The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities | Cities | The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/sep/17/truth-property-developers-builders-exploit-planning-cities

Wednesday 17 September 2014

@ollywainwright

Oliver Wainwright

Affordable housing quotas get waived and the interests of residents trampled as toothless authorities bow to the dazzling wealth of investors from Russia, China and the Middle East

The new wave of international developers buying up swathes of London includes Malaysian consortium SP Setia, who acquired Battersea power station.

“I always said you should never trust a bank with property, or a property developer with money,” says Peter Rees. The former chief planner of the City of London should know about such things, having presided over the results of both. Over the last 30 years, he has ushered in a menagerie of their monuments, from the Gherkin and Cheesegrater to the Walkie-Talkie and Heron Tower, during which time he has seen a significant shift in the balance of power. “When I arrived in the job in the 1980s, the big banks were in control of London,” he says. “But now it’s the big house-builders. We’ve gone from being ruled by Barclay’s bank to being controlled by Berkeley homes.”

Left unchecked, the banks went off the rails in spectacular fashion, as they sprayed money into the great mortgage mirage. And now property developers have been allowed to follow suit. Fuelled by the dazzling wealth of investors from Russia, China and the Middle East, who they turned to when the banks stopped lending, their steroidal schemes are causing irreparable harm to our cities.

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