Boris to overrule Boroughs on key Development Corporation proposals

I have managed to view a few nuggets from the mayor’s response to the public consultation on his plans to create a Mayoral Development Corporation from the Olympic Park and surrounding sites.

The main thrust of what the Mayor is saying is, I take on board your concerns but I am pressing on any way. It is an interesting document that reveals many of the key tensions and arguments that are ongoing as Boris seeks to push through his vision at what for him is London’s key regeneration area.

Anyway, here is the story:

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is set to overrule fierce objections from London’s Olympic Boroughs and push through unprecedented plans to cede direct plan-making powers to his proposed Mayoral Development Corporation, CoStar News has learned.

Authorities are understood to be particularly concerned that they will lose vital income from planning fees.

The decision is one of a number of contentious proposals the mayor will endorse this week when he publishes his official response to public consultation on the creation of an Olympic Park Legacy Corporation – his plans to create a Docklands-style Development Corporation out of the Olympics sites and surrounding developments.

Elsewhere, in a document seen by CoStar News, the mayor is set to reject calls for the size and scope of the Corporation – London’s first development corporation – to be expanded to take in other key regeneration sites in the capital and will confirm that proposals to transfer Qatar and Delancey’s Athletes’ Village as well as London & Continental Railways’ substantial Olympics assets under the MDC’s remit have been dropped.

The Government’s Localism Bill, currently before Parliament, includes proposals to allow the mayor to designate mayoral development areas and create mayoral development corporations.  In February of this year the mayor of London published for public consultation proposals to reform the City Hall and central government owned Olympic Park Legacy Company as a mayoral development corporation spanning the Olympic Park and some of the surrounding area. The Mayor will not make any notification to the Secretary of State until the Bill receives Royal Assent, something that will not happen until at least the end of this year.

Of the four affected local authorities – Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – all but one was opposed to the MDC having plan-making powers.

Johnson will overrule the objections. He writes: “The mayor understands the high degree of nervousness in these local authorities about the transfer of plan-making powers. It is a new approach, compared to the existing urban development corporation model where only development control powers are transferred.”

But he argues that “none of the objections to this element of the mayor’s proposals were able to propose an alternative approach” in particular with relation to his desire to take a central role in developing the Community Infrastructure Plan and therefore administering the Community Infrastructure Levy for the area inside its boundary.

The mayor will also say it is yet to decide whether the MDC will be entitled to planning fees rather than the local authority fees, despite calls for clarification from respondents.

Elsewhere, the mayor will reject calls to add a number of other key regeneration areas to the MDC.

The initial proposals included:  the core Olympic Park; the Olympic Village and associated development sites owned by London & Continental Railways; the Stratford City development site; Hackney Wick and Fish Island; Bromley-by-Bow; Pudding Mill Lane and Sugarhouse Lane; Three Mills and Mill Meads; Carpenter Estate.

However, a series of respondents have called for the boundary to be extended to include additional areas: Leyton Mills and the RTZ, Parcelforce and Channelsea sites at and around Abbey Mills and West Ham.

The Mayor argues that “the attention and resources should not be “stretched so thinly as to jeopardise the future of the park and surrounding area which remains his top priority”.

With regards to the assets that will transfer under the MDC’s remit the Mayor will rule that the Athletes’ Village is no longer included following its sale to Qatari Diar/Delancey while London & Continental Railway’s substantial land interests, including the 4m sq ft International Business Quarter site, will also not be included.

“The Mayor has agreed with government that the assets of LCR that lie within the boundary of the MDC will not transfer to the MDC.”

However, the mayor adds that the mayor “may wish to revisit with government the option of transferring LCR assets into the MDC”.


About Paul Norman's Olympics blog

News Editor of CoStar News, a commercial property news service. Regular blogger on the London 2012 Olympics and what it means for property and the the regeneration of East London
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