Boris knocks down bid to save East London gem

British Land scheme for Norton Folgate 2015-16
Spitalfields Trust scheme for Norton Folgate 2015-16
Competing visions: above, the Spitalfields Trust scheme for Norton Folgate and, top, British Land’s

* Update January 2016: The Spitalfields Trust says it will seek a judicial review, in other (non-legal) words, the trust will ask the High Court to see whether the Mayor’s decision was reached correctly

THE CAMPAIGN to save the East London gem that is the old Norton Folgate district of houses and shops near Spitalfields yesterday 180114 suffered a potentially lethal blow.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson overruled Tower Hamlets council’s decision to throw out an application by British Land to redevelop the quarter.

The Spitalfields Trust wanted to buy the houses and shops, which are  in a conservation area, and had found a wealthy London-based Dane willing and apparently able to fund its human-scale scheme.

Oliver Leigh-Wood, a trust founder: “The area is vibrant, important and part of our history.

nortonhouse © DA
This cottage in Norton Folgate looks Georgian but is part of a sympathetic Victorian development (see plaque, below)

“To erase that with one big property development is very sad.”

Norton Folgate was one of the few conservation areas in London, he told the BBC. The trust had a fully funded alternative plan but the Mayor had given in to the developer.”

Now British Land can start demolition of the handsome Georgian and Victorian buildings.

British Land said it was “acutely aware” of the historical significance of the 0.8-acre site, which happens to be owned by the City of London Corporation. The new scheme would provide offices for up to 2,400 people to work in small and medium businesses. 

The Mayor said: “I have been acutely aware of the strength of feeling about the heritage of the site and I am pleased we were able to negotiate the retention of two historic buildings… 

“Our city is a major draw for businesses and that’s why it is of critical importance we get on with building the office space needed for the 860,000 new jobs that will be created in the next 20 years.” 

The trust said: “The fight goes on.”

David Altheer 100116

* Backstory: Secret hotel in Spitalfields

Plaque on the 1860s respectfully rebuilt worker’ cottage in Norton Folgate, above

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