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Hackney planners back Hammerson’s City of London Bishop’s Square plans

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Hackney Borough Council's planning officers have recommended approval for Hammerson’s first phase of its £700m Bishop’s Quarter plans.

Planning officers at the council said they approved plans for the 1m sq Foster & Partners-designed first phase – Bishop’s Square - which comprises 645,000 sq ft of offices, 310 flats, and a hotel on a site bounded by Curtain Road and Norton Folgate.

It will form part of Hammerson’s overall 4.5m sq ft Bishops Quarter plans at the 10 acre site.

The report submitted by the planning office said the plans ‘represent a significant opportunity to realise a regional and local policy objective to deliver large footprint office based floor space which can contribute to the economic prosperity of London.’

It said it would add diversity to the area and would contribute to the Council’s housing targets.

There are a number of listed buildings within the site, which is a designated Conservation Area, but the planning officers said: ‘the relationship between the proposed very tall buildings which will form a cluster to tall buildings in an arc to Bishopsgate Goodsyard, can sit acceptably with the smaller scale and form of the adjacent Conservation Areas’.

It will be decided before a planning committee this Thursday evening.

Two public consultations on the proposals have been held since September last year.

The majority of the site is owned by the council and will be let to Hammerson on a long leasehold for a ‘significant sum of money’ and the planning officers have cautioned in their report that this raised ‘issues of probity’.

‘It is therefore important that members make their decision to resolve to grant or refuse planning permission purely on the planning merits of the case and not on other factors,’ it said.

The first phase of the scheme has faced local opposition from James Goff, owner of the Light Bar on Shoreditch High Street who commissioned architect Willingale Associates to draw up alternative proposals for the entire 10 acre site.

Planning officers said in their report: ‘The Light Bar currently does not afford any statutory protection and can be demolished without permission. In addition, it is acknowledged that an increase in railway capacity into Liverpool Street that Network Rail retains as an option, would result in the potential removal of the Light Bar and a series of other buildings within the immediate vicinity, if funding becomes available in future’.

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