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02/04/2014

Johnson controversially approves 4,500 homes for London

Words: Roger Milne
Convoys Wharf development

London Mayor Boris Johnson has controversially given the go-ahead to two major housing schemes previously turned down by councils for their lack of affordable housing.

The two schemes – City Forum in Islington and Convoys Wharf in Deptford – will consist of approximately 4,500 home sand deliver just 823 affordable homes. They had already been rejected by Islington Council and Lewisham Council respectively.

The Islington scheme, City Forum (pictured below), consists of two Foster and Partners-designed tower blocks – one with 42 storeys and one with 36. Between them they will provide 995 homes, 30 per cent of which (298) will be affordable. In December, Islington Council refused planning permission for the scheme on the grounds of insufficient affordable housing.

The second scheme, the Terry Farrell-designed Convoys Wharf at Deptford (pictured below) will provide some 3,500 new homes on a derelict 40-acre docklands site, with just 525 affordable homes (15 per cent). Johnson called in this development after the developer, Hutchinson Whampoa, had complained that Lewisham Council was taking too long to reach a decision.

The London Mayor has also recently approved a 910-home scheme in Brentford, which is part of a football stadium development and includes no affordable housing. A decision is awaited on a proposed scheme at Mount Pleasant that will deliver 883 homes plus shops and restaurants and with an affordable housing quota of just 12 per cent approximately. Decision-making for this project, which borders Camden and Islington councils, was taken over by Johnson because the planning authorities were being too slow to reach a decision.

Johnson, who last week vowed to deliver 42,000 new homes a year to London, claims to be on track to give the go-ahead to 100,000 affordable homes by the end of his second term as Mayor in 2016.

The Mayor has been accused by critics of carrying out an assault on local democracy by calling in so many applications – five in the last year alone. A motion was even passed last month in the London Assembly which raised concerns that Johnson’s frequent use of call-in powers is a threat to ‘local democracy’.

Johnson himself has said: “London is enjoying an unprecedented population boom and by 2030 will become the first city in Europe to be home to 10 million people. “Building new homes and creating more jobs is absolutely crucial so that we can ensure this growth is sustainable.”

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