A 51-storey skyscraper that was given the green light last week will “cast a shadow over Shoreditch” according to local campaigners.
Bishops Place, comprising a hotel, offices, leisure facilities and flats will be built in a Shoreditch conservation site across 4.7 hectares.
The £500 million scheme was approved by Hackney Council’s planning committee in November, despite criticism of the development by the Government’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
CABE objected to the “failure to relate to the inherent grain or character of South Shoreditch.”
“We are concerned that this part of the site will not be differentiated from the more sanitised and corporate landscape of the City and that this will inhibit a richness of character remaining there,” CABE’s report said.
English Heritage also warned that the “overbearing” development would have “a harmful impact on surrounding conservation areas and listed buildings”.
Local architect, Mark Willingale had put forward an alternative scheme on behalf of local campaigners. He has criticised the application as a compromised design that is detrimental to the local context and leaves several matters unresolved.
Campaigners are worried that Bishop’s Place may be the first of a ‘wall of towers’ extending into Shoreditch, as both Hackney Council and the GLA have said that they consider the western end of Bishopsgate Goodsyard as an appropriate location for tall buildings.
15,000 on housing waiting list
Local campaign group OPEN, (Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs), says the plans do not provide enough affordable housing.
When the scheme was proposed in 2007, developers Hammerson offered a contribution of £14m for affordable housing off site.
However, the application was deferred and Hammerson then reduced its offer for affordable housing off site to £3 million.
It reconsidered the terms in the light of the reduced number of private residential units, current market conditions and the requirement by Transport for London and the Greater London Authority for a substantial contribution towards Crossrail.
Local campaigners are also concerned that Hackney Council has accepted a level of on site affordable housing (28 per cent by habitable rooms) well below its own and the GLA’s policy targets (50 per cent).
The scheme’s revisions have reduced the number of family homes. Of the total residential provision the proportion of family sized units has been reduced from 34 per cent (100 family units) to only 14 per cent (33 family units).
There are over 15,000 people on Hackney Council’s housing waiting list.
A Hackney Council spokeswoman said, “The London Plan (which is the relevant planning policy) sets an overall target of 50 per cent affordable housing. This is not scheme specific.
“The scheme provides 28 per cent affordable housing accommodation (for rent or shared ownership) on the site. The additional £3million will enable further off site affordable housing to be provided that will in total equate to around 35 per cent.”
“The amount of affordable housing on the site is proportionally much higher than with the original scheme, whilst the lower financial contribution arises from the fact that there is less private housing in the scheme than in the original plans, market conditions being less favourable and the requirement for a significant contribution (£3.1m) to Crossrail 1, which should significantly improve transport links in Hackney,” she said.
Martin Jepson, Managing Director Hammerson London Group commented, “Bishops Place was approved by the London Borough of Hackney in November 2009.
“The planning guidance which we have been working on with the local authorities and stakeholders for Bishopsgate Goodsyard will inform the design of a scheme moving forward and the guidance recently adopted does not bear any resemblance to this concept.
“We remain committed to continuing consultation with both local and statutory stakeholders on a masterplan for the regeneration of the Bishopsgate Goodsyard site.”
Note: this story was amended on Friday 22 January./ 21 January, 2010