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London Mayor Boris Johnson, one of the capital’s most talked-about characters, has instigated controversy recently with his involvement with Royal Mail Group’s development proposal.
The recently privatised company hopes to undertake the construction of a mixed-use site to include shops, restaurants, offices, and 683 homes – at the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant site, in London’s Islington Borough, and otherwise known as London Central Mail Centre.
The mayor has agreed to take over a planning application for the substantial redevelopment – of over half the site – essentially removing authority from the Boroughs of Camden and Islington. Plans were mooted long before the British institution was privatised, however, as far back as March last year. The ability for the mayor to take over an application in circumstances such as this is contained in Article 7 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008.
Many people are against the development, not least because it proposes only 12% affordable housing (although the figure had earlier been 20%), meaning that many local people would be priced out of the majority of the residential scheme. Other critics observe that the high-rise nature of the development (some as high as 15 storeys) would be incongruous with the local surrounding conservation areas. Royal Mail has countered the argument with the need for housing in the area and the opportunity to create over a thousand new jobs to contribute towards the local economy.
The mayor’s decision to take over as planning authority was given as a way to speed up the development, although the councils argue that timescales would not have been an issue under their supervision. Critics believe that Johnson took over the process in order to avoid having the planning permission rejected by the councils.
This news was brought to you by Morgan Pryce, a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants.