In July 2018, Barnet Council refused the planning application for Pentavia Park Retail site. Subsequently, the Mayor of London called in this decision and overruled Barnet Council, giving approval to the plans with an increased number of affordable housing units.
Like many local people, I was appalled by the Mayor’s decision which was contrary to his own plan and policies as well as those of the London Borough of Barnet. I therefore wrote formally to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking him to review the planning application and the Mayor’s use of his powers.
The Government’s call-in policy makes clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Secretary of State therefore responded by contacting the Mayor and his officials in order to help determine whether he was able to call in the planning application. Regrettably, having had regard to the policy on calling in applications, the Secretary of State has decided that he is not able to call in this application.
This is very disappointing but the Government believes planning decisions should be made by local councils and communities wherever possible. I feel strongly that the London Mayor should not be interfering in this matter and is cynically using his call-in power for political ends. His predecessor – Boris Johnson – refused to interfere with local decisions on numerous occasions and the current Mayor should do the same.
This Mayor was elected on a promise to deliver a certain number of new homes and he has spectacularly failed to do this. It now seems he is prepared to accept any housing project which will allow him to say he has delivered on his pledge at this year’s Greater London Authority Elections. This is despite the fact that in this case the development will go against his own London Plan and will not meet his air quality criteria. In overruling the London Borough of Barnet, the Mayor will be complicit in condemning the residents of this development to living conditions that should not be acceptable in the twenty-first century.
London needs a Mayor who respects the views of local people and Barnet needs a London Assembly Member who will stand up for local decisions. At the moment we have neither – but there is an opportunity to change that in the London elections to be held in May.