A CONVENIENT LEAK from the Rev Rees’s planning department of the viability assessment for the small Chocolate Factory development of 135 flats at Greenbank just days before a planning committee meeting yesterday was enough to get the plans temporarily KNOCKED BACK by grandstanding councillors.
The leaked confidential document, the direct responsibility of council planning bosses, revealed that the developers, The Generator Group, might be able to afford more than the FIVE per cent or SIX units of affordable housing that they finally offered at the site.
This was AGGRESSIVELY seized upon by Labour councillors at the planning committee meeting, who followed the Rev’s lead in the morning’s media and loudly demanded – in front of the gathered press – that the developers meet the Rev Rees’s target of 40 per cent affordable housing, which would be around 50 flats.
This fighting talk over affordable housing at Greenbank contrasted with a relative silence by Labour politicians over affordable housing at one of the Rev Rees’s pet projects, a horrendous 82 metre high concrete cash cow TOWER BLOCK for Redcliffe discussed at the same meeting.
Despite the lack of affordable homes – only 12 per cent or around 32 units against a requirement of 40 per cent or 110 units – the application for this development was WAVED THROUGH. One Labour councillor on the planning committee even said, “while there aren’t enough affordable homes, at least the developers tried”.
So that’s OK then. Although surely FURTHER PRESSURE applied on the developer, Redcliff MCC LLP – a limited liability partnership front for a complex web of companies centring around Christopher Mitchell Solicitors Ltd in Westbury-on-Trym – might have yielded considerably more units of affordable housing than are available at Greenbank? Especially as a tower block on a prime city centre location should be highly ‘viable’?
Of course any claim that the Chocolate Factory planning episode was a CAREFULLY STAGED public relations exercise is ridiculous. Presenting the Rev Rees and his Labour councillors as champions of the people fighting for affordable housing while a favoured and extremely lucrative city centre development fails to get anywhere near those same affordable housing targets without any criticism from Labour’s affordable housing champions is NO CONTRADICTION whatsoever.
Although we do have to wonder why, according to our sources in the planning department, not even a cursory effort is being made to discover how a CONFIDENTIAL planning document got so helpfully leaked ahead of a meeting.
Perhaps such an investigation might prove embarrassing to the Rev Rees and his Labour Party?