The decision on a towering high-rise development that would “irreversibly damage” Shoreditch has been delayed, fuelling speculation that planning officers cannot agree on how much sunlight it would block from the surrounding area.
A public hearing, during which London Mayor Boris Johnson will decide whether to give the £800m Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme the go-ahead, was scheduled for 11 March but has been pushed back by the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Developers Hammerson and Ballymore are proposing to throw up seven towers up to 38 and 46 storeys high on the disused Shoreditch High Street site.
But campaigners are urging Mr Johnson to reject the scheme, on the grounds that the towering blocks will overshadow neighbouring buildings, and that only 10 per cent of the 1,356 homes will be affordable.
They commissioned a daylight assessment by Dr Paul Littlefair, an independent expert on right to light, an easement in English law that gives a long-standing owner of a building with windows a right to maintain the level of illumination.
Dr Littlefair found the report by Gordon Ingram Associates (GIA), conducted on behalf of the developers, was “less rigorous in [its] interpretation of impact,” “misleading” and could be an “underestimate”.
David Donoghue of the More Light More Power campaign group said: “What we’re hearing is the GLA planning officers drew different conclusions in their report on the daylight assessment to those drawn by the developers.”
The GLA has refused to confirm whether this is the case, but a spokesperson said: “The mayor and his planning team continue to carry out a detailed assessment of the application and a decision will be made at a public hearing in due course.”
The news of the delay to the hearing comes as local opposition reached new heights. On 24 February 140 independent local businesses signed a letter to the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, asking him to refuse the current proposals, which would cause “irreversible damage to one of London’s most distinctive neighbourhoods”.
Hammerson and Ballymore declined to comment on discrepancies between the lighting studies. But they said: “We intend to create a vibrant mix of small, independent and established brands.
“We are already working closely with local retailers and expect this dialogue to continue as we begin leasing units.
“The Goodsyard is also working with specialist retail agents Shackleton to ensure a healthy mix of retailers on the site.”
A new date for the hearing has not been set but will be published two weeks in advance.