Westferry Printworks Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 2:23 pm, 24th June 2020

Let me start by drawing the attention of the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

My purpose in speaking in this debate is because, like the Secretary of State, I share the view that the important thing here is the integrity of the planning system, and that context is all important for any planning application, since an application is decided on the basis of its own merits. I want to start by looking at the behaviour of Tower Hamlets Council.

In 2016, the original application was referred to the Mayor’s office because Tower Hamlets Council had not determined it within the time set out. In 2018, the revised scheme was referred on that same grounds—that Tower Hamlets had not determined the application in time. We can all have sympathy with councils when they are faced with massive and complex developments. In this case, however, we are told that having been forced, somewhat late in the day, to make a decision, it decided it would have refused it. Why could it not have done so earlier? That does not show the planning system in a good light and it does not show Tower Hamlets in a good light either.