Spitalfields Trust and Danish billionaire offer to buy historic Norton Folgate site

The Norton Folgate site buildings at risk. Photo: Spitalfields Trust

A conservation charity hopes to outbid rivals and rescue the historic Norton Folgate site in Shoreditch from development that might endanger its unique character.

The Spitalfields Trust has found an investor who will buy the site from the City of London Corporation at a higher return than has been agreed with developers British Land.

Money will be provided by Troels Holch Povlsen, a Danish billionaire financier and conservationist, who founded the Bestseller fashion chain and is a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog, (Order of Denmark).

The Trust’s bid, put together with Burrell, Foley, Fisher Architects, would provide affordable office space and housing and protect the historic grain of the site.

Oliver Leigh-Wood, chair of The Spitalfields Trust, said in a letter to councillors that the scheme “would provide an opportunity for the Corporation to respect the decision of the local council, and build sensitively upon the history and character of the conservation area”.

He said: “It would repair and develop the existing buildings on the site, an approach long and successfully practiced by the Trust, and familiar to its architects.

“The scheme would offer locally focused employment and an adequate mix of private and affordable housing.”

“It would revitalize the area in a sympathetic and sustainable manner, and at a fraction of the currently proposed development costs,” he added.

The land in question covers Elder Street, Folgate Street, Blossom Street, Norton Folgate, Shoreditch High Street and a Commercial Street, as part of a conservation area that once housed Spitalfields Fruit and Wool exchange and the residence of playwright Christopher Marlowe.

In July last year the Spitalfields Trust organised a 300-strong human chain led by historian Dan Cruickshank around the buildings ahead of a planning meeting.


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