Shoreditch development sparks off protest

East London artists are backing an 11th-hour campaign to halt office developments proposed for the border of Shoreditch and the City of London.

Campaign group Open Shoreditch has today sent an open letter to Mayor Ken Livingstone, condemning the Greater London Authority’s ‘relentless support for tall buildings’. It asks Livingstone to suspend two planning applications, one of which is due to be heard on Thursday.

The letter’s signatories include artists Tracy Emin, Dinos Chapman, Gavin Turk and Rachel Whiteread.

‘We… are facing the prospect of being driven out of the area by development gone mad,’ begins the letter.

‘The land between Shoreditch and Brick Lane appears to have been set aside for the City of London’s use. A dense forest of towers up to 50 storeys high will soon block out our light and overshadow our streets and homes,’ the letter continues.

Besides being a thriving artistic community, Shoreditch is home to one of the biggest concentrations of design consultancies in the UK.

The two proposed developments lie to the east and west of the Bishopsgate goods yard. Plans for the eastern site incorporate a 25-storey block on Brick Lane, while those for the western site involve the demolition of local bar The Light.

‘The GLA has let us down by failing to commission a comprehensive master plan, jeopardising a chance for development that respects its built context and truly benefits the local population,’ says the letter. It demands a public competition to find a ‘new, inspired and independent master plan for the site’.

The Mayor is due to make a statement later today.

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