Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils look set to ‘refuse’ plans for Bishopsgate Goodsyard - even though the final decision has been taken out of their hands by London mayor Boris Johnson
In September, Johnson called in the controversial high-rise proposals, designed by a team led by PLP Architecture with FaulknerBrowns Architects and BuckleyGrayYeoman, because of worries the councils would take too long to decide them.
However both authorities have pressed on with determining the plans, with Hackney councillors expected to consider the merits of the huge City-fringe scheme on Thursday (10 December).
A strongly-worded report by Hackney’s planners recommending refusal claims the contentious development opposite the Tea Building is ‘better suited to Canary Wharf or Hong Kong than Shoreditch and Spitalfields’.
It added: ‘The quality of the architecture proposed is inferior, commercially driven and insensitive to the character of the general area in terms of overall design, detailing and choice of materials.
‘The new buildings and the design of them are generic, modern, characterless and do not fit into the surrounding areas.
The architecture is dull, monolithic and stylistically ’anywhere town’
‘[The] Proposed architecture is dull, monolithic and stylistically “anywhere town”.’
The planners also dispute developer Hammerson and joint venture partner Ballymore’s claims they can only afford to provide 10 per cent of the proposed 1,356 new homes as affordable.
A report prepared by planners says an independent review by BNP Paribas raises doubts over a viability assessment submitted by Hammerson to support its proposed figure.
Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe said: ’This [review] exposes for the first time the shoddy, downright misleading viability assessment on which the developers base their case.
‘Although they claim to owe the community no affordable housing and offer a paltry 10 per cent out of “goodwill”, the independent study by BNP Paribas found more than 30 per cent on site with a further £12 million towards off-site provision would be viable.
‘It identifies “distortion” and a “lack of transparency” throughout the developer’s assessment, argues they have ramped up their costs and downplayed profits, and predicts our communities would be short-changed by the current S106 money being offered.’
The planning report also said that the height of the buildings – up to 47 storeys – are out of character and that the proposed commercial space proposed is inadequate and would harm the future expansion of nearby Tech City.
Tower Hamlets will also make a recommendation for refusal on Thursday.
David Donoghue, spokesperson for campaign group More Light, More Power, said: ’Local people are furious about the disastrous Goodsyard proposals - 10,000 have already signed petitions against the scheme.
’It’s fantastic both boroughs are going ahead with the process of reviewing this planning application – despite the fact that Boris has called it in.’
In response Jonathon Weston, senior development manager at Ballymore, said: ’We believe our scheme is right for this site. The completed development will bring at least 7,000 jobs to the area in the next few years – including apprenticeships and construction jobs.
’The scheme’s office space has been designed by local architects, BuckleyGrayYeoman, with the intention of creating modern warehouse space that will cater for the evolving requirements of businesses that characterise Tech City.
We believe our scheme is right for this site
He added: ’When complete, The Goodsyard will also bring much needed homes to the area including a significant number of three, four and five bedroom properties, alongside flexible retail space and a public park.
’We continue to work with Hackney, Tower Hamlets and the GLA to progress the application towards a positive decision for our scheme.’