Property developers Hammerson and Ballymore have submitted plans for a series of high-rise towers on the Bishopsgate Goods Yard site in the heart of Shoreditch.
The tallest is 47 storeys/178m high - more than five times the height of the TEA building opposite and equivalent to the Gherkin. The other 11 buildings range from 39 storeys/152m to 7 storeys/24m. Most of the site is earmarked for apartments, only 10% of which are proposed as ‘affordable’. Based on nearby developments, it’s estimated the others would start at about £700,000 for a studio flat, with one-beds going for over £1 million.
These proposals, based primarily on cashing in on luxury flats way beyond the means of most Hackney or Tower Hamlets residents, are wholly inappropriate for this part of Shoreditch and do nothing to address London’s housing crisis.
Such enormous towers would destroy the heart of this vibrant neighbourhood, its character and heritage, and cast a shadow over hundreds of nearby homes and businesses.
The amount and type of proposed commercial space also brings no value to Tech City and could actually lead to the dissipation of this growing and increasingly renowned cluster of creative design and tech companies. The Goods Yard site is supposed to be earmarked for a commercially-driven development, something which the current application is certainly not.
In December, Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils’ planning committees rejected the application, which spans both boroughs. The many grounds for refusal included the severe impact on the area’s character and heritage, loss of light to nearby homes and businesses, lack of affordable homes and business space, and build quality.
However, at the request of the developers, London Mayor Boris Johnson ‘called in’ the application, meaning he alone will decide whether to approve it at a public hearing expected to take place in April.
There is so much potential for Bishopsgate Goods Yard to be developed in a collaborative, creative way which works for the benefit of everyone, and provides commercial space which allows the area’s thriving tech and creative sector to continue to grow. The Council worked with a Shoreditch-based firm of architects to draw up an alternative scheme to illustrate the type of approach which would be far more suitable for Shoreditch. Unfortunately, the developers had no interest in such a discussion.
As it stands, this scheme will serve primarily to line the pockets of developers and property investors and is an example of everything that is wrong with the capital's property and development market.
Shoreditch deserves better.