Release of Prince Charles' planning letters blocked
Correspondence between the office of the Prince of Wales and London mayor Boris Johnson about planning issues in the capital is being kept secret, according to national newspaper reports
The Guardian had asked City Hall to release correspondence between the prince and his aides, and elected representatives and officials at the Greater London Authority (GLA) about planning matters in the capital since Johnson became mayor, and specifically letters relating to the plans for the rebuilding of Chelsea Barracks and tall buildings.
But in a letter to the publication, information governance manager Albert Chan replied that Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s private secretary, had written to Johnson but the prince had not consented to disclosure of the letter and, although the request came under environmental information regulations, it would not be released.
‘Disclosure of this information would adversely affect the Prince of Wales because, as heir to the throne, the sensitivity of his communications with public authorities are unlikely to diminish with time due to the fact that once he is the sovereign he will remain in office for life,” City Hall said.
‘Disclosure therefore could appear to undermine his political neutrality. Furthermore release of this information would impinge upon The Prince of Wales’ privacy.’
On Monday it emerged that several of the prince’s charities have been lobbying government ministers to change policy on issues ranging from VAT to regional development policy.
Commenting on the GLA’s refusal to release the correspondence chair of the London Assembly Planning and Housing Committee Jenny Jones, said: ‘Since 2002 the assembly has been pressing successive mayors to be open and transparent about the exercise of their planning powers in the capital.
‘This is necessary to ensure all Londoners can have confidence that undue influence is not brought to bear on the mayor’s planning strategy or individual planning applications. If Prince Charles wants to be involved in public policy decisions then he should agree to his letters being made public.’