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Student digs in Shoreditch given green light despite controversy over heritage building

12:22 20 March 2012

The earmarked site for a student digs development in Corsham Street - there was contention over whether the building was a heritage site.

The earmarked site for a student digs development in Corsham Street - there was contention over whether the building was a heritage site.

Archant

Plans to build a tower up to 11 storeys high, housing more than 500 students in the heart of Shoreditch, have been passed by Hackney Council despite controversy over the heritage value of a 19th century warehouse which will be destroyed in its wake.

Members of the planning committee deferred a decision on the student digs in Corsham Street last month after conservation society English Heritage deemed the 19th century industrial building a “heritage asset”.

A report recommending refusal of the scheme was compiled by a council conservation officer, Valerie Scott, who said not only would the demolition of the building be a loss but the development would have a detrimental impact on historic buildings in the surrounding area.

However, council planners ignored her recommendations and instead endorsed a report by Shoreditch warehouse expert Ray Rogers, commissioned by the developers SCAPE/INTO University Partnerships.

Ms Scott no longer works for the council.

“What we are being told is that there’s been a statement of significance by a firm appointed by the applicants,” said committee member Cllr Barry Buitekant at the planning committee meeting at the Town Hall last Wednesday.

“Quite frankly I don’t think that’s sufficient.”

“This is actually one of the most highly successful economic areas in Hackney and it seems careless to squander our assets that have made it so successful,” added local resident and project opponent, Noemi Fabry.

“Very successful companies have decided to settle here because the old buildings enhance their image, such as Jamie Oliver’s 15 or Last FM. It seems reckless to waste this potential.

“Corsham Street has exactly the commercial buildings with mixed commercial and residential use that are so suited to the hi-tech start- up companies that are transforming this area.”

Nearby residents are concerned there will be a “sudden concentration” of students who could place a drain on local resources, with what will be some of the highest density of student housing in London.

“Another student building in East Road with 700 rooms has not even opened yet, so we have no idea what the impact will be,” added Ms Fabry.

A spokesman for the developer said the warehouse expert, Mr Rogers, believed the building now due for destruction had been altered substantially and was not an impressive example of a Shoreditch warehouse.

Council officers added that members of its Design Review Panel had been “in agreement with the new build proposal” and that Ms Scott’s colleagues had not shared her views.

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