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Spitalfields Society condemns 'cynical' Bishopsgate plans

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The Spitalfields Society has condemned the revised plans for the Bishopsgate Goodyard calling them ‘cynical’ and ‘beyond comprehension’.

The society has joined other campaigners in opposing the reworked proposals for the east London site drawn up by PLP, FaulknerBrowns Architects and Buckley Gray Yeoman on behalf of joint venture backers Ballymore and Hammerson.

The plans, which opened for public consultation last week, were recently resubmitted to Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils after being reduced in height and scale (see Bishopsgate redesign: fewer homes, less glass and shorter towers).

In a letter to Tower Hamlets Council Rupert Wheeler on behalf of the Spitalfields Society said that its 17 previous objections to the scheme were ‘still relevant’ and hadn’t been satisfied by recent amendments. The Society also outlined concerns about the developers’ decision to drop ceiling heights to reduce the number of storeys on the main tower blocks, which it described as a ‘cynical move’.

In his letter Wheeler said: ‘We repeat our objection to the arrangement of the seven residential towers as a ‘wall of towers’ along the south side of the Bethnal Green Road where they are guaranteed to cause the maximum overshadowing of the low rise properties on the north side of this road and throughout the Redchurch Street Conservation Area.’

He added: ‘The reduction in floor to ceiling heights is also an appalling and cynical move to obtain consent for the maximum number of units at the expense of the quality of accommodation by reducing the room heights to all the flats.

The reduction in floor to ceiling heights is an appalling move

‘It seems they have no more concern for their prospective occupants than they do for the local community in proposing this monstrous and brutal development in the first place.’

Speaking about the reduction in affordable housing in the revised plans, Wheeler said that such a low figure was unreasonable considering the land was currently owned by Network Rail, which recently became a public body, with the land at Bishopsgate currently under public ownership.

He added: ‘The amendments have actually reduced the amount of housing and therefore the amount of affordable housing. It is beyond comprehension and entirely unreasonable that the redevelopment of land in the ownership of a publically funded institution should fail to provide at least the level of affordable housing required by the Local Authority.

‘For the developer to offer only 10 per cent when the target is 50 per cent is wholly unacceptable and shows a complete disdain and disregard for the desperate need for affordable housing in the area, and particularly for housing for the key workers that the City desperately needs.

‘It feels as though a vital part of the East End is being stolen from us by this brutal scheme, simply to provide luxury flats for foreign investors that will lie vacant forever, casting a dead shadow over the once vibrant area of Shoreditch.’

The Spitalfields objections join those of local community group More Light More Power, which last month described the amendments submitted to plans as a ‘disappointingly critical failure to provide adequate provision of affordable homes’.

In February Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe has also raised concerns over the scheme and launched a petition against the plans which are estimated to cost between £800million and £1billion. Earlier this year Hackney Council revealed rival plans, drawn up by architects Gensler and Lambert Smith Hampton for an alternative employment-led scheme on the site which was low-rise and included more affordable housing.

In the amended proposals submitted to planners three of the towers have been cut by four storeys - to 26, 30 and 38 storeys respectively - with the tallest 48-storey skyscraper on plot F trimmed by the ‘equivalent’ of one storey.

In addition, many of the one bedroom flats in the original plans have been enlarged to two bedroom units, leading to a reduction of the overall homes proposed for the site around Shoreditch High Street station from 1,464 to 1,356. Approximately 10 per cent of the apartments will be classed as affordable homes.

The campaign group More Light More Power has launched a new petition requesting that the proposals be rejected. Developers Ballymore and Hammerson declined to comment.

Ballymore and Hammerson declined to comment.


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