Opinion: Why the Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme needs changing
Local businessmen, hipsters, yuppies and artists: these are the people that belong to Shoreditch. But the wild monster of capitalism raging over London’s housing market has now crept upon one of the city’s most free-thinking and creative areas as well.
Seven towers are planned to shoot up by 2020 on the site around Shoreditch High Street station, with 1,450 new homes, 600,000 sq ft of office space, 215,000 sq ft of retail space and a park. On closer inspection, this sounds like a nice addition to London’s housing market under its thriving philosophy: the richest take it all, the poorest standing small.
For, of course, these luxury skyscrapers are not being built to accommodate low-wage workers. In fact, the Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme by property developers Hammerson and Ballymore proposes that only 10% of the flats in these towers will be ‘affordable’ – and that means they’ll still be rented out at 80% of the market rate.
Thus, the Goodsyard just adds to all the other development plans that overlook the people who really need living space in inner London, such as nurses, fire fighters or teachers. More and more of them are driven out of the capital because truly affordable flats are scarce.
How long, I wonder, will the government and the Mayor of London let this housing market disaster wield on without intervention? They need to be blind and deaf if they have not heard the voices calling on them for action yet.
It is important that more locals sign the petition in the weeks to come. It’s about time that they make a stand against the plans that not only try to monetise Shoreditch’s growing popularity in favour of the rich, but also destroy the area’s unique flair by overshadowing it with sky-high buildings.
The developers argue that the scheme will create more than 5,000 jobs in the area. Still, everyone who has been to Shoreditch will find that commercial retail space doesn’t fit into its landscape of local businesses – and neither do expensive penthouse-style flats to its inhabitants.
If not for the rich investors from overseas that buy London flats because of their rising market value, Shoreditch and, to be fair, London in general, wouldn’t need more unaffordable housing or Hong Kong-style skyscrapers.
In a joint statement, Hammerson and Ballymore have announced that they will revise their plans after having been confronted with the disapproving voices of local businesses, politicians, community groups and residents. Hopefully, this time they will show more empathy for the area and its people, than for their own wallets.