Protest march against Bishopsgate goods yard development

26 November 2015, Blog

On Sunday 15 November, campaigners took part in a protest march against plans to redevelop east London’s controversial Bishopsgate goods rail terminal. They were furious that London Mayor Boris Johnson has ‘called in’ the proposals for tower blocks of luxury apartments, as high as 48 storeys, after both Tower Hamlets and Hackney local authorities rejected the scheme.

The march was organised by ‘More Light, More Power’, an umbrella campaign involving local organisations. Campaigners say the proposed “faceless corporate architecture will damage the community, environment and block out light for thousands of people”. They claim to support development, but only if it enhances the physical and social environment.

‘More Light, More Power’ has been running an online petition urging rejection of the current scheme outright. David Donoghgue, IT coordinator, said: “This is an issue for all the community”. He added: “The goods yard is public land owned by Railtrack, yet less than 10 per cent is going to be affordable for families or small businesses. It’s mainly overseas speculators to ‘buy to leave’ and keep empty”.

Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe started a ‘Save Shoreditch’ fight earlier this year when he said: “These towers almost as tall as Canary Wharf might be okay for the City, but are completely out of scale for Shoreditch and would fragment the local cluster of design and tech firms with luxury flats well beyond the reach of ordinary Londoners”.

The developers had to modify the original plans in the face of opposition and pledged to “preserve the site heritage while creating new homes, offices and shops to keep the area growing and vibrant”. However, campaigners who commissioned an alternative scheme say Ballymore’s modifications just “scratch the surface” and do not address the main concerns of the community.

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