London is being transformed from capital city to city-state of the nomadic international rich. This development (outlined in Workers, October 2013) is further compounded by the proposal to erect yet another tallest building so far in London, Hertsmere Tower at Canary Wharf. It is promoted by Irish entrepreneur Tom Ryan, investing income from the failed “tiger” economy of Ireland, into what is seen as the stable economy of Osborne and Cameron: a £1 billion, 74-storey apartment block, whose 74 floors equate to 714 apartments, priced between £1 million and £10 million.
Canary Wharf, London
Somewhere in the equation certain of these properties are deemed “affordable” for local residents – the term “socially affordable”, still less “council property” is no longer to be found in the planning language of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
Local council planning policy is supposed to require half of all new homes being built to be “socially affordable”. But it has been overruled under the mayor’s enhanced planning powers. Tower Hamlets Council, which initially turned down the application, will instead gain another skyline expression of the predominantly foreign-based, rich buyers and investors flaunting their wealth. Yet it has over 23,000 people on its housing waiting list (a number set to rise with unlimited migration from the EU).
The investor, following on the £100 million purchase price, is expected to spend £800 million on development. A further £1 million is supposedly towards affordable housing, £4 million towards the Crossrail rail link and £2 million towards local community projects. More like a £7 million bribe to divert attention from the colossal returns the investor will reap.
If one more skyscraper isn’t enough, then Chinese investor Wanda, allegedly worth £5.5 billion, intends building two slightly smaller towers – 660 and 530 feet – in Wandsworth, south London, close to the planned new Chinese embassy. All of this to attract the super-rich of China as they relocate abroad.
The future dwellers in the 714 apartments will probably not be concerned at the estimated 63,000 children in London deemed as homeless, living in slum, unhealthy and chronically overcrowded conditions on a par with Victorian Britain. Shelter, the housing charity, has estimated 80,000 children in the country live like this, over 75 per cent of them in London. ■