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Sale of Mount Pleasant site ‘a crying shame’

Blow for affordable homes as Royal Mail sells six acres of land to developers for £193.5million

01 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

An artist’s impression of the scheme planners approved

ROYAL Mail has sold the former Mount Pleasant sorting office site to developers in a move dubbed a “crying shame” by the Town Hall. The privately owned Royal Mail sold six acres of land in Clerkenwell to developers Taylor Wimpey for £193.5million in a deal announced on Wednesday.

“It’s a massive missed opportunity to help deliver more genuinely affordable homes for Londoners,” said housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward. “Islington Council’s plans would have achieved 290 genuinely affordable houses and 170 would have been for social rent.

“It’s a crying shame. We are in the middle of a housing crisis with young families having to leave the area and young people wanting to leave home,” he added.

The go-ahead to redevelop the site into mostly-luxury flats was given by the former mayor Boris Johnson three years ago who overrode objections from both Islington and Camden councils.

Town Hall chief Cllr Richard Watts attacked Boris Johnson on social media last night (Thursday) labelling the land sale a “genuine scandal”.

Cllr Watts wrote on twitter: “Land is only so valuable because Boris Johnson awarded a ludicrous planning permission with almost no affordable housing.

“This was allowed because he claimed it wasn’t ‘viable’ to provide more affordable housing on site. Yet site is old for a massive profit. Actually what Boris Johnson did was allow Royal Mail to be privatised with a golden nest egg.

“Loser are the thousands of Islington residents who need affordable housing and now won’t get it on this site. So whenever the Tories ever claim to care about solving the housing crisis just remember this.”

A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey said: “The development represents a compelling multi-year development opportunity in a high-quality location.

“The acquisition meets all the Group’s key investment criteria, including an attractive return on capital given the phasing of capital deployment.”

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