JUNE 27 2020 – THE WESTFERRY SCANDAL AND SIR EDWARD LISTER [CHIEF STRATEGIC ADVISER TO BORIS JOHNSON AND FORMER HOMES ENGLAND CHAIRMAN]

Sir Edward Lister

2016 – Tower Hamlets local council objected to the initial plans for 722 homes on the Westferry site because only 20% of the 722 homes would be ‘affordable’.

2016 – Boris Johnson – as Mayor of London – was asked by the developers to replace Tower Hamlets local council in determining the Westferry planning application. Sir Edward Lister – as Deputy Mayor of London [now Boris Johnson’s Chief Strategic Adviser] – then overruled the local council’s objection.

2018 – Developer Richard Desmond then doubled the size of the Westferry development to 1,500 homes.

2020 – Housing Minister Robert Jenrick approved Desmond’s ‘doubling-up’ in January, overruling Tower Hamlets 21% ‘affordable’ housing concerns. Jenrick’s approval was given just one day before a new Community Infrastructure Levy was introduced to support local development. This saved developer Richard Desmond about £45m.

2020 – After a Judicial Review challenge by Tower Hamlets local council in the High Court, Robert Jenrick admitted his decision was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias”, and rejected Richard Desmond’s planning application.

 

Key player in Westferry Printworks development is firm owned by Tory donor

EXCLUSIVE The controversial Westferry Printworks is listed as a development on the website of London and Regional Properties, a firm behind £9billion of building projects owned by Ian Livingstone and brother Richard.

A key player in the controversial Westferry Printworks development can be revealed as an investment firm owned by a super-rich Tory donor and crony of Boris Johnson.

It comes as Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was referred to the MPs’ sleaze watchdog after approving the £1billion project following alleged lobbying from site owner Richard Desmond.

The Mirror can reveal the “development manager” is a company which has donated £200,000 to the Tories.

It is run by Ian Livingstone, who the Prime Minister appointed to the board of his Mayor’s Fund for London.

Mr Johnson approved the original plans for the East London site during his final days as Mayor of the capital.

 

Ian Livingstone (Image: Avalon.red)

He was asked by the developers to replace Tower Hamlets Council in determining the planning application in 2016.

It was made by a company owned by Mr Desmond but the developer was London and Regional Properties, a firm behind £9billion of building projects owned by Mr Livingstone and brother Richard. It is unclear if LRP is still involved, but Westferry Printworks is listed as a development on its website.

The company donated nearly £202,000 to the Tories between 2005 and 2012.

Ian Livingstone joined the board of the Mayor’s Fund for London in 2013 when his wife Natalie left after 13 months.

 

Richard Livingstone (Image: Desmond O’Neill)

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Their charitable trust has from 2015 until recently given £200,000 a year to the fund.

The Livingstone brothers are number 36 on the Sunday Times Rich List with £3.9billion but rarely appear in the media.

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets objected to the initial plans for Westferry with 722 homes because just 20% of them would be affordable.

Mr Johnson’s Deputy Mayor Sir Edward Lister, now his Chief Strategic Advisor, overruled it in 2016.

 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (Image: PA)

Mr Desmond’s company Northern and Shell then doubled the size of the development to 1,500 homes in 2018.

Mr Jenrick approved the revised scheme in January, overruling Tower Hamlets Council’s 21% affordable housing concerns.

It came just a day before a new community infrastructure levy to support local development came in, saving Northern and Shell £45million.

After a legal challenge by the council in the High Court, Mr Jenrick accepted his decision was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias” and quashed it.

 

Richard Desmond (Image: Getty)

It emerged this week he gave Mr Desmond, the former owner of the Daily Express, his phone number at a Tory fundraiser in November.

Mr Desmond also met Mr Johnson at the event but the PM denies discussing the Westferry development.

Mr Desmond texted Mr Jenrick to hurry him up as “we don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing!”

Emails from officials suggest Mr Jenrick pushed for a rapid decision.

 

Westferry Printworks is planned in Tower Hamlets

Mr Desmond gave a personal donation of £12,000 in January, two weeks after Mr Jenrick intervened.

The PM’s spokesman said he followed “due process” and had an “open mind” when he dealt with the 2016 decision.

London and Regional Properties did not respond to a request for comment.