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Benefit concert for Liberty of Norton Folgate tonight at Shakespeare’s Shoreditch Church

PUBLISHED: 17:50 18 April 2016 | UPDATED: 17:50 18 April 2016

Reflecting the cmapign to save Norton Folgate

Reflecting the cmapign to save Norton Folgate

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A benefit concert is being staged tonight at Shakespeare’s church when he lived in Shoreditch to support the campaign to save the historic Liberty of Norton Folgate on the fringe of the City of London from encroachment by skyscrapers.

Boris Johnson... facing High Court over Norton Folgate planning fiascoBoris Johnson... facing High Court over Norton Folgate planning fiasco

The concert at Shoreditch Church is in aid of the fighting fund challenging London Mayor Boris Johnson in the High Court on April 26, Spitalfields Life reports.

It follows 12 months of campaigning cultural events by the Spitalfields Trust, which is making the legal challenge.

These included lectures on Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe, with a reading of his Edward II, as well as an exhibition of the history of Norton Folgate at Dennis Severs’ restored Georgian house in Folgate Street and the big demo last summer when 500 people joined hands around Norton Folgate orchestrated by TV historian Dan Cruickshank.

Encroaching development that could be dumped on Norton Folgate [image: Spitalfields Life]Encroaching development that could be dumped on Norton Folgate [image: Spitalfields Life]

Hundreds of letters of objection to the development were written before Tower Hamlets Council unanimously rejected British Land’s plan to throw up office tower blocks along Norton Folgate, encroaching on the historic Georgian conservation area behind.

But Boris Johnson overturned the council’s ruling decision and gave developers the green light.

Now he faces a Judicial Review over his handing of the planning application when it’s claimed he failed to give the statutory time to study a council documents showing legitimate reasons for stopping the scheme and for dismissing out of hand an alternative proposed by Spitalfields Trust.

Alternative scheme by Spitalfields Trust that would preserve Norton Folgate's Georgian character [image: Spitalfields Life]Alternative scheme by Spitalfields Trust that would preserve Norton Folgate's Georgian character [image: Spitalfields Life]

It is the first time in Boris’s eight years as mayor that he has been called to the High Court over a strategic planning issue, having pushed through 14 controversial and unpopular schemes since 2008. It could mean his executive endorsement for the developers in the face of local authority and public objection being overturned by judges.

Tonight’s concert at 7.30pm at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch high Street, compered by Griff Rhys Jones, includes performances by Tom Carradine, Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Rhodes, Stick In The Wheel, Suggs McPherson and Drew Wortley.

It is accompanied with passages from John Betjeman read by Stephen Fewell, Charles Dickens read by Debbie Chazen, Christopher Marlowe read by Nick Malinowski and William Shakespeare read by Sean McCann.

Joining hands... protesters surround Norton Folgate, July 2015Joining hands... protesters surround Norton Folgate, July 2015

The Liberty of Norton Folgate is an historic neighbourhood that has evolved into a complex web of streets, alleyways, courtyards and warehouses which tell the story of London down the centuries.

Conservationists say the scheme by British Land, backed by the City Corporation, would destroy Norton Folgate with wholesale demolition and towering office blocks up to 14 stories within the designated Conservation Area.

The fight to prevent destruction of Spitalfields and Norton Folgate began in 1977 when the Spitalfields Trust set up by Dan Cruickshank took on British Land and the City of London the first time round, to stop wholesale redevelopment and won a reprieve to repair and restore the Georgian architecture.

Norton Folgate... from the brushwork of Lucy RogersNorton Folgate... from the brushwork of Lucy Rogers

Taking on “the big boys with bottomless pockets” has cost the preservation charity hard. It needs to raise £30,000 to pursue the fight through the courts.

Otherwise, it maintains, “a terrible precedent is set for the future protection of all conservation areas” throughout Britain.


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