Shoreditch skyscrapers: Home of the hipsters is under threat from development plans

The Mayor of Hackney warns the two towers will 'overshadow' local buildings

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The Independent Online

Shoreditch, London, home of the hipster; tech start-up companies; pop-up cafes and extravagant facial hair is being threatened by developers who want to build two skyscrapers in its creative heart, it has been claimed.

Jules Pipe, the Mayor of Hackney, has issued an impassioned plea for people to sign his petition against the Bishopsgate Goodsyard development, which would involve building two apartment blocks on the site of a former rail depot.

Amid claims that institutions including Shoreditch House, the private members’ club, would be “completely overshadowed” by the 47-storey and 43-storey towers, Mr Pipe warned: “These luxury flats will cast a shadow over the whole of Tech City and threaten to damage the local creative economy. The repercussions could be so severe they lead to the loss of thousands of local jobs.”

In comments that might provoke schadenfreude among those complaining that their own areas are suffering an influx of privileged hipsters and “Shoreditchification”, Mr Pipe said the project risked subjecting Shoreditch itself to “Canary Wharf-isation”.

The towers envisaged by the developers Hammerson and the Ballymore Group, he said, risked ruining the “ecosystem” that attracted young programmers and entrepreneurs.

“At the moment Shoreditch has the independent bars and cafés that give them the buzz they enjoy. An alien Canary Wharf-style development… will make them fear that the nature of the area has changed to become more corporate. They would worry that the independent bars would be squeezed out by the chains.”

Mr Pipe added: “It is totally out of scale for Shoreditch, and the whole development’s 10 per cent affordable housing figure is derisory.”

Mr Pipe, whose petition urges London Mayor Boris Johnson to oppose the towers, was backed by Ben Southworth, 33, founder of the Tech City Says No! campaign against the Goodsyard development.

Mr Southworth, whose company 3-Beards organises events for London start-ups and is based in a “innovation lab” five minutes walk from where the skyscrapers will be, claimed “the whole Shoreditch triangle” could be overshadowed.

Built to the south, the towers could block sun even to the tallest building on Shoreditch High Street – the eight-storey Tea Building, a former Liptons Tea warehouse now home to Shoreditch House, as well as media and fashion companies.

A spokesman for the developers said they were “slightly surprised” by Mr Pipe’s attack on a project that is due to be completed in the late-2020s.

He said: “Everything, including the affordable housing element, is still very much open to discussion… further amendments are likely to be made to the scheme. Our vision has been guided by the established planning policies of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority, which identifies the site as suitable for tall buildings.”