London Mayor Boris Johnson delays making Bishopsgate Goodsyard decision

‘Monstrous’: campaigners warn tower blocks will overshadow neighbouring estate. Image: Hammerson and Ballymore
The proposed scheme. Image: Hammerson and Ballymore

London Mayor Boris Johnson has delayed a ruling he was due to make on the controversial Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme, making it more likely that his successor will have the final say on the development.

Mayor Johnson was due to make the ruling on Monday, but was urged last week to reject the scheme – which includes skyscrapers of 38 and 46 storeys tall – by his own planning officers.

Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils had already rejected the scheme, which straddles the two boroughs.

David Donoghue of the More Light More Power protest group said the announcement was a “vindication” of campaigning by residents, local businesses and Hackney and Tower Hamlets Councils.

“They have all been saying for months that the scheme is fundamentally flawed,” he said. “It is damaging to residents, businesses, the environment and London as a whole. It lacks style, imagination and innovation – it provides no benefits.”

A report published last Friday by the Greater London Authority (GLA) criticised the £800m high-rise project, saying the “harm to heritage assets, the unacceptable daylight-sunlight impact, density, height, massing and layout of the scheme are considered to significantly outweigh the potential public benefits”.

Mr Donoghue added: “We await with interest to see what radical solutions the developers suddenly produce out of their hat as Boris prepares to exit on 5 May.”

News to defer the decision was welcomed by joint developers Hammerson and Ballymore, who said parts of the scheme could now be redesigned.

“We welcome the mayor’s decision to defer the public hearing, allowing us to continue to work with the GLA, the local community and the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, to bring forward amended proposals to address the issues raised in the report and ensure the Goodsyard and its benefits help fulfil the capital’s ambitions for long term growth,” a spokesperson said.

The delay has prompted Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs to call for future applications to be agreed in line with the council’s planning process.

“All future applications for the site should be agreed within the council’s transparent and democratic planning processes, which are designed to allow reasonable development and meet local needs in consultation with local people,” said Mayor Biggs.

He said the Goodsyard site “deserves” the right level of affordable housing and community benefits, and a development “in proportion to its surroundings”.

“Thousands of local residents, community groups, local businesses and elected members objected to the developer’s plans for the site because it didn’t adequately meet local needs, and because its sheer size would cast a massive shadow over the residential areas to the North,” said Mayor Biggs.

“Expert planners from both councils and now even the Greater London Authority (GLA) have agreed.”

This article was amended at 6:48pm on Friday 15 April. It had stated the developers were paying nothing for the land. In fact in 2002 Hammerson & Ballymore entered into a binding agreement to buy the site, after Railtrack had put it up for sale in 2001.

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