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Livingstone orders Harrods back to the drawing board

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London mayor Ken Livingstone has directed Westminster City Council to reverse approval for a plan by top people's store Harrods to redevelop a Knightsbridge site because it did not provide enough affordable housing. In a letter to the council, Livingstone wrote that Harrods' proposal for a development of 44 private flats, offices and shops failed to create a mixed community and was 'prejudicial to good strategic planning in London'.

He wrote that the proposal also failed to meet local housing needs and the strategic housing needs of the capital. Livingstone demanded that affordable housing occupied at least 50 per cent of the development.

Earlier this month a Westminster subcommittee granted planning permission to the Harrods proposal.

The mayor's intervention has outraged Westminster councillors, who stipulated that £800,000 be spent on affordable housing. Chairman of Westminster's planning and licensing committee Councillor Angela Hooper said Livingstone's 50 per cent provision was unrealistic. 'We made sure in this case that permission was linked to a condition that the developer provide, though a commuted payment, affordable housing elsewhere, ' Hooper said.

'This would at least have ensured that a substantial amount of new affordable housing was achieved.As a result of the mayor's actions, this has now been put in jeopardy.'

The council expects Harrods to abandon the proposal and resurrect a pre-approved plan for a hotel on the site now occupied by the Depository and Trevor House. Harrods was deciding on its next course of action as the AJ went to press.

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