The director of renters’ campaign group Generation Rent says the long-running scandal of a planning decision made by the Housing Secretary and now declared illegal “stinks so much.”
Dan Wilson Craw made the comments on Twitter over the weekend as the latest revelations in the scandal were revealed by the Daily Mail.
The essence of the story is that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and former newspaper magnate Richard Desmond sat on the same table at a Tory fundraising dinner in November last year; some eight weeks later, Jenrick approved a plan put forward by Desmond to build 1,524 homes on an east London site, Westferry Printworks - despite the independent Planning Inspectorate recommending that the application be rejected.
Shortly afterwards, Desmond made a financial contribution to the Conservative Party.
Last month Jenrick admitted acting unlawfully in the decision, following legal action initiated by the local Tower Hamlets council.
Jenrick’s January decision was made just one day before the council adopted planning rule changes which would have meant that Desmond would have had to pay between £30m and £50m more to the council.
But now the Daily Mail has calculated that Jenrick’s illegal decision was even more lucrative for Desmond.
The newspaper contends that documents have now revealed that a last-minute change to the planning proposal - just before it won Jenrick’s support - reduced the volume of affordable housing in the scheme to below that level which was routinely demanded by the Tower Hamlets council.
The newspaper calculates that this meant Jenrick’s approval - before it was declared illegal - effectively bagged the developer an extra saving of £106m.
Jenrick has denied any wrongdoing throughout the saga, which has now been going on for some weeks.
Over the weekend, Generation Rent’s Dan Wilson Craw tweeted: “This stinks so much. Tower Hamlets has some of the most overcrowded homes in the country. It needs all the affordable homes it can get.”