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Labour calls for investigation into Jenrick’s Docklands project approval

Words: Huw Morris
Robert Jenrick / Chris McAndrew

The Labour Party has demanded that the Cabinet Office should investigate housing secretary Robert Jenrick’s approval of a £1 billion housing development which last week he accepted was unlawful.

Jenrick approved plans to build 1,524 homes at the former Westferry Printworks on the Isle of Dogs in January, the day before community infrastructure levy charges placed on developments were increased. The decision meant that former Conservative Party donor Richard Desmond avoided paying between £30 million and £50 million, according to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

In a letter to cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, shadow housing minister Mike Amesbury called for a “thorough investigation” into the events around the decision.

“Serious questions need to be answered about why this decision was taken, a decision which could have saved a Conservative donor tens of millions of pounds, and in the process deprived local residents of vital infrastructure funding,” he said.

“It’s essential that we have transparency in processes such as this so that trust can be maintained in our housing and planning system.”

Tower Hamlets council had taken legal action against Jenrick, claiming the timing of his decision appeared to show bias towards Desmond, before the housing secretary allowed the decision to be quashed.

Image credit | Chris McAndrew