Shine Shoreditch Shine

The atrium of the Light Bar in Shoreditch.

The atrium of the Light Bar in Shoreditch. Photo: Shoreditch Light Bar

Hackney Council’s planning committee finally approved developer Hammerson’s plans for redeveloping an area of Shoreditch on Wednesday night, in front of a full audience at Hackney Town Hall.

The £500 million Bishops Place regeneration project includes three skyscrapers on a site between Norton Folgate and Worship Street.

Hammerson submitted plans in 2007 that scheduled the demolition of the Light Bar. A grassroots campaign led by concerned neighbors followed, with the help of local celebrities such as Madness front man Suggs and artist artist Tracey Emin.

The outcry led the planning committee to extend the South Shoreditch conservation area to include the Light Bar on 233 Shoreditch High Street. As a result, Hammerson submitted a revised application last year.

This time, the revised application passed, with objections from the Open Shoreditch and South Shoreditch Conservation Area groups noted.

Both groups opposed the projects on aesthetic grounds, noting that the skyscrapers will rob the area of much-needed sunlight.

There will be still be changes to the Light Bar. The rear entrance of the building will be demolished and rebuilt.

Councillor Kevin Moore raised the question of why it was necessary to remove the rear of the building.

Moore, who is also a member of the conservation group the Victorian Society, said; “When we originally asked for this to be referred, I think we all expected the whole building to be retained. I’m slightly confused because I can’t understand which bits of the building are supposed to be demolished.”

Committee chair Vincent Stops explained to Moore that as far as the committee was concerned, the part of the building which slopes down was “a minor part” of the building.

Stops made a joke after Moore raised concerns about what kind of structure was going to be put in the razed area, and whether it was going to be true to the Victorian roots of the building.

“We don’t do pastiche. We’ve got five years to come up with something,” Stops noted, bringing a laugh from the packed audience, while referencing Hammerson’s five-year option on the property.

The next meeting of the planning committee is scheduled for Wednesday, 2 December.

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