Boris Johnson decides today the fate of historic Liberty of Norton Folgate

Campaign to preserve Georgian character of Norton Folgate

Campaign to preserve Georgian character of Norton Folgate - Credit: Archant

London Mayor Boris Johnson is giving his executive decision this-afternoon on whether redevelopment goes ahead at the historic Liberty of Norton Folgate on the City Fringe—in the face of a public outcry to save the Georgian neighbourhood.

Alternative preservation of Norton Folgate proposed by Spitalfields Trust

Alternative preservation of Norton Folgate proposed by Spitalfields Trust - Credit: Archant

A public hearing begins at City Hall at 2pm to decide the fate of the turnings around Folgate Street and Eldon Street in Spitalfields, which conservationists say would be overshadowed by office tower blocks proposed at Norton Folgate.

Evidence is being presented by Spitalfields Trust founder Oliver Leigh-Wood in a bid to stop British Land developers getting the green light from Boris.

“It is disgraceful what developers are trying to do to this historic neighbourhood,” Leigh-Wood told the East London Advertiser today. “What’s worse is the City Corporation gradually buying up property in Spitalfields, outside its own City boundary, so that the area can be developed for profit.

“Boris Johnson will hear the evidence, go behind the screen and come out no doubt giving it the go-ahead. He has done this 13 times out of 13 for all the planning decisions he’s called in since he’s been in office.”

Boris Johnson... executive mayor decision

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

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The Norton Folgate scheme was rejected by Tower Hamlets council last summer.

But British Land went over their heads and appealed directly to the Mayor of London for an executive decision, which conservationists fear will go the same way as the historic London Fruit Exchange in Spitalfields which has now been bulldozed.

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What makes Norton Folgate different, however, is an alternative scheme that has come to light which would preserve the area and give back the City of London Corporation its full investment.

The Advertiser learned on Thursday that Danish financier and conservationist Troels Holch Povlsen had approached Spitalfields Trust and offered to buy the properties acquired by the City Corporation at a price matching any return promised by British Land.

The billionaire is said to be keen to see the trust’s alternative plan go ahead instead—low-rise buildings more in keeping with the historic nature of the area behind Bishopsgate.

This forgotten quarter of London “could then be revitalized in a sensitive manner” that would “show appropriate respect” for the nature of the Conservation Area.

But it all depends on this-afternoon’s executive decision by the Mayor of London.

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