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Boroughs take legal action against mayor of London

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A lack of affordable homes in plans approved by the mayor of London Boris Johnson (Con) has led two borough councils to apply for a judicial review of the decision.

Mr Johnson granted planning permission for 681 homes on the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant site in October last year, despite objections.

He had previously called the decision in over concerns Camden and Islington LBCs, which both straddle the site, were not moving fast enough to determine the plot’s future.

In a joint statement issued today the borough councils said evidence showed at least 42% affordable housing would be possible on the site, with the majority of the homes being made available at social rent prices. However, the councils said the mayor approved an application with only 24% affordable housing and added the scheme meant ‘affordable rents’ could be two or three times the level of social rent.

The councils said they did not believe Mr Johnson fulfilled “the requirements of policy and fair process when he assessed the scheme’s viability”.

James Murray (Lab), Islington’s executive member for housing and development, said: “We believe [Mr Johnson’s] decision was not just wrong but also legally flawed, and so we have issued a judicial challenge of his decision to grant planning permission.”

Camden’s cabinet member for regeneration, transport and planning Phil Jones (Lab) said: “Boris Johnson’s intervention has completely ignored the needs of Camden people and goes against the usual democratic process where councils decide planning applications in their own area.”

Cllr Jones added: “He has handed the landowner a huge windfall in reducing the number of affordable homes the development should deliver – and we think he has acted unlawfully.”

A spokesman for the mayor of London said: “By taking responsibility for the Mount Pleasant planning application the mayor was able to resolve a scheme that had spent several months jammed in the planning process, and approve plans that will lead to the construction of almost 700 new homes. The mayor’s team is confident that his decision will be upheld.”

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