Hackney mayor launches bid against Shoreditch tower development
The mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, today launched a petition urging Boris Johnson to withdraw his support for luxury skyscrapers to be built in the middle of Tech City.
The high-rise Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme was proposed by property developers Hammerson and Ballymore last July, and is still under review by the London Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
“With one fell swoop this development could tear the heart out of the community and destroy the burgeoning creative and digital business cluster known as ‘Tech City’,” Pipe said in the petition, which not only strikes a dark tone but also proposes an alternative scheme that “would be more in keeping with the area and provide much needed employment space”.
Under the current £800 million plans, the 10-acre site would be converted to accommodate almost 1,500 homes in seven towers of up to 46 storeys – almost as high as One Canada Square in Canary Wharf, as critics are quick to point out.
“That might be OK for the City, but it is completely out of scale for Shoreditch,” Pipe said in a press release. “These luxury flats, which are well beyond the reach of ordinary Londoners, will cast a shadow over the whole of Tech City, and threaten to damage the local, creative economy.
“Luxury accommodation does nothing to help London’s housing crisis and brings no value to Tech City, and we fear that such a major development will strip the area of its character, potentially leading to the dissipation of this growing cluster.”
Boris Johnson expressed support for the original scheme back in December, but also called for more affordable housing and a reduction in the scale of two of the seven planned towers.
The alternative scheme was drawn up with a range of consultants including design practice Gensler. According to an interview in Property Week, the proposal would be more employment-led and be used “to boost Shoreditch’s thriving TMT sector”.
The current plans comprise more than 1,450 new homes, 600,000 sq ft of office space, 215,000 sq ft of retail space and 5½ acres of new public realm, including a raised park to be constructed on top of the Grade-II listed Braithwaite Viaduct. The developers also say it will create around 5,000 jobs.
The site around Shoreditch High Street station is one of the largest derelict sites remaining in central London and has lain dormant since 1964, when a major fire destroyed the Bishopsgate railway station there.