Norton Folgate scheme to go ahead following High Court battle

The Norton Folgate site buildings at risk. Photo: Spitalfields Trust
At risk: the Norton Folgate site buildings endangered by the British Land scheme. Photo: Spitalfields Trust

Boris Johnson’s decision to bypass the council and give the green light to a contentious Spitalfields development has been upheld by the High Court.

The ruling is a final blow for heritage campaigners who have fought hard to save the historic buildings around Blossom Street.

A planning judge yesterday (10 May) upheld former London mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to ‘call in’ the planning application, which had been thrown out by Tower Hamlets Council.

Developer British Land now has permission to knock down the buildings, located in the Spitalfields Conservation Area, to create work space and 45 homes.

Ongoing saga

Tower Hamlets Council refused to give British Land planning permission for the project last July, after receiving 550 objections. But former Mayor Boris Johnson then ‘called in’ the decision and gave the developers the green light in January this year.

In a twist to the saga, conservation charity the Spitalfields Trust was then granted a judicial review of Boris Johnson’s “autocratic” decision to override Tower Hamlets’ planning authority.

The charity claimed it had evidence, released through the Freedom of Information Act, of “procedural irregularities in the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) handling of the case”.

But the conservation campaigners were yesterday defeated in the High Court, as the judge ruled that Mr Johnson’s ‘calling in’ of the application was lawful.

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

The Spitalfields Trust was approached for comment and had not responded at time of publication.

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