“Nimbies in disguise” are dishonestly claiming to care about architecture when in reality they want to block any development, Boris Johnson has said.
In a scathing assessment, the Mayor of London said homeowners “pretend” they care about new homes being affordable or well-designed, in fact they simply oppose new developments entirely.
Mr Johnson has promised to increase house-building in the capital, and wants to see 45,000 new homes by 2018.
However, he says he his efforts have been frustrated by residents opposed to any new development.
There is a particularly bitter planning fight over plans to build 700 flats on the site of a Royal Mail sorting office at Mount Pleasant, North London. Planning opponents say the scheme is “bland” and too few of the homes are “affordable”.
But Mr Johnson told the BBC: “Very often in London what you see is people objecting to a scheme purportedly because they say it fails such-and-such an architectural criteria, it’s not beautiful enough, or something like that. Or they say there isn’t enough affordable housing.
“I think it is odd that people actually try to stop developments going ahead. I think of the amazing development at Deptford [south east London] – that’s been blocked for twenty years.
“You have a coalition of people who pretend to be in favour of such-and-such a thing – better architecture or whatever – and what they want is no building in their area. You’ve got nimbies in disguise. That is very often the problem.”
Mr Johnson said cautioned wealthy foreigners against treating London property as “bank accounts in the sky”, saying the market is not “a one way bet”.
There are “signs of softening” at the top of the market, he said. The number of vacant properties in the capital is at its lowest level since the 1970s, he added.