This week we learned that Boris Johnson has failed to intervene in a bid by Hammersmith and Fulham council to scrap all the proposed rented social housing units from a key development in Shepherd’s Bush.
I am stunned at this volte-face on the part of the Mayor in failing to insist that Hammersmith and Fulham ensure that a reasonable proportion of affordable homes are available in the development at Bloemfontein Road. By not intervening in the process the Mayor has effectively removed all the social housing units originally planned for this development – around 40%. It is directly contrary to Boris’ own words at the July Mayor’s Question Time meeting where he said that he would ‘certainly’ use his Mayoral powers to direct refusal of a development if he felt the application was ‘not achieving targets that would be for the benefit of London.’
This looks like a political decision on the part of Hammersmith and Fulham council – led by Councillor Stephen Greenhalgh, who sat on Boris’ Forensic Audit Panel. If this is going to be the Mayor’s future approach to such matters then I am extremely concerned about the precedent this could set for other key housing developments. Questions certainly need to be asked about the Mayor’s views on the value of social rented housing and whether he understands that for the poorest Londoners, shared ownership is still not an affordable option – we need to know what he is going to do to help this group.
It’s another example of the Mayor saying one thing and doing another. Despite his waxing lyrical at Mayor’s Queston Time on the need to protect London’s playing fields and open spaces, he didn’t stop his chums at Kensington and Chelsea selling off part of Holland Park School’s playing fields for development. If this is a sign of things to come I’m very worried.