September 21 2014 Latest news:
Monday, June 9, 2014
A secret visit by Boris Johnson to the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant site is a sign that the Greater London Authority intend to approve controversial plans to build 500 luxury homes, campaigners have claimed.
Mayor Mr Johnson was at what would be central London’s largest building site last month on a “fact-finding mission” before he passes judgement on Royal Mail’s proposals, which were rejected unanimously by both Islington and Camden councils earlier this year.
Mr Johnson called in the decision, bypassing both councils, saying he wanted to speed up the decision over the £100million development that will provide just 12 per cent affordable housing.
Residents living close to the site in Clerkenwell, who say they have been ignored throughout the planning process, believe a hasty decision could be disastrous.
“We’ve pretty much been told the decision will be made by August,” said Edward Denison, chair of Mount Pleasant Forum, a community group seeking an alternative plan for the site.
“I think there is an unnecessary haste there for a project of this size that has been rejected by two councils. It’s a problem of the whole thing being rushed because the Mayor wants to get it done.
“It should take as long as it needs to take, they haven’t wanted to speak to the local community. We want to make a legitimate representation but haven’t had that opportunity. It is clear they are seeking to approve the application.”
The forum and London Assembly members were refused when they asked to join Mr Johnson on his visit to the site last Wednesday.
Many are also yet to receive letters regarding changes to the application, consultation for which opened on Monday and will last for three weeks.
The Mount Pleasant Forum, referred to as “bourgeois nimbys” by Mr Johnson at a London Assembly meeting in February, have their own ideas for the site.
Mr Denison said: “We have been engaging with professionals for a number of months and continue to work with them to provide an alternative. This would include lower-rise buildings, better public space and as much affordable housing as possible.”
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “This was a private visit by the Mayor to ensure that he could see the proposed development site at first-hand.
“A site visit of this nature is usual practice ahead of a planning decision of this scale and will help the Mayor to make an informed decision when he considers the application later this summer.”