London Mayor Boris Johnson has intervened in Tower Hamlets politics to green-light controversial development of the historic Norton Folgate site in Spitalfields.
Company British Land now has permission to demolish buildings to create housing and office space, in plans campaigners warn could damage the site’s “unique character”.
The move scuppers a bid by Danish billionaire Troels Holch Povlsen and conservation charity The Spitalfields Trust to buy the buildings and protect them from harmful development.
City Hall said the new development would have space for 2,400 workers.
Oliver Leigh-Wood of The Spitalfields Trust, speaking before the decision yesterday, said: “If this is allowed, then every conservation area is at risk.
“The City corporation should be examining their soul.
“The British Land proposal, with full knowledge of the City corporation, is to erase history.”
The site covers Elder Street, Folgate Street, Blossom Street, Norton Folgate, Shoreditch High Street and a Commercial Street.
It forms part of a conservation area that once housed Spitalfields Fruit and Wool exchange and the residence of playwright Christopher Marlowe.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs, said: “There are a number of positive aspects of this permission, for example in supporting SMEs which will help the local economy, particularly its Tech sector, but many local residents are unhappy with the intensity of development and its impact on the historic area.
“This is however a ‘warm up’ compared to the consideration of the massive Bishopsgate Goods Yard application, which has also been called in by Boris Johnson.”