Skyscrapers “tear the heart” out of Shoreditch, says mayor

Mayor Jules Pipe is heading the Save Shoreditch campaign. Pic: Hackney Council

Mayor Jules Pipe is heading the Save Shoreditch campaign. Pic: Hackney Council

A plan to build two skyscrapers in Shoreditch is being met with resistance from the Mayor of Hackney, who launched a campaign to stop the development.

In a petition meant to encourage London Mayor Boris Johnson to withdraw his support from the scheme, Mayor Jules Pipe said the towers would contain mostly luxury flats, making them out of reach for the majority of people living around Shoreditch High Street.

He said: “With one fell swoop this development could tear the heart out of the community and destroy the burgeoning creative and digital business cluster known as ‘Tech City’.”

Hackney Council was discussing an alternative scheme with the developers, including low-rise housing blocks and warehouse-style office space. But after receiving Johnson’s public support, they have “reverted to their original plans” which involved working with “a Shoreditch-based firm of architects.”

Alternative proposal to Bishopsgate Goods Yard. Pic: Hackney Council

Alternative proposal to Bishopsgate Goods Yard. Pic: Hackney Council

The Goodsyard project, which includes two skyscrapers, aims to turn the now derelict Bishopsgate Goodsyard into an £800 million residential and commercial complex located next to Shoreditch High Street underground station .The Goodsyard stood empty for nearly 50 years before any development interest was afforded to it.

Joint developers Hammerson and The Ballymore Group said the towers will be between 17 and 48 storeys tall, and will offer around 1500 flats, 500 000 square feet of office and commercial space, and a new 2.4 acre park. The project website also states the development is expected to bring more than 5000 jobs to the area.

In the petition, Mayor Pipe wrote: “There is a much better alternative to develop this site. The Council worked with a Shoreditch-based firm of architects to draw up a scheme that would be financially viable for the developers, comprise much lower buildings, which are far more in keeping with the unique character of Shoreditch.”

He said: “Skyscrapers may have a place in the city, but not in Shoreditch.”

Locals have taken to the petition’s comment section to show their support. Adrian McKinney, a Hackney resident, said: “We do not need luxury skyscrapers in Hackney” adding that they would “be detrimental to the fabric of the area”.

Michael Fitzpatrick, another resident, said “I am a local, and I don’t want massive buildings in my [neighbourhood]!”

The Victorian Society and the Spitalfields Society have also spoken out against the proposed developments.

The latter said: “The applications would cause substantial harm to the setting of designated heritage assets, including listed buildings and conservation areas.”

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