The Victorian Society has welcomed news that developer Hammerson may rethink its Bishopsgate Goodsyard’s plans - but is still demanding wholescale changes to the controversial proposals
Early this week the developer admitted it was reviewing the feedback received following the recent statutory consultation, adding that there ‘may well be some amendments made to the overall scheme following these discussions’.
In a statement released today (20 February), the Victorian Society said it was glad Hammerson had noted the wide range of groups objecting to the current plans and hoped it signalled ‘a serious overhaul’ of the plans.
The society is the latest of a number of other conservation bodies who have raised concerns over Terry Farrell’s masterplan for 1,500 homes, 50,000m² of offices and up to 20,000m² of shops on the former railway yard in Shoreditch, east London.
Last month the society issued a statement stating it was not opposed to the redevelopment in principle, but that ‘the current proposals, which include towers of up to 48 storeys, constituted ‘gross overdevelopment’ which would cause ‘substantial harm’ to the setting of listed buildings and conservation areas’.
In a letter to Hackney and Tower Hamlets Councils the society argued that the large buildings proposed do not reflect the quality of the historic buildings that will surround them.
Director of the Victorian Society Christopher Costelloe, said: ‘Let’s hope these comments signal a serious rethink and are not just paying lip service to listening to the community. Our letter makes several suggestions which could easily be incorporated in to the site design to better connect it with its heritage.’
The Victorian Society has also objected to specific parts of the proposals including the demolition of areas of the Bishopsgate Goodsyard vaults, the flattening of Victorian residential buildings on Sclater Street, the destruction of the wall running round the edge of the site to Commercial Street.
In its recent statement Hammerson said that it had never ruled out changes to the plans and had listened to the feedback, adding: ‘The commercial element of the scheme was only submitted in outline [and] it was always the intention…to work with local businesses and interested stakeholders to continue to define the exact detail of that offer.
‘[We] recently appointed Shoreditch architectural practice, Buckley Gray Yeoman, to progress the design proposals for the office and workshop space, some of which will be for independent businesses and start-ups, to ensure the new office accommodation delivers the right type of space for businesses in the area and those looking to move to one of London’s most exciting commercial districts.’
The mixed-use proposals for the 4.2ha site which straddle the border between Tower Hamlets and Hackney boundary were submitted for planning in July and encompass Shoreditch High Street Station. The plans for developer Hammerson-Ballymore include a cluster of high-rise residential towers and an elevated park above the Grade-II listed Braithwaite Viaducts.
The scheme has been drawn up with PLP Architecture, which is responsible for the new homes, FaulknerBrowns Architects, the design team working on the retail element and Buckley Gray Yeoman. Local campaign group More Light More Power has fought the development, stating that it is out of proportion for the area and compared the scheme to the plague. In November the Spitalfield Society has also objected to the proposals.
In December it was revealed that plans for the Goodsyard could be derailed by a major new station on the site after Network Rail mooted the option as part of its plans for the next round of infrastructure investment.