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On The Bishopsgate Goodsyard

November 2, 2014
by the gentle author

As many readers are painfully aware, a monster development is proposed for the Bishopsgate Goodsyard which threatens to blight the East End for generations to come – already described by one commentator as “the biggest thing to hit Shoreditch since the plague.” Today, I publish this guide to how to object effectively which has been prepared by the East End Preservation Society.




This is intended as a clear and simple guide on how to object to the Bishopsgate Goodsyard Proposals.

The formal deadline for comments is 8th November and it is best to submit your letters and emails by this date. However, we understand that objections will be accepted until the New Year.

It is important that you use your own words because if Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils receive lots of identical responses, they will treat these objections as one in their report, devaluing the number of objections received. It is therefore just as important that you add your own, personal reasons for opposing this development.

At some point in your response state clearly that you are objecting to the application, so there can be no doubt that they should take your correspondence as opposition.

The following are known as material considerations and are valid reasons for Councils to refuse applications:



This is one of the key points to make. Two of the proposed buildings are 48 and 46 storeys tall (plus service equipment on the top which roughly equates to another 4 storeys).

Two of the other towers are 30 and 34 storeys tall (plus service equipment on the top).

The height is dramatically out of scale with the surrounding area.

It will harm the setting of the surrounding 5 conservation areas and their many listed buildings.

Even a 20 storey building in this area would be a ‘tall building’.



The new buildings do not respond to the character of the surrounding areas and, as generic modern tower blocks, will appear out of place.



The massing of the proposed development is overwhelming.

The surrounding areas are defined by comparatively small plot sizes and have much lower buildings.

The proposed buildings will not integrate with the existing urban grain because of their disproportionate massing.



A large amount of 19th-century historic fabric surviving on the site will be demolished including many of the brick arches (labelled in the application as vaults V1-V11) and the handsome Victorian wall that runs along Commercial Street.



Light levels in surrounding areas will be seriously compromised. Casting much of the area to the north into shadow.

43% of the existing surrounding buildings surveyed by the developer’s consultants will suffer major loss of sunlight. Obviously, this is not an acceptable level of impact.

The development will also affect the character of East London around the Bishopsgate Goodsyard site. This is a colourful area, of markets, small businesses, creativity and innovation that only exists because the existing urban grain is small scale and historic.

Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils have published their own planning guidance for the Goodsyard site. This sets out key requirements for the new development, one of which is that it should ‘integrate with the surrounding area, taking into account the local character.’ On page 99 of the Design and Access Statement the applicant duly agrees that the first principle of their development is to ‘ensure the site integrates with the surrounding area, taking into account the local character.’ However, in section 3.1.20 of the same document the applicant says ‘It [the proposed development] will be a new place with its own distinct scale, identity and character; it will not attempt to become a seamless part of the existing neighbourhood.’

This is a direct contradiction of their earlier statement and a rejection of the planning guidance to which they should adhere.



We cannot find any details of affordable housing provision in this outline application. However, should you find any more details within these documents please alert us – and we can pass it on!



There are seven ‘Townscape Character Areas’ [areas of distinct architectural identity] outlined by the applicant which are listed below. We have summarised what they say about how each area will be affected by the development. If you live in any of these areas, you might want to comment on whether you think they are correct!

1. The Bishopsgate Goodsyard Site is described by the developer as having ‘low sensitivity to change’ (i.e. they consider that its townscape is of little value) and that the Grade II listed structures are ‘remnants of utilitarian structures in an immediate context of poor urban townscape quality.’

2. Shoreditch is characterised by the developers as having ‘moderate sensitivity to change’ because ‘The townscape settings of the grade I and II listed buildings [here] have a densely developed urban setting on the City fringe.’

3. Bethnal Green Road is defined by the applicants as having ‘moderate sensitivity to change’ – this is a way of saying that it will not be greatly affected by the proposed massive new development.

4. Spitalfields is described, surprisingly, as having ‘moderate sensitivity to change’ despite the fact that this is an area with an extraordinarily high concentration of listed buildings – and one of the most important historic districts of London.

5. The City (Liverpool Street Station, Spitalfields Market) again is described as having ‘moderate sensitivity to change.’

6. Boundary Estate (Arnold Circus) – one of the most interesting, complete, important and revered late 19th/ early 20th century philanthropic housing schemes is lumped into the category of having ‘moderate sensitivity to change.’

7. Eastern Fringe (towards Bethnal Green) is dismissed as having ‘low sensitivity to change’ due to the fact that it is further away from the site and is an ‘overall piecemeal townscape.’



The planning officers to send your objection to are:

Nasser Farooq
Quoting application numbers: PA/14/02011 and PA/14/02096


Russell Smith
Quoting application numbers: 2014/2425 and 2014/2427

Both Tower Hamlets and Hackney Council will potentially be deciding the applications.



This application is so potentially damaging to East London, both in scale and impact, that we believe strongly it should be decided by the Secretary of State at a public inquiry, not by the local planning authorities. Anyone can ask for an application to be decided by the Secretary of State (it is called a ‘call in’ request) so we recommend you email Eric Pickles and voice your concerns:

Elder St, before

Elder St, after

Boundary Estate, before

Boundary Estate, after

Great Eastern St, before

Great Eastern St, after

Commercial St, before

Commercial St, after

Commercial St, before

Commercial St, after

Commercial St at night, after

Overview of the development with Spitalfields in the foreground

Follow the East End Preservation Society


Click here to join the East End Preservation Society


You may also like to read about

The East End Preservation Society
The Launch of The East End Preservation Society
Victory for the East End Preservation Society
A Brief History of Bishopsgate Goodsyard

38 Responses leave one →
  1. ROBERT GREEN permalink
    November 2, 2014

    GOOD GRIEF, those pictures really do emphasize the massive impact that this monstrosity of a development would have on this area, the fact that any planning officer would even need public opposition to persuade them of the absurdity of such a development is in itself a telling indictment of the attitude of many local authority’s, Spitalfields more than any area of Britain has always been an area of change, but change can only be justified if it brings progress, and the progress must be for the general good of everyone, not just the selected few, and the relentless pursuit of COMMERCIAL development regardless of the social consequences as proposed by this development is MORALLY WRONG, = PROGRESS =YES, but at ANY COST = NO.

  2. November 2, 2014

    The before and after pictures make it very clear how the district will be destroyed. Do you think protests will be accepted from people like me, who don’t live there anymore? Valerie

  3. the gentle author permalink*
    November 2, 2014

    Yes Valerie, anyone from anywhere can object.

  4. Greg Tingey permalink
    November 2, 2014

    One extra point, that is often forgotten about tall buildings, especially if there are groups of them….
    Tall buildings divert & funnel even moderate breezes & can significantly increas ground wind-speeds, to the point of discomfort & danger – people get blown over & hurt.

    [ The top ends of Bishopsgate, Gt Eastern St/Commercial St are going to be very unpleasant in a strong SW gale ]

  5. Elizabeth cornwell permalink
    November 2, 2014

    That development is appalling.When people train to be architects arent they taught about scale,or relevancy to the surroundings?Or is this just another example of the poor education that blights this poor country.I hate what is happening & allowed to happen through greed & incompetence!

  6. Vicky permalink
    November 2, 2014

    Thank you so much for these guidance notes! I felt overwhelmed until now with so many objections but not quite knowing what to do for the best. I shall marshall my arguments and send them today.

  7. November 2, 2014

    BEWARE! One fine day they can only blow up these ugly things which offends ones eyes! — HRH Prince Charles should be involved here!

    Love & Peace

  8. November 2, 2014

    Thank you so much for providing this guidance. I will be lodging my objection forthwith and encouraging others to do too.
    Alistair Polson
    TH Green Party

  9. November 2, 2014

    Thank you for taking a stand and informing the world of these awful plans.
    I am Belgian and we don’t have a lot of tower buildings here, personally I think London is getting too much of them.
    And my biggest objection next to the fact that they destroy the historical view is that I wonder how these buildings will look in 100 years time…
    They will not look like the historical 100 year old buildings currently on site. I see everywhere councils demolishing buildings that were revolutionary and considered beautiful in the 60’s and 70’s. Today those buildings often look like dreary old things. You often wonder how crazy they were demolishing valuable heritage to put those ‘modern’ buildings there…
    I have a client in Clapham who stopped the development of taller buildings in her Battersea rise area with a few other residents. I am happy to hear that public objection does still matter. I hope it will matter in this case too. I tweeted this story and hopefully I will get people your way to send in letters. I wonder if letters of foreigners are allowed…

  10. November 2, 2014

    Thanks for the answer, I will send off a very strong protest! Valerie

  11. the gentle author permalink*
    November 2, 2014

    This is a location of international significance, anyone can object

  12. November 2, 2014

    Then I will send my letter!

  13. Miss Gherkin permalink
    November 2, 2014

    TGA, thank you for emphasising the importance of cc’ing Eric Pickles.

    As we know, Boris Johnson did not hesitate to overrule the council’s decision against the ‘development’ of the Fruit and Wool Exchange.

    We really need to get Mr Pickles involved.

  14. Juliet. Shipman permalink
    November 2, 2014

    It is tragic the way the character of London is being eroded by skyscrapers so that historic buildings are dwarfed and increasing London appears to resemble singapore..
    How much does the blame lie at the feet of Boris Johnson who often gives the green light to these developments?

  15. Beryl Happe permalink
    November 2, 2014

    We should start an action group and start lobbying HRH Prince Charles to add a bit of clout to our argument. Letters on their own may or may not have any impact, whereas a letter from him would certainly help. We need some help from somebody in the know.

  16. Peter Holford permalink
    November 2, 2014

    The scale of the tower blocks is enough to warrant an objection. But beyond that the proposed blocks are of the blandest design with zero architectural merit. Even in twenty years they would not be valued and would be seen as adding nothing to the built environment. This is a current trend that is being driven by a bubble in asset prices. When (not ‘if’) the bubble bursts monstrosities such as this wouldn’t see the light of day. It’s important that they aren’t built now!

  17. Zak permalink
    November 2, 2014

    These horrible towers also have to be viewed in the context of the dreadful planning decisions already taken just across the road, namely Bards 50 story Tower, Plough Yard and Principal Place, Bishopgate, also awful designs, also purely greed driven. With the addition of these monoliths a dull and windy cross roads will be created in the most interesting cultural and historic intersection in London – Spittalfields, Shoreditch & Bethnal Green. These planners and developers are ripping the heart and soul out of the area , and replacing it with identikit glass box rubbish, it’s boarder line criminal that 200+ years of history can be ruined in less than 5 years. Greed, corruption, money – it’s like a horrific Amis novel in real life.

  18. Chris Ashby permalink
    November 2, 2014

    I’ve just written to each of these three individuals strongly objecting to these monstrous proposals.
    We’ve seen off damaging plans in the past and I’m hopeful we can do this again in this instance.
    Thanks for your guidance,
    Best wishes,
    Chris A.

  19. November 3, 2014

    I added my 2 pence worth. It is disheartening that this sort of over-scale development is constantly threatened.

  20. November 3, 2014

    Where will our sky go! Apart from the continued crowding, there’s the question of how long these buildings will last. Most of the developments going up now will not be there in twenty or so years’ time, because we won’t be able to sustain the supposed growth that calls for them. So they’ll end up coming down, after causing damage to the local scene, and goodness knows what will replace them.

  21. Victoria permalink
    November 3, 2014

    Thank you for bringing the proposed development plans to wider public attention plus an easy to follow guide for making a constructive objection, I will certainly be doing so. Those photos show what could come to be horrific.

  22. annie s permalink
    November 3, 2014

    Thank you for this information, I was aware there was to be some development but had no idea of the scale of things!
    I’m not very good at knowing how to word objections but I will certainly do my best.

  23. Emma O'Regan permalink
    November 4, 2014


  24. Derek Hammond permalink
    November 4, 2014

    These new buildings will be so dreadful, and to demolish more of historic London to build them too. I have been reading about Bishopsgate Goodsyard in a book about railways by the Museum of London, many people died in the Goodsyard during world war 1 when there was a stampede to get into an air raid shelter

  25. November 4, 2014

    Good to hear that non-UK residents can also object. I have just e-mailed my objection. Can’t let them do that to the city I love!

  26. D S permalink
    November 5, 2014

    The new tower on Bethnal Green Road next to these towers has already created a potentially lethal wind funnel. Less than a year ago while standing on Sclater St a huge squall came down the street, tore corrugated roofing off the premises alongside the new railway and blew a cyclist backwards off her bike. The wind hazard itself cannot be mitigated, it will get worse.

    We have seen enough destruction of London’s skyline. I’d move to Toronto or singapore if I wanted to live in a place that looked like every other identikit tower dominated urban landscape.

    Apart from the affordable housing, the vast majority of housing space will become empty properties owned by non doms who contribute nothing to the character or economy of the neighbourhood, check out all the other ghost residential towers opened in the past 5 years.

  27. Bea Barton permalink
    November 6, 2014

    Has anyone thought about getting Dan Cruickshank involved? He lives near Elder Street I believe and was one of the original campaigners who saved the historic housing of Spitalfields when developers wanted to knock it all down in the 70s. He was also involved in the campaign to save The Light Bar building(which at the moment looks like it’s under scaffold and will be bulldozed). Getting someone of his calibre involved would be a good thing! We live in EC2 and my husband works in Shoreditch. We don’t need any more identikit glass towers of limited architectural merit degrading the historic cityscape of Spitalfields and Shoreditch. Especially one that won’t offer any affordable housing to Londoners. As for providing more office space… you only have to look at all empty A1 class offices around the City to see we don’t require any more of those!

  28. Mark Amies permalink
    November 7, 2014

    When will these meglomaniacs stop? They are destroying London with these awful, crass symbols of greed and vanity. The really sad thing here is that it was down to Ken Livingstone that the proliferation of high rise building took place. He removed the restrictions, and very soon London will end up looking like ‘Mega City’.
    The Cheesegrater shed two massive steel bolts yesterday and last year the Walkie Talkie fried a motor car.
    For the sake of this wonderful city’s heritage, please stop building this stuff!

  29. Laserwill permalink
    November 9, 2014

    I thought the Nichols and Clark scheme achieved some sort of balance but this Goodsyard proposal is gross and such an unimaginative use of this special site. I have objected to both local authorities and to Mr Pickles, although I feel little enthusiasm for getting him involved.

  30. Baarbara Hague permalink
    November 19, 2014

    The pictures of the proposed tower blocks look to be overwhelming the present local buildings.
    Will they immediately be bought up by foreign (Chinese etc?) interests to be let for the luxury renting market at a great profit?

    The proposal looks to completely spoil a traditional area.

  31. John Levy permalink
    November 21, 2014

    As an Australian, I might seem far removed from these developments. However, in the 19th century, this was the home of my family and I’d hope that the area would be treated with respect. I am not against development but it should be in harmony with the character of the existing surrounds, not visually overpower them. I’ve recently spent some time in the East End and I want to see the character of the area preserved. The tourist ‘dollar’ or ‘pound’ is an important source of revenue for England – don’t destroy those things that make people want to visit. Landmarks like Nelson’s Column, though interesting, are not where my family lived and worked. Preserve the East End.

  32. caroline vincent permalink
    November 28, 2014

    Destroying history again. WHY?
    And what’s all that about the “little people of Shoreditch?”

  33. Dan permalink
    November 29, 2014

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. I have written stating my objections. This is what I sent:

    I am writing to express my objections to the plans as currently
    proposed for The Bishopsgate Goodsyard.

    I live and work in the immediate area and have looking at the plans
    and found almost nothing in them that will benefit existing residents
    and people working in the area like myself.

    I object fundamentally to the height of these new buildings. No
    thought has been given to the surrounding landscape which will be
    badly effected by them. This is especially true for everyone
    immediately north of the development. They will block the view and
    sunlight all year round. Where will be our compensation for finding
    ourselves living in a darkened less attractive space?

    The height of the development cannot be radically different from the
    buildings immediately to the north. If they are they impact on all the
    people that live and work there.

    Even in the development they’s added the ‘green space’ to the south
    because green space needs sunlight. Yet they don’t mind blocking the
    sunlight to those living just to the north. The design is completely
    wrong and fundamentally ignores residents and workers to the north and south.

    I object most strongly to this development as it stands and as a
    resident, worker and tax payer in the area I will be watching the
    authorities very closely to see how they deal with this.

    – hope they listen!

  34. Kate Shapland permalink
    November 30, 2014

    One of the most disappointing aspects to this is the predictability of the whole mundane proposal & the way commercial gain is only valued in millions, not the real pounds that make a local business worth doing alongside the value of being part of a proper community and having good quality of life. Lip service only ever seems to be paid to preserving *context* and *atmosphere* with these schemes, when in invariably that’s ruined (witness the unsympathetic way the area around St Paul’s has been developed) so you get no sense of what the place or community was/is and the original historical architecture becomes like some sort of quaint little theme park. That irks me because the whole point of London is the detail (look closely at those stone pillars at the western end of the goodsyard – they are splendid and have London history etched into every brick ..), the spirit and character that comes from its social history. These monstrous glass and steel buildings have nothingoif that and patronise what London had and still wants to be proud of. Why does the fabric of our city need to change so it becomes another homogenised city? Soon London will be no different to Shanghai or Toronto as other commenters have said. And for what? Can’t London appoint a heritage gatekeeping panel that includes people who love and understand our city for its innate layer built character .. Dan Cruickshank? The Gentle Author? Peter Ackroyd? Philip Davies ..? I’ll take the minutes 😉

  35. Terry Bates permalink
    December 3, 2014

    Although aware that something unpleasant was happening, I had no idea of the scale of these buildings and their impact on the surrounding area. Why do we have planning officers who allow things like these to be serious proposals for development? More widely it seems to me there is no strategy for the whole of London which, as people say will become like any other high-rise dominated city. Why will people want to visit us when that happens? Unlike other cities there seem to be no rules otherwise how did that awful bullying building in Fenchurch Street ever get built? Paris, for example, simply decreed that within in the central ring no tall buildings will be built – no ifs or buts.

  36. Maria Way permalink
    December 3, 2014

    These two blocks are a total eyesore. They do not fit with the present area’s buildings. While I can see that some of the building that has happened in the last 10-20 years has definitely improved the area, the character has been affected considerably. The general Bishopsgate area now looks like many of the faceless ‘business areas’ of large cities throughout the world and the ‘London-ness’ is being destroyed. Do these buildings have to be so high? Do they have to be so ugly? Many years ago I moved out of London (unsuitable accommodation and a baby on the way) to a new estate of houses in Suffolk. The houses were a delight to live in, and while there were problems that the architects had not addressed (lack of amenities, for instance), when the architects visited I distinctly remember that they told me that the density of accommodation was actually higher than on a tower block estate, although there was grass and there were trees, because they did not have to allow for wind funnelling and a variety of other problems that arise with very tall buildings. Could a rethink not be done — even something a bit less like a very tall egg box would be an improvement.

  37. stephanie brann permalink
    December 3, 2014

    Dear Gentle Author,
    as a long term Hackney resident and former resident of old Spitalfields, I am heartbroken about what is happening and despair of our ability to influence the powers of money. Please could you answer my two questions.
    1. Is it true that the Head of Planning in Hackney is given a bonus for every planning consent pushed through? Can this be morally right? Does this explain some of the very insensitive decisions and monstrous buildings that are currently being imposed on Hackney?
    2. What is going to happen to Norton Folgate? What are the plans for the right hand side of Bishopsgate? I fear the worst.
    yours Stephanie Brann

  38. John Wright permalink
    December 6, 2014

    I totally agree with everyone’s comments. However the “affordable” housing situation is ominous. This “affordable” word has slid quickly into housing language and should be stopped. Whatever happened to “social” housing? I guarantee the developer will get a huge Government grant to give the poor people a home, but these “affordable” properties (if there are any) will never be affordable by working class people. Maybe cleverer people than myself can follow this up as it could be relevant to the application.

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