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Saturday19 August 2017

Norton Folgate scheme dodges public inquiry

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Communities minister Greg Clark decides not to call in AHMM’s Spitalfields scheme

The government has decided not to call in AHMM’s Blossom Street scheme in east London for a public inquiry.

The 32,000sq m scheme - which is threatened by a separate judicial review bid by local campaigners - was approved by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson last November after he snatched the decision away from local authority Tower Hamlets.

Communities minister Greg Clark has decided not to call in the decision. In a letter to City Hall today, the government said Clark was “content that it should be determined by the local planning authority”.

Developer British Land welcomed the decision: “We are pleased that the Secretary of State has decided that the case for a public inquiry is without merit.

“We now look forward to commencing work on the rejuvenation of the Blossom Street site at the earliest possible opportunity, creating much-needed new office space for London’s tech communities.”

Heritage campaigners the Spitalfields Trust said the decision would have “no bearing at all” on its judicial review challenge to the scheme. A legal hearing into whether Boris Johnson acted lawfully by calling in the scheme will be held in the next few months.

Johnson granted approval for the redevelopment siding with developer British Land and masterplanner AHMM to clear the way for seven buildings, comprising mainly office space along with 13 retail units and 40 apartments. Other architects working on the scheme include DSDHA, Duggan Morris, Stanton Williams and East who are all working on individual buildings.

Campaigners against the plans had pinned their hopes on an eleventh hour intervention by Troels Holch Povlsen, a Danish retail billionaire, who the Spitalfields Trust, which is leading the campaign, told the hearing has offered to buy the site – also known as Norton Folgate – from British Land.

But giving his decision to approve, Johnson said: “I have to say I see no sign of the mysterious Danish philanthropist. He has not made a serious offer.”

 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • The Secretary of State's dept. has sent out what appears to be a pro forma letter saying he does not want to intervene since `planning decisions should be made at the local level'. But it is precisely because a planning decision, made by the local borough (Tower Hamlets) and backed up by much well-informed local support, has been arbitrarily overturned by one person, ie. the Mayor London, that the decision needs investigation.

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  • Munter Roe

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  • I completely concur with Gillian. However, it would appear that the Communities Minister Greg Clark is far from impartial. (Not that we would expect it from this government of millionaires!)
    Everybody join the Kill the Housing & Planning Bill march on Sunday 13th - the bill seeks carte blanche in these matters; putting planning decisions WHOLLY in the hands of developers!!

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    @Z Sullivan yes - I have been out on the streets campaigning against the Housing Bill, will be out again tomorrow (Sat) and at the demo on Sunday. Meanwhile the Lords are very cleverly delaying its passage. Hopefully it will be held up until the local/mayoral elections on 05 May, thus making it the major election issue.

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