Battle lost for Norton Folgate as Mayor Boris Johnson waves through redevelopment

Area of Norton Folgate British Land wants to bulldoze

Area of Norton Folgate British Land wants to bulldoze - Credit: Spitz Trust

Conservationists have lost the fight to save a Georgian quarter of London from encroachment by new office towers after London Mayor Boris Johnson gave the green light to developers. The Mayor used his executive powers yesterday push through plans by British Land in partnership with the City of London Corporation to redevelop parts of the ancient Liberty of Norton Folgate.

Where high-rise office blocks are planned at Norton Folgate

Where high-rise office blocks are planned at Norton Folgate - Credit: Spitz Trust

The development, already rejected twice by Tower Hamlets Council, comes after a summer of public campaigns by the Spitalfields Trust, led by TV historian Dan Cruickshank, to preserve the character of the neighbourhood around Folgate Street and Blossom Street, outside the City Corporation boundary.

Boris rejected evidence by the Spitalfields Trust presented to the City Hall public hearing.

The trust even made an offer to buy the properties that the City Corporation has been snapping up over the past two years with the backing of a wealthy Danish tycoon.

Boris Johnson... executive mayor decision

Boris Johnson... executive mayor decision - Credit: Archant

But it all came to nothing with a wave of Boris’s executive hand.


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Now the ‘More Light, More Power’ campaign fighting a similar battle close by to stop a “Berlin Wall of skyscrapers” being built at the former Bishopsgate goods yard site fear a similar fate, when Boris decides in March.

“Of the 14 planning applications Boris Johnson has called in so far, all 100 per cent have been decided in favour of the developers,” campaign founder David Donoghue said.

David Donoghue at a 'More Light, More Power' protest to stop Bishopsgate skyscrapers

David Donoghue at a 'More Light, More Power' protest to stop Bishopsgate skyscrapers - Credit: Archant

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“Both Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils have voted against the Bishopsgate development with its ‘Berlin Wall’ of skyscrapers throwing shadow over a vast area of Shoreditch, while 6,500 members of the public signed our petition against it.

“But it’s hard to believe the Bishopsgate scheme will be a fair hearing. Shoreditch deserves a better use of what is public land.”

The campaigners are calling for an alternative development of mid-rise high density with genuine local jobs and affordable housing to “improve the area, not cast it into darkness and undermining the environment of surrounding neighbourhoods”.

Campaigners figiting Bishopsgate development at Shoreditch

Campaigners figiting Bishopsgate development at Shoreditch - Credit: Archant

It is similar to the alternative proposals put forward yesterday by the Spitalfields Trust for Norton Folgate, even offering to buy the properties already snapped up by the City Corporation.

But this was thrown out yesterday by Mayor Johnson after being approached by British Land.

Meanwhile, hustings are being held on Thursday evening for candidates from all political parties for the London Mayor elections in May on where they stand on the Bishopsgate issue. It takes place at 7pm at Shoreditch Church.

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