If you stand up to any kind of development, you had better be prepared for the "N" word to be flung in your direction sooner or later. Its usually the developers who complain, but it was Common Councillman Mark Boleat, who sits on the planning committee, who did the honours this time. He would like to "reign in" selfish middle-class Nimbys.
But its a strange kind of Nimby that wants more social housing and development built on a site than the developers propose; in fact it has been christened the Yimby movement. GLERA has brought forward alternative plans for the former Richard Cloudesley School site that skip the single-staircase residential tower and propose a low-rise developement instead. The interesting part is that this approach, which follows the general layout of the Golden Lane Estate and doesn't seem to break every planning policy known to man actually allows 15% more social housing on the site. The build cost is dramatically reduced by not building high rise. Who knew?
It is achieved by integrating the school and the housing. This pattern was followed at the successful Kings Cross Academy and is probably the future for schools in London.
Anyway we think its really strange to be elected as a common councilman and then tell local residents that they shouldn't have a voice in the planning process. Here is the full text of our open letter to Sir Mark:
"Sir Mark Boleat has a vision for housing in London. It just doesn’t happen to involve anyone who actually lives here. (London’s housing crisis can be solved by reining in middle-class nimbys, Evening Standard, 18th October). He would like to see local communities and their councillors excised completely from the planning process. As chair of one of those pesky City of London residents’ groups he scorns in his remarks, I have seen the future he envisages for London close up.
His team plans to extend our Estate with a social housing scheme two and a half times the maximum density and three times the height that planning policy permits, with no outdoor space, no playground and a tower block with a Grenfell-style single escape staircase. As local residents we stand up for getting decent, good quality social housing on the site, not repeating the disastrous mistakes of the 1960’s.
Of course these new social housing voters will be strategically placed in Islington, just a few feet outside the City boundary. After all, Sir Mark’s policy is for housing, yes, just not in his backyard.
It was local “nimbys” who campaigned against the absence of affordable housing at The Denizen, Taylor Wimpey’s overbearing development. In the end their in-lieu payment provided 14 affordable homes. If planning guidelines had been followed then TW would have been supplying 66 affordable homes off site.
Weakening planning rules creates opportunities for developers and house builders. Sir Mark’s networking/lobby group, the loftily titled “Housing and Finance Institute” brings them together with financiers and local authorities, as they put it “building relationships between capable councils, businesses and investors who want to do more”.
If Sir Mark has so little time for the role of local Councillors in standing up to development plans that bulldoze planning policies and communities then perhaps it is time he resigned from the City of London planning committee and focussed on those important housing industry partnerships instead."
Charles Humphries, Golden Lane Estate Residents Association