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Boris takes on Bishopsgate goodsyard plan in battle for ‘heart of east London’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 September 2015 | UPDATED: 08:12 28 September 2015

View from Commercial Street of how Bishopsgate goodsyard development will look

View from Commercial Street of how Bishopsgate goodsyard development will look

Spitalfields Trust

A battle for the heart of east London has now switched to City Hall in a manoeuvre to get Boris Johnson to push through the controversial Bishopsgate goodsyard development before he steps down as Mayor of London next May.

How Bishopsgate goodsyard site will look with new tower blocksHow Bishopsgate goodsyard site will look with new tower blocks

Boris has taken the planning decision out of the hands of both Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils.

He has ‘called in’ both the Bishopsgate and neighbouring Norton Folgate schemes which protesters fear means he will give developers the green light.

Consent has been given to all but one of the 17 controversial London schemes since he became mayor in 2008, including the London Fruit & Wool Exchange in Spitalfields in 2013.

Campaigners this week accused developers of making the Bishopsgate application “so complicated” that it would take too long to plough through before the legal deadline.

Area of Norton Folgate facing demolitionArea of Norton Folgate facing demolition

“It’s a massive application, bigger than all the works of Shakespeare and both Old and New Testiments of the Bible,” Spitalfields Society’s David Donoghue claimed.

“It is appallingly written and too complex for local authorities to deal with in time — so they got Boris to intervene because there was technically no ‘determination’.

“They want to get Boris to pass it before he goes, because the main candidates for Mayor of London next May are against it.”

Protesters fighting the proposals for the towers — reaching up to 48 storeys they say will “overshadow” whole swathes of Spitalfields, Bethnal Green and Shoreditch — have 10,000 signatures so far to their online More Light More Power campaign.

'Human chain' protest in June at Norton Folgate'Human chain' protest in June at Norton Folgate

The proposal for the neighbouring Norton Folgate, which conservationists led by TV historian Dan Cruickshank fear would devastate this historic neighbourhood, has actually been rejected by Tower Hamlets council.

But even this has been ‘called in’ by Boris to make his executive decision — despite hundreds of protesters staging a ‘human chain’ demonstration in June.

The Bishopsgate goodsyard and sidings stretching six acres has been derelict since being destroyed in a massive blaze in 1964.

Planning consent for its long-awaited redevelopment involves both Tower Hamlets and Hackney as the borough boundary runs through its heart.

The campaigners have pledged to continue their More Light More Power battle for the heart of east London.

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