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Spitalfields Society blasts Bishopsgate plans

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The Spitalfields Society has called on Tower Hamlets Council to throw out Farrell’s Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme in east London, branding it the worst proposal it had ever seen

The local community group said the proposals, whose masterplan was drawn up by Farrells on behalf of developers Ballymore and Hammerson, undermined the ‘historic, cultural and commercial aspects’ of the area as well as threatening the success of the burgeoning creative industries quarter in nearby Shoreditch.

Writing on behalf of the Spitalfields Society Rupert Wheeler said: ‘This is the most poorly conceived and damaging development that this Society has ever been asked to review. It promises to undermine a great many aspects of the area, whether historic, social, cultural, or commercial, that local residents, the working community and the great many visitors to the area love and value.

‘It also undermines the astonishingly successful and highly valuable growth of the creative, media and tech industries in the area with the greatest concentration of start-up businesses in the country. This would be an astonishing own-goal if it were allowed to happen and would be a massive loss to the area, to London and to the country as a whole.

He added: ‘It is regeneration in reverse. It is in fact degeneration.’

The Society has pinpointed 17 areas which it states make the scheme ‘grossly out of character’ and ‘incompatible with the surrounding townscape’.

The group also raised concerns over the loss of light which the new towers will have on nearby properties, overshadowing, the increased sense of enclosure, damage to present businesses and lack of affordable housing.

Developers Ballymore and Hammerson submitted a hybrid planning application to both Tower Hamlets and Hackney in July, with detailed elements including four residential along with retail and the refurbishment of listed buildings.

Outline elements comprise 58,500m²of commercial space, three additional residential buildings, a new park and open space. PLP Architecture has been appointed to draw up plans for new homes on the site and FaulknerBrowns Architects is working on the retail elements. BuckleyGrayYeoman has also been recently drafted in to look at offices and workshop space.

The proposals have been vociferously rejected by local community group More Light More Power, which has campaigned to have the plans either radically changed of scrapped entirely since the scheme was submitted for planning.

Speaking to the AJ last month David Donoghue of More Light More Power said: ‘As well as the architectural and design issues, we are particularly concerned that this development addresses some of the major social inequalities that exist including the need for affordable housing for local people and employment and training provision.

He added: ‘This scheme will have a massive affect on the area for generations to come: we need to get it right.’

Back in October a spokesperson for the development team said: ‘Our vision for The Goodsyard is to open up a fantastic space in the heart of London’s most interesting areas, one that has been hidden from view for far too long, and create a place for people to live, work, relax do business, be inspired and exhilarated.

‘[We have] been in dialogue with the community from The Goodsyard’s inception back in 2009 right through to submission of the planning application and will continue to do so.

He added: ‘We firmly believe that this is the right scheme to help to tackle London’s housing crisis, provide a new elevated park with city views unrivalled in the world, bring the historic arches back into use through a unique retail offer, provide the opportunity for local creative industries to shape the new commercial space and to create at least 5000 new jobs which we’re committed to ensuring that local people can access.’

Hammerson has been asked for further comment on the Spitalfields Society’s statement.

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