Campaigners fighting a proposed high-rise development of the Bishopsgate goodsyard site in Shoreditch are anxiously awaiting a decision from Mayor Boris Johnson on whether the plans, already rejected by two local councils, will go ahead.
The Mayor overruled Tower Hamlets Council earlier this week over another redevelopment plan, converting old warehouses in Norton Folgate, Spitalfields. Opponents of the plan to redevelop the much larger 11-acre goodsyard site behind Shoreditch High Street station, which is the size of seven and a half football pitches, are fearful that the goodsyard decision could go the same way as Norton Folgate.
Developers Hammerson and Ballymore want to build high rise apartments, shops and offices on the derelict site. The tallest of the towers would be 177-metres, almost as tall as the 180-metre Gherkin.
After both Hackney and Tower Hamlets planning committees recommended the high-rise plan be rejected, the application was ‘called in’ to the Mayor’s office in September for a decision.
Protestors fear that the towers could obstruct natural light. ‘More Light, More Power’ held a public meeting at St Hilda’s East Community Centre, Club Row on Sunday and gather signatures for a petition, calling for a last-minute rethink.
Campaign group spokesman and longtime resident of the area David Donaghue said: “The councils were dealing with the development but lots of questions have been unanswered as to the nature of the development. They didn’t have all the material they needed to consider it. “
It was, he added, a very complicated site and a complicated development. “The power now lies with Boris, hopefully he will defer the application or decline it. This development will kill a community for generations.”
‘More Light More Power’ is in support of a mid-rise development that would provide affordable housing and integrate with the area.
Tower Hamlets Councillor John Pierce accused the developers of not listening to local people and said not enough affordable housing was included in the plans. “It’s really that they came forward with a proposal of towers that will eclipse the neighborhood. This is not the type of affordable housing that meets local needs”.
Jonathon Weston, senior development manager at Ballymore Group, rejected claims of light obstruction. He said: “From the end of February to the end of October there will be no extra impact on overshadowing for the boundary estate. At other times there will be additional overshadowing, less than 30 minutes on average per day.”
Hammerson and Ballymore were hoping for a positive decision about the scheme, he added, saying: “Our current proposals also provide a total 800,000 sq ft of office space of which 10 per cent will be affordable workspace, and at least 7,000 jobs, including apprenticeships and construction jobs.
“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.”