London mayor Boris Johnson has called in contentious 93,000m² plans to redevelop Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant mail centre in Clerkenwell, London
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City Hall announced it would determine the high-profile scheme because it was unlikely Camden and Islington councils would ‘be in a position to determine the two applications in the near future.’
The surprise move follows opposition from local residents concerning the residential-led 2.6 hectare development’s scale and percentage of affordable housing.
Plans for the 680-home scheme by Allies and Morrison, Feilden Clegg Bradley, Wilkinson Eyre and AHMM were submitted for planning last summer around the same time Terry Farrell completed a £32 million overhaul of Royal Mail buildings on the site not earmarked for redevelopment.
Farrell’s masterplanned the residential redevelopment up until summer 2012.
The Greater London Authority will now take on the role of planning authority for the scheme which alongside housing includes shops, offices, restaurants and public space. A mayoral decision is expected in the summer.
Commenting on the call-in, Johnson said: ‘London is growing at an unprecedented rate and it is absolutely vital that we get on with the important work of building thousands of new homes as quickly as we can.
‘By taking over this application it should be possible to speed up the decision making process. My team will be working closely with the local authorities and Royal Mail without further delay.’
Royal Mail spokeswoman Sally Hopkins said: ‘Royal Mail welcomes the Mayor of London’s decision to take over the existing planning applications to the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington for the proposed development of part of our Mount Pleasant site.
‘We remain committed to transforming our Mount Pleasant site and contributing to the regeneration of this inner city area. We look forward to working with the GLA, the local authorities, local stakeholders and community representatives to achieve this.’
Campaigner Edward Denison of the Mount Pleasant Forum was however critical of the decision. He said: ‘It is widely believed [the] call-in signals that approval for the scheme will be granted. It is also widely believed that if the applications had been left to our local representatives in Camden and Islington councils to decide, they would have been rejected.’
He continued: ‘If the Mayor approves the applications, having bypassed the local planning authorities, such an intervention would be virtually unprecedented. This is despite [Royal Mail’s] reduction of affordable housing from 20 per cent to 12 per cent clearly contravening the Boris Johnson’s 2020 “ambition” of embarking on “the biggest home-building drive for a generation providing homes that Londoners can afford.”’
In October the London Mayor called-in plans by Terry Farrell for the controversial overhaul of the historic Convoy’s Wharf in Deptford, south east London. Local authority Lewisham Council has petitioned Johnson to reject the application which is set to be decided next month.