applauded London MayorBoris Johnson's decision to delaya public hearing scheduled for April 18 to decide the future of its £800 millionBishopsgate Goodsyard development.
"Weremain committed to delivering the right scheme for the Goodsyard to regeneratethis site, which has been derelict for over 50 years," an April 14 statementemailed to S&P Global Market Intelligence said.
The REITsaid the decision to defer the hearing was "welcome" as it would allowmore time to work with community groups, local councils, the GLA and the boroughsof Tower Hamlets and Hackney to "bring forward amended proposals."
Hammersonproposes to develop the 4.4-acre site in a joint venture with Ballymore.
The newscomes after Johnson's planning team at City Hall recommended on April 8 that planning permission for the mixed-usescheme be refused on the grounds that the height, layout and density of the proposedscheme were "unacceptable."
Plansfor Bishopsgate Goodsyard feature 700,000 square feet of office space, over 1,350new homes (of which 10% are affordable) and 5.5 acres of public realm.
BarbaraWeiss, architect and cofounder of the Skyline Campaign, a group that has been protestingagainst the development, said she was "completely taken by surprise" bythe decision to postpone the hearing.
"Forall of us Boris-watchers, the Mayor has been completely unpredictable. I have noidea why this is happening, if this is a game he is playing or if it is due to pressurefrom the developers," she said in an interview.
Johnsonis currently in "purdah," Weiss pointed out, a pre-election period inwhich the central and local government face certain restrictions on making announcementsabout major initiatives until the results of the polls are known. Mayoral electionsare scheduled for May 5.
Weisssaid it was "quite possible" that Johnson was passing the decision onto his successor. This would put Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith in "aterrible bind" because of his "pro-community" approach, while Labourcandidate Sadiq Khan was likely to veto the project because the mayors of the twocouncils who opposed it are also Labour, she said.
Localcampaign group More Light More Power said in an April 14 statement on its website that thedevelopers would have to make substantial adjustments to the plans if they wereto be acceptable to local communities:
"MoreLight More Power declares a victory for the community in preventing permission beinggranted for this very damaging scheme — but minor amendments are not enough andthe applicant should now go back to the drawing board to have any chance of creatingsomething worthy of the Goodsyard site."