July 28 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Boris Johnson has dealt a blow to Islington Town Hall by approving plans for a 42-storey tower block in City Road.
The mayor passed the proposal for 1,000 new homes, in what will be the borough’s tallest building, despite the plan being rejected by Islington Council in November.
The Berkeley Homes development was refused by a council officer without reaching the town hall’s planning committee, partly due to it only providing 144 affordable homes, with a further 170 available for joint ownership.
The number is well short of the council’s 50 per cent target for new developments, but the decision was taken out of its hands when the Mayor used his powers to rule on it in January.
Berkeley had asked for Islington Council to contribute £4million of taxpayers’ money to the development, in exchange for the affordable rents – but this was thrown out by Mr Johnson.
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “We are very disappointed by the Mayor’s decision – he has waved this development through and let down people in Islington.
“We think the Mayor has been fooled by the developers who are going to make a lot of money from this scheme, and who we believe could provide many more genuinely-affordable homes for Londoners on this site.”
While the council was able to prevent a £4m contribution for affordable housing, the homes at social rents may only apply to the first tenants at the tower.
Speaking at the hearing, Cllr Murray asked the Mayor to build in a “review mechanism” to the planning permission – so that if the profit levels of the developer went up over the six years of the development being built, they would have to contribute more affordable housing. However the Mayor refused to do so.
The council also expressed disappointment that the Mayor swept aside concerns that the scheme has high levels of parking, does not provide inclusive access for disabled people and will have negative impacts on the quality of life for local people.
Mr Johnson is still pondering over plans for a 700-home development at the Royal Mail Group’s Mount Pleasant site in Farringdon Road, which he also called in back in January.
He is expected to make a decision on the plans, which will only provide 12 per cent affordable housing, in the summer.