The Bishops Place tombstone development designed by Foster and Partners. The City of London Corporation, which has several joint venture agreements with Hammerson on sites in Shoreditch, welcomed the scheme
In the face of community opposition Hackney had deferred the planning application in July 2008 and asked Hammerson to spare The Light at 233 Shoreditch High Street which was to be demolished. At that time Hammerson said there was room for only 50 affordable flats in its £400 million, 1.5 million sq ft., scheme. It offered to contribute £14 million to "off-site" affordable housing. The contribution was intended for TfL's Dalston Junction development, which has already received massive public subsidy, but where there is presently no affordable housing planned at all.
Hackney's, and the Mayor of London's, policy is that in larger schemes developers should seek to provide 50% affordable housing of which 70% should be for social rental and 30% for shared-ownership. Hammerson's mixed-use scheme includes 290 flats and serviced hotel apartments but there are to be only 11 flats (4%) for social rental.
Hackney accepted that the international property developer, Hammerson, had been hit by the credit feeze , which meant that it could now only afford a £3million, and not a £14million, contribution to off-site affordable housing. But Hackney also extended the time to start the development to 5 years when it hopes that market conditions will have improved.
The Bishops Place scheme, which still involves partial demolition of The Light, has been condemned by the Government's advisory commission, CABE, which objected to the "fundamentally flawed" design and the "canyon effect" of the blocks. But the rushed consultation process meant that CABE's objections were not made available for Planning Committee members to read.
English Heritage advised that the "overbearing" development would have "a harmful impact on surrounding conservation areas and listed buildings". But English Heritage's letter was not on the planning file either.
The Council did not even consult it's own Design Review Panel which has objected strongly to the previous designs.
Hackney Council owns most of the Bishops Place site and will make £millions, under an option deal with the developer Hammerson, now the scheme has been granted planning permission. But the sale proceeds wont be spent on affordable housing or other community benefits in either Shoreditch or Dalston because they are earmarked to pay for Hackney's new annex to its Town Hall which, its Mayor hopes, will give Hackney citizens "a sense of civic pride".
The Bishops Place scheme will now be reviewed by the Mayor of London's office. Hammerson has promised Mayor Boris £3.1 million to help pay for Crossrail and Hackney report that his office has already approved the affordable housing arrangements.