New revelations have been published regarding corruption surrounding the decision to overrule council planning officers and the Mayor. Robert Jenrick, the government Housing Secretary overruled the rejection of planning permission for a huge development in Isle of Dogs on the old Westferry Printworks site.
Robert Jenrick stood by the claim that while he was sat at the same table as Tory donor and owner of the proposed development, Richard Desmond, they never discussed anything to do with the development and planning application that was sent to Tower Hamlets Council.
However Richard Desmond recently admitted to the Sunday Times that he actually showed the Housing Secretary a clip of the promotional video for the site being touted as a “new urban oasis”.
This flies in the face of his denials and raises further concern and suspicion of not only the Secretary pushing through the development against the decision of council officers, but also the fact is was pushed through 24 hours before the new CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) came into force.
The CIL is a new type of charge being brought in by the council on most types of new developments over a certain size.
This cash would be used to help pay for local infrastructure such as new schools, GP surgeries, play areas etc. to help support an increase in people/residents to the area. So the potential loss to the council and its residents due to the Secretary forcing the decision through is thought to be around £40-50 million.
To add further to this as reported in several news outlets, developers were in agreement with the council’s request of offering up 35% of their developments at affordable housing rates however, Richard Desmond decided to retract this offer and reduce it to only 21%.
This added a further loss to the borough estimated to be around £40 million worth of value and again,the Housing Secretary overlooked this to give approval.
In May of this year and after much pressure including a judicial review, Robert Jenrick decided to reverse his decision on the grounds that there was ‘apparent bias’ in it and went onto to say that he will no longer be involved any further in the future decision process.
What this reversal meant was that all documents pertaining to his original decision is now no longer required to be made public, which has left a very bad taste and an air of suspicion to all those involved in this saga of what is in those documents and do they add further proof of wrongdoing from a government minister?