Skyscrapers that will block out sun face backlash

Proposed development site, Bishopsgate Goodsyard. Credit: Jeremy Freedman.

Proposed development site, Bishopsgate Goodsyard. Credit: Jeremy Freedman.

Almost 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for Boris John to reject a proposal to build a 46-storey building in east London.

The £800million development, a joint venture between developers Hammerson and Ballymore, will see the erection of six towers from 15-48 storeys high in the Bishopsgate Goodsyard in the heart of Shoreditch.

If the plans go ahead, a study commissioned by developers reveals that 44% of nearby buildings would lose sunlight for large parts of the day.

An online petition, run by local campaign group ‘More Light More Power’, was set up earlier this year to lobby against the development.

5,562 supporters have already signed the petition (at time of writing) but Jeremy Freedman, local resident and photographer for the group, said they need even more support.

“We demand and we deserve better and this development threatens to undermine what we think is a culturally rich area,” he said. “We are looking to get 20,000 locals to sign it.”

The area has been in decline for a number of years since a fire broke out at the station in 1964.

This prompted international property developers Hammerson and The Ballymore Group to submit plans to redevelop The Goodsyard, which sits between Spitalfields and Commercial Street in Shoreditch.

However, local residents and campaigners wanted a dismissal of the proposed plans for the derelict site and claim it is counterproductive and “regeneration in reverse”.

David Donaghue, an activist working with More Light More Power said: “They are not providing anything for the people, it is actually taking away their sunlight.

“It is the worst development I have ever come across. A number of people I know here now regard these developers as leeches of society.”

The developers have offered to build a 5-acre park, but local residents say that due to the positioning of the park, it may not receive any sunlight after 4pm in the summer.

Freedman said: “We are not nimbys. We want development but we want the right one.

“We need affordable housing on a piece of public land and what they are proposing are luxury apartments that investors will buy but no one will live in. It is outrageous”

The plan also consists of 1,356 residential units, over 65,000 sqm of office space and over 17,000 sqm of retail space. Two towers will be 46 and 38 storeys high, five further towers to be between 17 and 30 storeys high.

Local residents have cited the “failure to address a critical need for affordable housing” as one of their many issues with the proposals.

Andy Taylor, who signed the petition, said: “London needs more affordable housing, not inappropriate high-rises, and any planning decisions should be made through a democratically accountable process, not by one man.”

Campaigners also say that developers don’t respect the many heritage assets of the site, as well as the existing culture and community of the Shoredtich, Spitalifields and Brick Lane areas.

In a letter addressed to Mayor John Biggs on September 22, Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe said: “I am disgusted at the decision to call in this development to City Hall for determination.

“It shows outrageous disregard for the local democratic planning process and demonstrates complete contempt for the residents and businesses of Hackney and Tower Hamlets.”


The petition can be found here.

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