The skies of London were disrupted earlier today by the clouds parting to reveal a super-massive violin appearing over St Paul’s Cathedral.
The reason for this demi-miracle was a sympathy serenade for squillionaire property developer Christian Candy who has lambasted planning chiefs in the City.
Their crime? Demanding £15m worth of affordable housing as a section 106 payment on its 165-home Sugar Quay, EC3, scheme.
The developers are offering half this – despite the very real likelihood that current viability assessments which set out the value of the project are likely to be hugely undervalued by the time the scheme is eventually built.
It was the Candy’s notoriously sharp business sense that drove through One Hyde Park during the pits of the worst recession ever, by working out that rich punters wanted a service-driven posh pad with super-posh disheveled furniture. Who wouldn’t want to pay £30m to live in a branch of All Saints overlooking Hyde Park?
A lack of affordable housing coming through has been a stick continually used to beat Boris Johnson over the head with in London Assembly debates, so he’ll be keen, as are most sensible people, for Londoners to get their fair share from exorbitant prime housing gains.
The refusal of developers to play ball, pay fair and argue the toss in such a publicly way ultimately besmirches the entire industry. And less than a year away from an election, with further austerity cuts to come, maybe it doesn’t want to do that.