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East London council takes steps to protect the Light Bar

Hackney council has voted to include the popular Light Bar inside the boundaries of its Shoreditch conservation area. The decision is crucial as it gives this attractive and historically significant Victorian building greater protection from demolition.

The decision will be a blow for the developers, Hammerson. The company's planning application to develop the Foster and Partners design for the site was deferred pending the outcome of this conservation review.

Lord Foster's scheme includes a 51-storey tower and 65,000sq m of housing, offices, shops and public spaces - but the £500 million pound city development has been vigorously opposed by local residents who don't want the historic townscape of Shoreditch High Street destroyed.

The Light Bar was built in 1893 to provide electric light for Liverpool Street station and Great Eastern Railway. The building was fully refurbished in the late 1990s and is now a popular bar and restaurant. At the time the renovation was praised as an excellent example of sustainable regeneration.

‘Now that the Light Bar is inside a conservation area it cannot be demolished without consent from the council, and any application to do so has to be seen to enhance the character of the area', said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser of the Victorian Society. ‘We welcome the council's decision as it is hard to see how demolishing such an attractive piece of Hackney's industrial heritage could possibly enhance Shoreditch High Street. ‘

The historic building acts as a gateway to Hackney, marking the divide between the city and the East End. A fact now acknowledged by Hackney council's decision.

 

Thursday 29 January, 2009

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