Wednesday, July 09, 2003


So we're about to get another glass and steel phallus buggering the skyline of London, the Guardian tells us today. Nothing unusual there except that this one is causing a stink because its parked right outside the front door of our beloved Tate Modern. Shock horror how could this happen to one of the most historically important and culturally sensitive parts of London.

Our self-styled man of the people Mayor, Ken Livingstone can't wait to get the thing up and says it's all a matter of "a person's aesthetic values". He thinks it'll balance things up and make a bit more of a lovely concrete cluster. Bollocks Ken, its not about aesthetics its about money, or rather to be polite, Planning Gain.

When a site is granted planning permission it automatically gains value and a slice of that increased value can be paid to the local authority as a kind of compensation. This is called Planning Gain.

When Old Spitalfields Market was given permission to be redeveloped Tower Hamlets pocketed over 20 million quid in planning gains in the form of 118 social houses, specialist community training and other titbits. Ken was keen for that one too.

When I was sniffing around the Spitalfields development one interested party told me that Mayor Red Ken couldn't green light the big developments quick enough because he needed those planning gains effectively to pay for his manifesto pledges which he doesn't actually have any money of his own to pay for.

Come election time next year Ken and his staff on executive salaries will be busily counting up all the housing for key workers, training programmes, play schemes etc paid for by the likes of Balfour Beaty and co. and trumpeting those figures as evidence of his success.

It's time Ken was put on the spot and made to come clean about how he has effectively sold off large chunks of London to property developers in order to help himself get re-elected. And I wouldn't mind knowing who exactly these "affordable homes" that are part of the bankside development are affordable for? Certainly not the likes of me nor most people I know.
Make a handy pied-a-terre for City Hall though.


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