I have been following vicariously the debate over the development of Bishopsgate Goodsyard, a huge site between Spitalfields and Shoreditch, to the south of the Bethnal Green Road and next to Shoreditch station on the Overground. It is like many current new developments in the area massively over-scaled, overwhelming the surrounding neighbourhood which is still attractively low key – a contrast to the neighbouring City, very much not a part of it, including Redchurch Street and the Boundary Estate.
On the one hand, it looks hard to stop the juggernaut of new development, with office blocks growing higher and higher and architects apparently unable to retain a sense of local character or community at street level. On the other hand, it seems very odd for Sadiq Khan to be considering – and supporting – a gigantic scheme of new offices at just the moment when it looks as if the nature of office life is going to change and there may not be anything like the same demand for huge, open plan, anonymous and soulless floorplates; and when the scale of the proposed building will damage, if not utterly destroy, the character of its neighbourhood.
Nothing brought home the amount of change better than the accompanying interview with someone who worked at Bishopsgate Yard in the 1950s:-