Hackney Mayor calls proposal for luxury flats ‘a particular obscenity’

The conference on Bishopgate construction, with Jules Pipe (l) and John Biggs. Pic Mike Brooke

The conference on Bishopgate construction, with Jules Pipe (l) and John Biggs. Pic Mike Brooke

A massive £800 million development of luxury flats, priced at more than £800,000 each on the boarders of Tower Hamlets and Hackney was an ‘obscenity’ a protest meeting heard on Monday.

The meeting was led by Jules Pipe, the Mayor of Hackney and John Biggs,  the Mayor of Tower Hamlets who are opposing the six new towers of luxury flats cross roughly 4.4 hectares of land at Bishopsgate Goodsyard.

The development scheme is a joint project between development firms Hammerson and Ballymore.

Pipe described the development as “a particular obscenity” He added “Those luxury towers will never be less than £1 million a flat, meaning even if they were providing affordable housing they would run straight to the mayor of London’s definition of affordable and they would be offering one bedroom flats for £800,000, is that affordable? In City Hall’s world, that’s affordable”

The planning application for the area was submitted in July 2014 and since then, it has fallen under great scrutiny. Local people and both Hackney and Tower Hamlets council, pressured Hammerson and Ballymore to reconsider plans.

The revisions were released in June 2015, which introduced a new scheme to incorporate 10 per cent of affordable, housing into the development, and lowering the tallest tower from 48 to 46 storeys.

However, the revised development plan has yet to satisfy Pipe, who spoke at an open Bishopsgate Goodsyard Debate in Shoreditch on Monday. The debate was organized by More Light More Power and The Hackney Society, local campaign groups working to preserve the Shoredtich area.


A CGI impression of the development Pic: Hammerson & Ballymore

A CGI impression of the development Pic: Hammerson & Ballymore

Biggs said: “The mayor of London is making a lazy decision because he’s obsessed with numbers and he hasn’t really thought through the implications of this.”

“We have directly unaffordable affordable housing”, he said.

Hammerson and Ballymore claim the regeneration is the most profitable way to provide much needed housing and plenty of employment. Hammerson and Ballymore claim 7,000 jobs will be created by the development in the next few years, including apprenticeships and construction jobs.

But Pipe referred to this as “completely untrue”.

“They’re planning to build it because an obscene amount of profit will be made out of this,” he said.

Gensler, a rival development and planning firm, are also proposing a development for the area, which Pipe said is much more suitable for the area.

“They [Gensler] feel a scheme can be built out there that would be perfectly profitable and no building would be higher than the Tea Building, which is seven storeys high,” he said.

Members of the public also questioned the panel and whether or not the towers needed to be built to meet London’s housing demand. Director Nicholas Boy Smith of Create Streets Nicholas Boy Smith, a non-partisan social enterprise that work to preserve and develop areas dependent on the needs of the community, said: “the answer is indefatigably and absolutely certainly, no we do not”.

“The nature of towers and their running costs is specifically well targeted on luxury housing and specifically badly targeted on normal and social housing,” said Boys Smith.

The development team from Hammerson and Ballymore were invited to join the debate, but declined, citing media coverage that described it as an ‘anti Goodsyard rally’ as their reason.

The final decision to move forward with the development will be made in a public hearing between Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the Greater London Assembly and the Hackney and Tower Hamlets planning committees. The date has yet to be confirmed.



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