A charity fund set up by developers of the seven-tower multimillion pound Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme has been slammed by protesters as “shameful” and “kick in the teeth” for residents.
Hammerson and Ballymore, the joint developers of the £800m scheme, launched their ‘community regeneration fund’ on 3 February with an initial sum of £25,000.
The fund is managed by the East End Community Fund and awards grants to groups in Hackney and Tower Hamlets tackling unemployment and the lack of sport provision. “Special consideration” will be given to to projects based near the Shoreditch High Street site.
But campaigners who oppose the development, which would throw up seven towers of luxury flats of up to 46 storeys, have shot down the gesture.
“This looks like a patent bribe,” said David Donoghue of the More Light More Power campaign group. “It is a desperate and cynical attempt to get some local support in their push to get Boris to give approval.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson last year “called in” the planning application – bypassing local planning chiefs to decide himself on whether to give the divisive plans the go ahead. A public hearing for the 10-acre brownfield site is scheduled for 11 March.
Campaigners are urging Mr Johnson to reject the scheme, on the grounds the towering blocks will overshadow neighbouring homes, and that only 10 per cent of the total 1,356 homes will be affordable.
“£25,000 is a kick in the teeth for the thousands of people who will be forever cast into the shade by these monstrous tower blocks,” said Donoghue.
Hammerson and Ballymore reject accusations that they are trying to buy local goodwill. A spokesperson said: “Our involvement in creating the community fund resulted from our community consultation well before the mayor called the planning application in.
“Both Hammerson and Ballymore are experienced developers, with a clear track record of working in partnership with local communities to deliver projects that provide important amenities and services.”
They added: “Establishing a community fund is a central plank of our development approach.
“In the case of the Goodsyard, the joint venture wanted to ensure a robust grant process was in place, hence the partnership with East End Community Fund has been established.”
The East End Community Fund has been approached for comment.
The current consultation is open for comments at london.gov.uk until 15 February.