Tuesday22 August 2017

Rival Blossom Street architect hits back at British Land

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Burrell Foley Fischer says it is ‘not correct’ alternative plans were nothing more than ‘watercolour sketches’

The architect behind alternative plans for the Blossom Street redevelopment that was approved last week by Boris Johnson has hit back after they were dismissed by the developer as a series of “watercolour sketches”.

British Land’s head of development Nigel Webb told the mayor that the scheme put forward by Spitalfields Trust, drawn up by Burrell Foley Fischer (BFF), lacked detail. “The proposals are nothing more than watercolour sketches. I don’t know if they’re viable.”

But BFF practice principal John Burrell told BD: “This is not correct. Information prepared by our team included input from BFF’s in-house RIBA specialist conservation architect and followed consultation and a briefing with conservation and planning specialist Alec Forshaw.

“The dossier sets out both new-build and refurbished floor areas at all levels with designated new uses for every site together with a narrative giving construction dates, a description of the structure and its condition, and the nature and scope of the proposed works to each building.”

He said the plans had been drawn up so comparisons between what BFF was suggesting could be made with the British Land proposals. He added the trust’s plans included 57 affordable housing units out of 125 homes.

And he said BFF’s alternative proposals had been sent to local planning authority Tower Hamlets as well as Johnson and the GLA. “The GLA and Tower Hamlets confirmed receipt of the documents in writing,” he said.

Tim Whittaker, administrator at the Spitalfields Trust, confirmed the documents had been sent in and acknowledged by the council but added they had not been put in as a pre-planning application as this would have cost the trust a four figure sum.

Johnson approved the scheme, masterplanned by AHMM, last week after calling it in last September following a decision by Tower Hamlets to refuse it planning.

At the meeting, he said he was generally “reluctant” to get involved in planning decisions and added: “When I do, it’s because it’s in the strategic interests of the city.”

British Land said it wanted to begin work on the scheme straight away. Other architects involved 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.” The hearing was told Povlsen had not submitted alternative plans to Tower Hamlets.



Readers' comments (1)

  • If there is a billionaire backer why couldn't they stump up the 'four figure sum'?!

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