Landowners object to council’s conservation move tackling ‘inappropriate development’

One of the buildings added to the conservation area on Commercial Street. Photograph: Google.

A landowner, a property investment company and the City of London have “strongly objected” to a small extension of the conservation area covering South Shoreditch by the Town Hall.

A number of buildings on Shoreditch High Street, including Victorian-era former pubs and banks and a five-building Edwardian shopping parade, will now not be permitted to be demolished without the local authority’s say-so, with an attached requirement for “a higher standard of design for new development.”

The Town Hall says this will give it “the ability to manage inappropriate development and the loss of buildings within the area,” though the decision has attracted complaints from a landowner represented by The Estate Office Shoreditch, RT Group Property Investments, and the City of London Corporation, who between them own the now-protected area.

A representative of City of London and RT wrote: “The site is identified … in the draft Future Shoreditch Area Action Plan as a future major development opportunity.

“This is a distinctive conservation area, designated for its richly characterful commercial and industrial buildings. It is clear that this special character would be devalued, rather than maintained, if the site were to be included within the conservation area.

“The position of the site is outside the critical mass of special buildings that make up the conservation area. The Site relates weakly to the group on the opposite site of Shoreditch High Street, which can stand on its own merits.”

The Estate Office added that the council has “failed to establish that the extension area has an architectural or historic interest that is sufficiently ‘special’ to justify its designation by extension,” though the Town Hall disagrees.

It is understood that the council acted to review the boundaries of the protected area in Shoreditch as a result of the discovery of sites of architectural and historic interest, coupled with “development pressure” within the City Fringe area.

The buildings now protected run from 21-32 Shoreditch High Street, as well as 167-169 and a boundary wall on Commercial Street.

The Shoreditch Conservation Area Advisory Committee have welcomed the extension of the protected zone, saying that it “hope[s] this initiative will prove valuable inprotecting the heritage of the area.”

South Shoreditch’s conservation area is due to the historic concentration of the furniture trade in the area from the 1850s to the 1950s.

Cllr Guy Nicholson (Lab, Homerton), cabinet member for planning, culture and the inclusive economy, said: “This is a very, very small extension to South Shoreditch conservation area.

“The proposed extension is a small area. However, the buildings are considered a feature of the townscape and as such will add to the unique character of this thriving conservation area that makes up the heart of Shoreditch at the centre of Tech City.

“I would like to say thank you to all of those who did submit comments, but the officer recommendation stands to approve the extension to the area.

“I would also like to thank the conservation and design unit team.”

The objectors have been approached for comment.

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