JUNE 28 2020 – “HOW MANY OTHER DEVELOPMENTS HAS JENRICK INTERFERED WITH?” – ‘JENRICK STAMPING ALL OVER OUR TOWNS’ – SUNDAY TIMES LETTER

‘Jenrick stamping all over our towns’ – Sunday Times – Letter 28/06/2020

“Robert Jenrick (News, last week) is not a popular person in this part of the world. The planning minister overruled South Oxfordshire district council in its opposition to a massive developmen of more than 3,000 homes, near the sleepy village of Culham.

“The nearby towns of Didcot and Abingdon will be choked. The area does need social housing , but there will be little in this scheme.

“How many other developments has Jenrick interfered with ?”

Jenny Mahony, Abingdon

 

“KILL DONOR’S £1BN DEAL, OFFICIALS BEGGED MINISTER” – SUNDAY TIMES FRONT PAGE – JUNE 26 2020 + “‘IT’S MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY’ – JENRICK BULLDOZED CIVIL SERVANTS OVER DESMOND DEAL” – PAGES 4 & 5

Front Page

“According to the source, civil servants warned Jenrick that the [Westferry] development violated planning rules and was ‘70% to 80%’ likely to be judicially reviewed…

“The source’s claim he showed ‘total disregard’ for the law in the run-up to the decision…

“Labour urged the government to halt its plans to move house-building powers from local councils to the housing secretary

Pages 4 & 5

“The source, who has come forward to detail the minister’s ‘disregard for due process and accountability’, said that officials were left in no doubt that their views were not welcome…

“It is a decision that both reflects Boris Johnson’s authority, given his majority of 80, and his disdain for the vicissitudes of life in the Westminster bubble, having ridden out many scandals himself. It also shows the minister’s proximity to No. 10 and his circle of friendships in the upper echelons of the Johnson government…

“Others believe that Johnsonmay be protecting Jenrick because of his own links to Westferry. As mayor of London, he gave an earlier, less ambitious version of the Westferry plan his approvalin 2016. Sir Edward Lister, now the prime minister’s chief strategic adviser and then deputy mayor for planning [and Homes England chairman – Ed] was the person behind the decision, and is said to retain a keen interest in planning…

“It was reported last week [Daily Telegraph] that the prime minister had excised an announcement on key planning reforms from an upcoming speech on rebuilding Britain after Covid-19, with the express aim of sparing Jenrick further scrutiny.

“The move, if it goes ahead, would give Jenrick greater power to decide on planning applications by creating a new system of development corporations.

“Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has not yet called for Jenrick to be sacked and would instead prefer for the scandal to go on as long as possible, leading to more scrutiny, revelations and damaging headlines. In the meantime, Steve Reed, the shadow communities secretary, has referred Jenrick to the parliamentary commissioner for standards…

“They [civil servants] claimed Jenrick had ignored or rejected advice on other occasions and expressed little appreciation of his quasi-judicial role as housing secretary – that is, someone who must make decisions based on planning law, rather than politics. Any hint of bias can derail a project, which is why planning decisions are usually announced in sober and legalistic letters. But Jenrick is said to have overruled officials and demanded politically-charged announcements on controversial plans…”

[to be continued]