight took place between British Land and Elder Street residents - under the newly formed Spitalfields Trust banner. The group who successfully campaigned to save the Georgian houses from being demolished to make way for a large-scale commercial development.

The new ‘Blossom Street’ scheme is being designed by AHMM with Duggan Morris, DSDHA and Stanton Williams and will include office space, 40 flats and 13 shops as well as around 1,400m² of public space. The development went into planning in December last year (2014).

Now, the trust is preparing for battle once again and is launching an exhibition to illustrate the threat to the historic neighbourhood, which they say will bury the site ‘under a hideous corporate plaza’.

What the area would look like after demolition, according to the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust [image 2015]

An image showing the amount of demolition under the British Land proposals, according to the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust [image 2015]

Tim Whittaker, co-director of the trust, added: ‘The British Land proposal does not make an adequate enough contribution to the pool of jobs and housing for local people. It is aimed at large corporations while offering little to the tech industries and smaller businesses [that are] so successful in this part of the East End’.

Later today (12 February) the trust will also open a new exhibition showcasing an alternative vision that ‘respects rather than destroys the history and architectural precedent’ of the conservation area.

Responding to the criticism Nigel Webb, head of development at British Land, said that the team had been through a process of ‘constructive engagement’ with Tower Hamlets council, English Heritage and CABE, and that the proposals had been inspired by the Georgian houses in the area.

‘This is a heritage-led scheme in a conservation area, which will not only integrate with and enhance its surroundings, but provide a bridge between the City of London and Shoreditch’, he said.

On the engagement process for the development, architectural historian and long-term Elder Street resident, Dan Cruickshank told Spitalfields Life that the consultation just added insult to injury.

‘It was simply the presentation of a worked-out design - with the public’s role being to comment on a strategy and details already decided’, he said.

A launch event is hosted by Dan Cruickshank and Jonathan Pryce at Elder Street on Thursday 12 February at 6.00pm. Exhibition at Dennis Severs House 18 Folgate Street.

In 1977 the newly formed Spitalfields Trust including Dan Cruickshank and with the support of Sir John Betjeman, stopped British Land from redeveloping Elder St in Spitalfields.

In 1977 the newly formed Spitalfields Trust including Dan Cruickshank and with the support of John Betjeman, stopped British Land from redeveloping Elder Street in Spitalfields.

  • Blossom Street

    Campaigners begin battle against AHMM's Shoreditch Estate scheme

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