Photograph: Colin O'Brien

Campaigners surround Norton Folgate. Photograph: Colin O’Brien

Heritage activists are celebrating after councillors rejected controversial plans for the development of a historic Spitalfields site.

Tower Hamlets councillors voted decisively against developer British Land’s Blossom Street scheme, in last night’s Strategic Development committee meeting.

Councillors raised concerns at the impact of the proposals on the Elder Street Conservation area, and took issue with the scheme’s level of affordable housing.

The rejection was a significant victory for the supporters of the ‘Save Norton Folgate’ campaign, led by campaign group The Spitalfields Trust.

The Trust argues that British Land’s proposals for an office-led development of the Norton Folgate site would result in the demolition of unique streetscape, turning heritage buildings into “shells”.

The Spitalfields Trust mobilised hundreds to sign petitions, write objections to the planning application and form a human chain in a “show of strength”.

Reacting to the committee’s refusal, Spitalfields Trust Administrator Oliver Leigh-Wood told the Hackney Citizen: “We are very pleased at the councillor’s decision but we accept it is merely part of an ongoing battle which sadly is attempting to erase a conservation area.”

“That the City of London Corporation can go out and secretly buy this area with the sole purpose of maximising return is incredible, but that is what has happened.

“British Land will come back and back, throwing money at this until they get what they want.”

A Tower Hamlets council spokesperson said: “Last night at the Strategic Development Committee, the committee resolved not to follow the officers’ recommendation to approve the Norton Folgate planning application.

“The committee raised concerns around the impact that this would have on the historic buildings and the conservation area. They also expressed concern around the general level of housing as well as affordable housing in the planning proposals.”

A spokesperson for British Land said: “We are disappointed the planning committee didn’t recognise the considerable merits of our scheme. We are now considering our options.”

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