London Mayor by passes councils and approves thousands of new homes

The Mayor of London has approved plans to build thousands of homes in London after planning authorities either refused or where unable to deal with the applications.

Boris Johnson has given approval for up to 3,500 new homes at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, a site that has been derelict for 14 years, and almost 1,000 homes in Islington on City Road.

Convoys Wharf, a former royal dockyard founded by Henry VIII in 1514, is one of the largest potential sites for much needed new housing in the capital but over the past decade a series of proposals to regenerate the site stalled before they could be considered.

A planning application was submitted to Lewisham Council in May 2013, but the local authority was unable to consider it before the statutory 16 week period to determine planning applications of this nature expired. At the request of developer Hutchison Whampoa, the Mayor chose to take on the role of planning authority in an attempt to bring the plans to fruition.

It is also the site of the historic Sayes Court Garden and the boatyard where the Lenox warship was built. Planning approval has now been given, subject to a Section 106 agreement, which requires City Hall planners to meet with Lewisham and Hutchison Whampoa to come up with a workable, alternative scheme for Sayes Court Garden.
The developer will also build a community hub that will be linked to Sayes Court Garden, with an integrated new primary school included at the heart of the site. There will be shops, restaurants, 525 affordable homes and a new riverside jetty park forming part of an increased area of public space.
‘We need to build thousands of new homes in the capital and proposals to do that at Convoys Wharf have stalled for far too long. I am pleased that we have been able to work on a scheme that will have enormous social and economic benefits for local people while preserving the heritage aspects of the site,’ said Johnson.

The mayor also approved the City Forum development on City Road after officers from Islington Council refused the application. It includes a 42 storey tower block and a 36 storey tower block in an area already designated by Islington Council as suitable for locating a cluster of tall buildings.

The development will have 995 homes, 30% of which will be affordable. There will also be a 190 room hotel, a crèche, retail and office space.
Since taking on the role of planning authority, the Mayor's team has negotiated with Berkeley Homes to ensure that the developer funds all of the affordable housing themselves, with no taxpayer funding which will result in the 144 affordable rented units on the site being provided at target rents to make them even more affordable.
The developer has agreed to build the affordable homes early in the construction process and committed to make substantial progress on the scheme within two years.

The Mayor has called in 11 planning applications since 2009 as he looks to use the full range of his planning powers to speed up the decision making process so that vitally important applications are determined in a timely fashion.