Now Boris Johnson’s top GLA planning advisors tell him to reject Bishopsgate skyscrapers scheme
PUBLISHED: 18:05 11 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:54 13 April 2016
The Buck stops with Boris Johnson over whether the controversial Bishopsgate goodsyard scheme for seven skyscrapers shadowing over Shoreditch and Spitalfields should go ahead—now his own planning officers want it rejected.
The London Mayor uses his executive powers at a public hearing next Monday to decided if the development on the City Fringe gets the green light.
He over-ruled its previous rejection by both Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney councils when he called in developer Hammerson’s application earlier this year.
But the GLA’s own planning officers who advise the mayor have today come out against the scheme and are recommending refusal.
They recommend: “The Mayor as local planning authority refuses planning permission and associated listed building consent.”
Campaigners led by the More Light More Power umbrella organisation which has been fighting the scheme for the 11-acre site for three years are now calling on Boris to refuse the plans outright.
The call follows the GLA report stressing that the regeneration site “would result in unacceptable and significant negative impacts” with its density, height, mass and layout which was “not appropriate” for the derelict site that stretches along the Liverpool Street main-line railway from Shoreditch High Street to Brick Lane and beyond.
The proposal would result in “significant building mass” at the western end, close to the City boundary, which City Hall planning advisors now agree would result in an impact on the daylight and sunlight of hundreds of properties nearby.
It would have harmful heritage impacts, the report said, and taken together these issues would “significantly outweigh the potential public benefits of the scheme”.
Rejection by the GLA has been welcomed today by Hackney Council, one of the two local planning authorities over-ruled by the Mayor of London.
A Town Hall spokesman said: “The officers have recognised the many problems with the application and the negative impact it would have on the character of Shoreditch and the hundreds of residents and businesses nearly.”
But Mayor Johnson has a track record of ignoring public opinion after a string of 14 controversial applications he called in over the heads of local authorities have all been given the go-ahead.
These include the London Wool Exchange in Spitalfields and the nearby Norton Folgate scheme which has since been challenged in the High Court.
The application promises 1,356 homes and 650,000sq ft of offices and other commercial uses, including 12 tall buildings, seven of which are deemed skyscrapers.
Hammerson’s said it was disappointed with the GLA recommendation to reject its Bishopsgate ambitions.
It said in a statement: “The Goodsyard is one of London’s most important strategic sites which we believe would contribute to its long-term growth and success.”
The developers had initially offered no “affordable” flats in the scheme, then under pressure offered a 10 per cent og the apartments, which has now been upped to 15pc.
But even then, campaigners point out, “affordable” means prices up to 80 per cent of the open market value—which in the Bishopsgate scheme means 80pc of the £1m price-tag the luxury apartments would fetch, so “affordable” could mean £800,000, they point out.
No ordinary folk in London can afford such prices, Hackney’s Mayor Jules Pipe has said.
The massive site has been derelict since the former Bishopsgate goods station burned down in 1964, which was built in 1861 as the original London terminal for the Eastern Counties Railway before it was extended into the City itself at Liverpool Street in the 1870s.