Yesterday’s news that Boris has agreed to call in the Mount Pleasant application is a dreadful blow for local democracy. It is disappointing, if not surprising, that the now private developers – Royal Mail Group – tried to go above the heads of Islington and Camden Councils because they weren’t getting it all their own way; but it is disgraceful that Boris has decided to grant RMG their wish by calling in the application to City Hall.
The Mayor has said that his decision is based on trying to speed up the application to get on with building thousands of homes, but he fails to say that the reason for the ongoing discussions between RMG and Islington and Camden Councils was because the Councils were pushing RMG to increase the number of affordable housing units – which, in RMG’s latest plans, stands at an appalling 12% of the total number of units.
What is worrying is that the Mayor has shown bad form before about going above the heads of local councils with the Convoy’s Wharf development in Lewisham. If he repeats this with the Mount Pleasant development and grants RMG their planning permission after the hearing, he will, once again, demonstrate how apathetic he is about properly addressing the housing crisis that London is facing so that ordinary people can afford to live here. He is pushing us towards the situation where we’ll see a hollowing out of our great city, where houses in central London will simply become the playground of the rich and wealthy.
Rest assured, I will continue to fight on behalf of Islington Council and the residents who will be affected by this. The right to decide on this planning application must be handed back to local, elected officials and, more importantly, the residents of Islington and Camden that the Councillors are here to represent.