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Public meeting tonight in light of shadow of Bishopsgate scheme cast over Shoreditch

PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 November 2015 | UPDATED: 13:21 16 November 2015

Shadow of 'Berlin Wall of skyscrapers' at Bishopsgate would be cast across Shoreditch, claim

Shadow of 'Berlin Wall of skyscrapers' at Bishopsgate would be cast across Shoreditch, claim

More Light, More Power

This is the shadow campaigners say will be cast across Shoreditch if the “forest of skyscrapers” goes ahead at the controversial 11-acre Bishopsgate former rail goods terminal as the sun streams across the sky to the south.

A wave of protest building up for two years in east London has led to a people’s conference tonight to urge London Mayor Boris Johnson not to override both Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney councils which object to the massive City Fringe scheme.

Sea of  black umbrellas...  protest at Bishopsgate 'Forest of skyscrapers' [photo: Jeremy Freedman]Sea of black umbrellas... protest at Bishopsgate 'Forest of skyscrapers' [photo: Jeremy Freedman]

The open conference at nearby Shoreditch Church follows yesterday’s Shadow protest march around the site next to Brick Lane’s Sunday market.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs and Hackney’s Jules Pipe are voicing strong opposition at the conference against the massive Hammerson-Ballymore venture, in the face of Boris Johnson taking the planning decision away from the local authorities to push the scheme through before he leaves office in May.

They are joined on the panel by Nicholas Boys Smith from ‘Create Streets’ research organisation, which encourages low-rise and ‘streetscape’ developments in place of high-rise towers. The panel is chaired by journalist Kirsty Styles.

It isn't raining... black umbrellas symbolise shadow cast over Shoreditch and Spitalfields by proposed Bisgopsgate development [photo: Jeremy Freedman]It isn't raining... black umbrellas symbolise shadow cast over Shoreditch and Spitalfields by proposed Bisgopsgate development [photo: Jeremy Freedman]

Hackney Society’s Nick Perry said: “Boris Johnson doesn’t seem to listen to the people, so it’s fantastic that the two local mayors are standing up and taking on board the communities’ views instead.

“We hope the debate will help Boris ‘see the light’ and understand how important local decision-making is.”

But Boris’s recent track record may prove a stumbling block, after previously overruling local authorities and public opinion with other City Fringe projects, including the nearby Norton Folgate scheme and the historic London Wool Exchange in Spitalfields now being pulled down.

Even policemen are in black, campaigners amusingly point out, as the Shadow March makes way through Brick Lane [photo: Mike Brooke]Even policemen are in black, campaigners amusingly point out, as the Shadow March makes way through Brick Lane [photo: Mike Brooke]

The developers were invited to tonight’s meeting at Shoreditch Church.

“But they’re not unwilling to take part,” Nick Perry added.

“It will be a sad day for devolution of local decisions to local people if Boris allows this epic development as his swansong before he leaves office.”

Shadow of Bishopshgate scheme hangs over Shoreditch and Spitalfields  [photo: Mike Brooke]Shadow of Bishopshgate scheme hangs over Shoreditch and Spitalfields [photo: Mike Brooke]

The ‘More Light, More Power’ umbrella group is staging tonight’s public meeting at 7pm and is running a letter-writing campaign urging the London Mayor to “reject the Bishopsgate scheme outright”.

Its co-ordinator David Donoghue said: “This scheme on publicly-owned land will plunge Shoreditch into shadow. Massive tower blocks almost as high as Canary Wharf will deprive people of light every day of the year.

“It will do nothing economically for east London’s thriving business hub, nor provide housing that Londoners can afford.”

The shadow, campaigners point out, would be cast much of the day across the ‘birthplace of social housing’—the unique Boundary Estate at Arnold Circus which was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1900.

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