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Everyone's angry about... Norton Folgate

Isabelle Aron

We unpick the issues that have got Londoners all riled up. This week, it's proposal to take a bulldozer to the historic Norton Folgate buildings.

Norton who?

Norton Folgate is a historic area in Spitalfields which is under threat of demolition by mega-developer British Land. And not for the first time either: it tried back in 1977 but was stopped by conservation group Spitalfields Trust. Now, history is repeating itself after British Land released new redevelopment plans last year. Spitalfields Life rallied the troops again, launching a campaign to save Norton Folgate, which seemed to be a success after Tower Hamlets Council unanimously rejected British Land's proposal. But now it's in trouble again.

So what's the latest?

Boris Johnson decided that he didn't care for the council's ruling, so he's used his executive powers to overturn the decision. This came just days after Danish billionaire Troels Holch Povlsen offered to match whatever price British Land had promised to shell out for the site; his offer was rejected. Spitalfields Trust director Tim Whittaker says they're now seeking judicial review of Boris Johnson's handling of the case.

And what are British Land's grand plans?

Nigel Webb, head of developments at British Land, says they are 'acutely aware of the historical significance of the site'. But that's not stopping them from forging ahead with plans to develop seven new buildings, which will provide 40 flats, 13 retail units and 350,000 square feet of space dedicated to offices - because, obviously, London doesn't have enough of those.

UPDATE: OK, now the 'call-in' decision by the Mayor is up for judicial review. So the tables could turn yet again...

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