Saturday, 13 October 2012

H&F to buy Market to give to developers

Boutique Bush: No more historic shops on Goldhawk Road
Fresh from their approach to planning having been ruled open to question by a High Court Judge, the Cabinet of our Council will on Monday rubber stamp a compulsory purchase order which enables them to take ownership, against the wishes of the shopowners, of the Goldhawk Row of shops, in order to knock them down.

This of course follows their approach to this scheme having been ruled unlawful too. But this Council don't seem to get too hung up on annoying little details like that.

So no surprises here, it's another scheme that enables developers to make a ton of cash, but turfs out people who have become as much of the fabric of Shepherd's Bush as the textiles some of them sell in their shops.

But what might raise an eyebrow here, is that Orion the developers are only providing an indemnity of £10 million. Considering that the purchase order is for the entire site set for redevelopment - the shops and the entire market area - this seems very unlikely to cover the whole cost. What this means is that if the development goes belly up the public purse will be exposed to a whacking great loss.

You might think that's quite a risky way for a public authority to do business. And you'd be right. What was also risky was sending the uncensored Cabinet papers, marked "not for publication" and detailing the amounts of money involved by email, because it's ended up being forwarded to me. And I publish it here in the spirit of public service and transparency, despite it being marked "exempt" from Freedom of Information Act disclosure. Oh well.

This is not a set of papers that would be provided to opposition councillors or the general public, because our Council took action some months ago to enable themselves to censor what they deem to be "sensitive" information. So they'll be particularly pleased to see the report online here. All in the spirit of public service.

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