As Labour MP demands a meeting with the Mayor, Boris stays silent over controversial Mount Pleasant development
LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson appears to be ignoring letters from Islington South MP Emily Thornberry over the future of the controversial Mount Pleasant site.
Recently privatised Royal Mail want permission to build 1,600 luxury homes on the once publicly owned site in Clerkenwell, which would enable them to sell it for a fortune to developers. Shareholders would pocket the profits.
But Islington Council and residents are opposed to the scheme because it has just 12 per cent affordable housing and will do little to resolve the borough’s chronic housing shortage.
The Mayor has enraged campaigners by “calling-in” the development before Islington planners had even heard it, in order “to speed up the planning process”. He has been accused of wanting to wave it through to “help his friends in the City”.
Ms Thornberry has written three times to the Mayor, asking him for a meeting. But he has so far ignored them all.
In her latest letter, Ms Thornberry appeals to Mr Johnson to insist that developers who stand to earn billions from their schemes provide more socially affordable rented homes. She says that the proposal for the luxury development at Clerkenwell includes 683 homes, while the City Forum upmarket scheme in Finsbury is for 957 new homes.
The two proposals would produce a total of more than 1,600 homes – a huge addition to the local housing stock. But only a small percentage are affordable.
Ms Thornberry writes: “At every surgery, I speak to families in desperate housing need – families who are overcrowded, whose homes are unsuitable or insecure, homeless families who have been placed in hugely expensive temporary accommodation. If we were to aim for 50 per cent affordable housing on each of these two sites, we could potentially provide over 800 new homes for those in desperate housing need.”
She adds that Mount Pleasant is currently offering only 12 per cent affordable housing, and only 15 per cent of the units planned for City Forum are in any way “affordable”.
“If you decide to rubber stamp these applications, you will be denying hundreds of families the opportunity of a new affordable home.”
She has invited Mr Johnson to one of her surgeries where he could meet Islington families in need of housing.
“I will be at Islington Town Hall on Saturday, April 12 – please ring my office and let me know whether you are willing to come along.”