A Letter To The Times
Today, a new chapter opens in the story of our campaign to Save Norton Folgate with the publication of this letter in the The Times. Already a Judicial Review is scheduled in April to scrutinise the mishandling of British Land’s application by Boris Johnson and the Greater London Authority, now this letter asks Greg Clark, Secretary of State, to stage a Public Inquiry that can determine the best outcome for Norton Folgate.
To the Editor of The Times
We urge the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, to call in for his own determination – and hold a planning inquiry into – the British Land planning applications that are threatening the future of Norton Folgate in historic Spitalfields. This precious Conservation Area on the fringes of the City of London is under threat from plans by developer British Land to demolish a swathe of buildings for a banal office-led scheme. The plans were rejected by the democratically elected local Council, but this decision has been shamefully overruled by the Mayor of London, one of a string of permissions he has handed to developers against the will of local people and the mandate of local democracy.
Only a thorough public inquiry can determine the best outcome for this sensitive historic area. The Spitalfields Trust has commissioned its own scheme for the site from Burrell, Foley, Fischer Architects. This repairs and reuses the historic fabric, provides sensitive in-fill in keeping with the scale and character of the area as well as serving the interests of local businesses, particularly SMEs and micro enterprises, and the need for housing in the Borough. It has been independently costed, is viable, and could be delivered immediately and speedily, for a fraction of the development cost.
David Bailey CBE, Photographer
Alan Bennett, Writer
Clem Cecil, Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage
Julie Christie, Actress
Dan Cruickshank, Architectural Historian
Ralph Fiennes, Actor
Mark Girouard, Architectural Historian
Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum
Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Garden Designer
Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actress
Suggs McPherson, Madness
John Nicolson MP, SNP spokesman on Culture, Media & Sport
Dame Sian Phillips, Actress
Jonathan Pryce, Actor
Charles Saumarez Smith, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy
Rohan Silva, Second Home
Rupert Thomas, Editor of World of Interiors
Jeanette Winterson, Writer
Please add your name to the illustrious list of those calling for a Public Inquiry by writing direct to the Secretary of State. The Spitalfields Trust suggest you include the following points in your letter which you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
- This is not just a very important case for London, it is also of national importance and has serious implications for Conservation Areas across the country.
- This fragile Conservation Area is protected by local Conservation Guidelines, which this application disregards.
- The vitality of the City does not depend upon demolishing some warehouses in Spitalfields.
- The democratic decision at a local level has been over-ruled by the centralised intervention of the Mayor of London.
- The Spitalfields Trust’s Conservation Scheme for Norton Folgate is independently costed and is viable. It could be delivered more quickly and far more cheaply than that proposed by British Land. It is based upon the repair of the existing historic buildings, with sensitive infill of empty sites in keeping with the Conservation Area.
- The Spitalfields Trust’s scheme would provide more affordable business accommodation, particularly for small businesses and provide more housing, both low cost and private, for the local borough.
- This case has given rise to substantial local and national controversy, and has been widely covered in the media.
- The whole-scale demolition of heritage assets in the Conservation Area conflicts fundamentally with national policies as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework in section 12 in relation to conserving and enhancing the historic environment.
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