CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Revise plans for The Great Mount Pleasant Rip-Off

08 September, 2017

• THE news that the now privatised Royal Mail has sold the Mount Pleasant site to a private developer for £193 million, a mere 565 per cent higher than the value Royal Mail gave the site at the time the Tory-led government sold-off the 497-year-old public institution, is the latest chapter in a genuine scandal.

It’s also a story that typifies why so many people feel let down by Tory-facilitated, crony capitalism. Mount Pleasant could and should deliver hundreds of genuinely affordable homes for people on low and modest incomes.

During the saga that saw Royal Mail’s planning application rejected by Islington and Camden councils, only for it to be “called-in” and rubber-stamped by the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Islington fought to ensure that this development actually helped local people who need new homes they can afford.

Islington has among the toughest set of planning policies in the country. Our independent analysis showed that a commercially viable development could be built with 42 per cent of the new homes created being genuinely affordable. Thanks to Boris’s decision, 75 per cent less affordable housing will now be built.

This scandal really matters because ordinary people have been ripped off twice by this move. Local people in need of new homes won’t get them, and taxpayers have seen a public institution sold off at a massively undervalued price to the benefit of corporate investors.

If you ever want to understand who the public are so angry with a country that seems rigged against them and are turning to the Labour Party for real change, it’s because of sorry stories like this.

I am now calling for the developer to do the right thing and revise its plans and deliver more genuinely affordable homes for local people on the site.

I am also writing to the government to demand a windfall tax on the Royal Mail to recover the losses the taxpayer has suffered by the massive undervaluing of sites like Mount Pleasant.

Islington deserves better than this shoddy deal. Anything less will mean this episode will forever be known as The Great Mount Pleasant Rip-Off.

CLLR RICHARD WATTS
Labour leader
Islington Council

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