Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Council, Developers & a football match

Orion, the property developer behind the hugely controversial Shepherd's Bush Market scheme, is run by a man called Richard Olsen. Part of the deal with knocking down the Market and rebuilding it - is that the Market will be rebuilt largely underneath seven floors of new housing.

Andrew Johnson, is the Cabinet Member for housing for Hammersmith & Fulham.

Both were seen at the recent Fulham v Sunderland football match on the weekend, and one or two of you have been in touch to point this out. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with people getting to know each other and socialising, but it does raise questions about just how close those relations are in the context of this development. 

Particularly when the council itself is so keen to ram this development through, in the face of opposition from both market traders and shop owners who face losing their shops, and even a High Court ruling which established that a significant part of their approach to this development had been illegal. In fact so keen are the council to help Orion out, that they are taking on a rather large financial risk on their behalf, by only asking Orion for an indemnity of £10 million on a site that is clearly worth much more than that. 

And you only know that because I published the "not for publication" council papers from the Cabinet meeting that Andrew Johnson attended. 

I asked Cllr Johnson to confirm whether he had been at the match with Mr Olsen, which he confirmed he had, before adding last night: 
"Personally I don't see that it raises any questions about the appropriateness of relations between the council and developers. Richard Olsen did not pay for my ticket, nor for that matter did the taxpayer. He was at the Fulham game, as was I, and as was the MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter". 
"I am not the councillor responsible for the Shepherd's Bush Market scheme, as I cover housing not regeneration and, apart from being a member of the Cabinet I am not involved in the specifics of the Market scheme". 
"That said I do believe that Shepherds Bush Market is in desperate need of improvements and the scheme which now has outline planning consent will bring significant benefits to Shepherd's Bush and the wider area". 

0900 UPDATE - One of the shopkeepers set to lose their freehold has just emailed me to say that their court case against this scheme is due for January 17th. They are confident of their case. They won their last one, after all. 

No comments:

Post a comment