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Victorian Society slams Bishopsgate plans

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The Victorian Society has become the latest objector to plans to redevelop Bishopsgate Goodsyard, dubbing the high-rise scheme a ‘gross overdevelopment’

The society has joined a number of other conservation bodies to 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.

In a statement the Victorian Society said it was not opposed to the redevelopment in principle, but that ‘the current proposals, which include towers of up to 48 storeys, constitutes ‘gross overdevelopment’ which would cause ‘substantial harm’ to the setting of listed buildings and conservation areas’. The organisation also questioned the design quality of the new towers on the site.

The director of the Victorian Society, Christopher Costelloe, said: ‘The proposal’s design and access statement is 348 pages long, in 182 separate electronic files; much of it is repetitive and indulgent. This is more likely to deter scrutiny than clarify the designers’ intentions.

‘The large buildings proposed for this site do not reflect the quality of the historic buildings that will surround them. Nor do they adequately respond to their context. Their design is generic and undistinctive. In a suburb of Shenzhen they would be unremarkable; in central London they are completely unacceptable.’

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.

The Victorian Society has also objected to specific parts of the proposals including the demolition of areas of the Bishopsgate Goodsyard vaults, the demolition of Victorian residential buildings on Sclater Street, the demolition of the wall running round the edge of the site to Commercial Street and the separation of the Victorian gateway and Shoreditch high street.

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