London Mayor Boris Johnson has delayed a ruling he was due to make on the controversial Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme, making it more likely that his successor will have the final say on the development.
Mayor Johnson was due to make the ruling on Monday, but was urged last week to reject the scheme – which includes skyscrapers of 38 and 46 storeys tall – by his own planning officers.
Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils had already rejected the scheme, which straddles the two boroughs.
The delay has prompted Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe to call for the fate of the Goodsyard to be decided in a more “open and constructive” way.
“Let’s hope the developers now take a creative, collaborative approach with Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils, local residents, businesses and community groups to build something which works for everyone,” said Mayor Pipe.
“There is so much more potential for this site than simply the developer’s ambition to cash in on luxury flats.”
A report published last Friday by the Greater London Authority (GLA) criticised the £800m high-rise project, saying the “harm to heritage assets, the unacceptable daylight-sunlight impact, density, height, massing and layout of the scheme are considered to significantly outweigh the potential public benefits”.
But news to defer the decision was welcomed by joint developers Hammerson and Ballymore, who said parts of the scheme could now be redesigned.
A spokesperson for the developers said: “We welcome the Mayor of London’s decision to defer the public hearing, allowing us to continue to work with the GLA, the local community and the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlet, to bring forward amended proposals and ensure that the Goodsyard helps fulfil the capital’s ambitions for long term growth.
Mayor Pipe, however, said it would be “unacceptable” for the developers to return with new plans “having simply shaved off a few floors and made some other minor tweaks”.
“We welcomed the GLA planners’ recommendations for refusal, which focused on concerns about shadowing and the impact on heritage sites.
“However, in addition to these we believe there should be much more affordable and flexible workspace, much more affordable housing provision and much better quality of design,” said the Mayor.