‘People’ protests planned at two town halls against Bishopsgate goods yard scheme
PUBLISHED: 12:38 10 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:38 10 December 2015
The rebellion across east London against the controversial Bishopsgate goods yard development comes to a head tonight with both Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney councils set to reject the £800 million scheme.
The two local authorities are going ahead with their planning committee meetings despite London mayor Boris Johnson ‘calling in’ the planning application by Hammerson’s to decide himself whether to give it the green light.
He is on a collision course with the local mayors who spoke against the proposals at a joint public meeting held at Shoreditch Church last month.
The mayors are backing a people’s ‘More Light, More Power’ campaign to stop City encroachment into the East End with luxury apartments in towers 47 storeys high which they argue ordinary families can’t afford.
Campaigners from Spitalfields and Shoreditch are picketing the separate planning meetings at both town halls this-evening to show solidarity against the “forest of skyscrapers” earmarked for the 11-acre goods rail terminal and sidings which they fear will cast a deep shadow across the district and split the neighbourhoods.
The site—derelict for half-a-century—is so large that it sweeps both sides of the boundary between the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney.
Both councils hint that the fight could end up in the High Court, over level of ‘affordable’ homes being offered among the luxury apartments.
“It’s important that we make a serious challenge to this,” Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said. “Boris is at risk of making a lazy decision because he’s obsessed with numbers and hasn’t thought through the implications.”
The developers have offered “up to 10 per cent” ‘affordable’ flats, well below what the local authorities say is viable.
Hackney mayor Jules Pipe said: “Our best chance (to stop the scheme) is on ‘viability’.
“The developers’ 10pc ‘goodwill’ gesture is against our own 49pc assessment—and even well below Boris’s overall London ‘affordable’ threshold at 25pc. That would be solid, factual grounds to challenge the scheme.”
The protesters, meanwhile, lobby the Hackney meeting at 6.30pm and Tower Hamlets half-an-hour later at 7pm.
Campaign coordinator David Donoghgue said: “The Bishopsgate site is public land owned by Railtrack, yet it’s mainly overseas speculators who will be able to afford to ‘buy to leave’ the luxury apartments to keep empty as an ‘investment’.”
The campaigners also plan a mass protest at noon on Sunday outside Shoreditch High Street station similar to last month’s ‘black umbrella’ march around Brick Lane to show the extent of the shadow they fear the tower blocks will throw across the district.