CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

It’s time to challenge the developers

01 November, 2018

Some of the properties in Haverstock Hill that will be replaced with flats

• WITH conference applause still ringing in our ears for the government lifting the council house borrowing cap, enabling more affordable housing to be built, comes another tale of private developer greed.

According to government planning policy, a development scheme must generate 20 per cent profit to be viable. Using this handy tool, PPL Haverstock Hill, a private developer, claims that they cannot afford to pay the £2,272,905, calculated by Camden Council, in lieu of no affordable housing on site, (Affordable homes ruling ‘dispiriting’, October 25).

Most businesses would be delighted with a steady 10 to 12 per cent profit margin, so why are developers different? No one’s twisting their arm to build, they can just walk away if they don’t like what’s on the table.

Cllr Anna Wright (We need to find ways to enable the council to build more homes, October 25) states that the planning committee had no choice but to support PPL Haverstock Hill’s application, as the developer would have appealed a rejection and the council could not afford the legal fees to defend their decision.

The committee’s predicament is just plain wrong, on so many levels. It makes a mockery of having a democratically elected council and makes the presence of a planning committee mere pretence. Sympathy does go out to a planning committee feeling powerless in the face of a cash-rich private developer, who holds all the cards. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

This ludicrous piece of legislation has to be changed, or we’ll never get on top of the lack of affordable housing in the borough. The council should have refused planning permission. Let the developer appeal and defend the rejection using the council in-house legal staff and any pro bono help going. What is there to lose?

We see “bling” properties springing up, only to stand empty for ever. On the rest of the available land, hundreds are sleeping rough, probably also for ever. Someone has got to start pushing back on the developers and this government. That time is now!

KIRSTEN DE KEYSER
Green Party PPC, Holborn & St Pancras

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