Johnson approves Royal Mail housing development

London mayor Boris Johnson has approved plans for a controversial major mixed-use development comprising nearly 700 homes on part of a postal sorting office site straddling two London boroughs.

Johnson: we have been able to bring forward a scheme that had been in serious danger of stalling
Johnson: we have been able to bring forward a scheme that had been in serious danger of stalling

A statement issued last week on behalf of the mayor said that Johnson had been able to negotiate for the Mount Pleasant postal sorting site redevelopment to include 24 per cent affordable housing, instead of the originally proposed 12 per cent.

The development, in buildings up to 15 storeys across two application sites, comprises 681 residential units, 4,260 square metres of office space, 2,250 square metres of retail and community space, with parking, landscaping and public realm works.

Of the scheme’s 681 homes, 163 would be affordable, the Greater London Authority said. Of those, 98 would be for affordable rent and 65 would be for shared ownership, it added.

"The affordable rent homes will be an average of 44 per cent of the full market rental value in the area and some of the larger family units could be between 20 to 30 per cent of the full market rental value," the statement said.

The mayor took on the role of planning authority earlier this year following a request from applicant Royal Mail Group.

Royal Mail submitted separate applications to the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington in June last year, but subsequently complained to the mayor that the local authorities were taking too long to determine the proposals for the scheme.

Royal Mail bosses called on the mayor to intervene and determine the application under Article 7 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008.

Greater London Authority officers recommended that the scheme be approved.

Their report said that the scheme would make a significant contribution to the housing delivery targets for the area. "Based on current values and costs and protected values and costs, the scheme delivers the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing," the report said.

Johnson said: "Building new homes is absolutely crucial and by working closely with the local authorities and Royal Mail we have been able to bring forward a scheme that had been in serious danger of stalling while doubling the amount of affordable homes."

But in a statement, James Murray, the London Borough of Islington's executive member for housing and development, said: "A vital opportunity to build hundreds of genuinely affordable homes for local people has been bulldozed by Boris.

"Our independent advice shows the Mount Pleasant scheme would still make money with almost twice as much affordable housing and at social rents.

"We need genuinely affordable housing in the capital, but today’s decision means that Londoners are missing out, while investors in luxury flats and Royal Mail shares are benefitting. This decision is wrong for London."

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