Monday 12 March 2012

Boris' Cynical Town Hall Development Scam Exposed

Nicky Gavron AM spotlights Boris' misleading
Hammersmith Town Hall intervention that could see
the dreaded scheme back this May
Mayor Boris Johnson (Con) and the Greater London Assembly members came to Hammersmith Town Hall last Wednesday night. The Mayor appears to have tried to mislead local residents about his role on the controversial Town Hall development by insinuating he had somehow stopped it. The audience clapped. But he hasn't stopped it.

What actually happened was following private discussions between London's Conservative Mayor and H&F’s Conservative Administration it was agreed that it would be best if their preferred developer “withdrew” the application. This happened to allow H&F Conservatives and their developer to retain a “live” application that can be re-presented to the Mayor after the May elections.

Nicky Gavron AM (Lab) was one of the GLA members sitting on the stage taking questions and is one of London’s leading housing and planning experts. Clearly astonished at the Mayor’s manipulation of the facts Ms. Gavron has penned this piece on her website:

“The Mayor was happy to take applause from local residents for ‘shelving’ the King Street/Hammersmith Town Hall redevelopment scheme. But as I pointed out, you have to ask yourself why the Mayor didn’t refuse the application?

The application that came to him was Stage II, the point at which you either agree with the council or direct refusal for the project – the Mayor has done neither. Last night the give away was that he said he couldn’t talk about the project because the planning application was live. The Mayor has kicked the project into touch so it can be thrown back in later.”

So is it possible Mr. Johnson chose not to refuse the Town Hall development because it would upset his Conservative friends and colleagues running Hammersmith and Fulham Council? And is it possible that he also chose not to approve it because he thought that would lose him tens of thousands of votes in this part of south west London during an election period? The answer to both questions is yes. Which explains why he's gone for the cynical option of booting his planning decision onto a patch of less sticky political ground situated after the May elections. Sadly, this political strategy appears to have worked as many people have been thoroughly taken in and incorrectly think he's blocked the scheme. He clearly hasn't and for those that listened carefully to the language he used when the public quizzed him on the matter he actually said as much last Wednesday night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe Boris did refer the plan back to the council for reconsideration, on account of a concerted opposition to the plan from many people, most of whom do not live in the area, and he was worried about loss of votes. The fact remains that the need for redevelopment is as stong as ever. The Cinema is an eyesore and has no future. The Town Hall extension is just revolting. THe flats in Cromwell Avenue and Mansions are worn out. Only a small number of the flats are social housing, most let out at high rents, The tenants who had poor eyesight have been rehoused so the arguement against the redevelopment on grounds of the tenants with poor sight being prejudiced no longer applies. One can argue for ever about the height of the proposed development, however London is a high rise City. Concern about congestion which the supermarket will cause is well justified and is an undesirable component of the development in my opinion. The scheme has to be deliverable and economic or will not happen. Those who oppose it utterly and demand that nothing is done are living in a time warp. Those who oppose it in the present form have a duty to enter into a dialogue with the developers and the Council to arrive at a constructive conclusion about the future and what can be delivered. Remember that five years ago the proposals met with general approval of those who had the opportunity to express their opinions about a redevelopment. Yes, may be the plan now is much higher than the original proposals and it would be better may be to lower it. The arguments about the skyline are barely relevant, when the difference in height is taken into account as viewed from Hammersmith Bridge or south of the River from Barnes. The time is ripe to make a decision and bring the uncertainty to an end. The status quo is not going to happen, some development will take place and if the annexe and cinema go and the flats either go or are brought into the 21st Century, then that will be an improvement.
What is economically deliverable will be pivotable to what happens. I say again, doing nothing is not an option.

Peter French.