Royal Mail Group, a newly privatised company, asked the Mayor to step in over the future of London’s largest building site – in Farringdon Road.
The 1 million square feet residential-led scheme has met opposition from the London Boroughs of Islington and Camden, whose territory the site is located on.
According to the plans, 683 homes along with shops, offices, restaurants and public spaces are to be built on half of the firm’s site in Farringdon. The scheme designed by Sir Terry Farrell is expected to transform the area surrounding Farringdon Road and Phoenix Place.
Opponents of the project, who claim that the project will provide only 12 per cent of affordable housing, were outraged by the Mayor’s decision. Islington Council leader, Cllr Richard Watts, called the Mayor’s move “premature and unjustified”.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “London is growing at an unprecedented rate and it is vital that we get on with the important work of building thousands of new homes as quickly as we can,” he said.
“By taking over this application it should be possible to speed up the decision making process.
“My team will be working closely with the local authorities and Royal Mail without further delay.”
The Mount Pleasant Forum, a group that represents the communities living close to the site, produced a two-minute video with a pleading message for the Mayor not to call the decision in.
According to the forum, the site is surrounded by five conservation areas and established communities, which implies that the Royal Mail’s plans for high-rise housing would be a “disaster”.
Royal Mail made an appeal under Article 7 of the Town & Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order 2008, which states that the Mayor can step in on developments that “have a significant impact on the implementation of the spatial development strategy”.
A company spokesman commented: “The redevelopment will help regenerate the local neighbourhoods, creating new public spaces and offering up to 680 new homes, including affordable housing.
“It will also provide 1,250 new jobs in the wider economy if it gets the go-ahead.”