Friday, 29 January 2010

GLA to withhold Bishops Place information

Last week OPEN was told that the Secretary of State's reasons for allowing the Bishops Place development were confidential and that the balance of the public interest favours non-disclosure".

Now, Boris's Greater London Authority tells us it is following that lead.

OPEN has been told by the GLA that information leading to it approving the Bishops Place scheme is "commercially confidential" and " may need to be withheld...".

The confidential information is, we believe, the 'financial viability assessment', which the developer Hammerson gave the GLA on condition it would never be publically revealed, and which sought to justify an £11 million deduction in its contribution to off-site affordable housing.

And, because it takes a long time time to remove all that information from the documents, " will be necessary to extend the time limit to respond" the GLA says.

Our request was sent on 22 December and the time limit for providing the information would normally be 11 January (20 days). But the GLA says the limited information which they will allow us to see may now not be provided before 1 March - just 4 days before the time limit expires to challange the GLA's decision to approve the Bishops Place scheme. How convenient. For the GLA. And for Hackney. And for the developer Hammerson.

What are the secrets of the Bishops Place planning decisions? There was certainly a lot of money involved - a £500 million private scheme, on a site mainly owned by Hackney Council, which was also the authority which granted planning permission, after the resignation of Hackney's former Head of Planning and after the developer had first vetted the Council report which went to the Planning Committee. Plus the promise of a £3.1 million payment for the GLA towards Crossrail into the bargain.

After a long battle against the local residential and business community, after an historic building was saved, after family homes and £11 million for affordable housing in Dalston had been lost, now darkness decends as the reasons for the authorities' approvals are removed from the public's view.

If Hammerson can raise the money to start building the 52-storey Bishops Place, before its planning permission lapses in 5 years, then Mammon will have secured its first major foothold in Shoreditch. It's attention will now move on to the other development sites locally which it, and the City Corporation, have spent years assembling.

Click on image to enlarge it

1 comment:


    Another one to add to the collection


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