Campaigners against plans to build a 20-storey tower on Pope’s Road in central said today (23 May) that the companies behind the plan have missed several deadlines set for them by the Greater London Authority (GLA).
The GLA took over as planning authority for the development after Lambeth council approved the plans in November 2020.
The plans were submitted by the Amsterdam-based company AG Hondo Popes Road BV, a joint venture between a small company, Hondo Enterprises, and the large Angelo Gordon (AG) investment company with its main headquarters in New York.
Earlier this month, a US-based company, AG UK Brixton Fund JV, LP, set up in April 2018, became the sole shareholder of the Amsterdam-based company.
The site for the proposed development remains the property of Sports Direct, whose shop now occupies it. Hondo Enterprises refuses to discuss or explain this anomaly, saying it is a “private” matter.
A five-year loan from Starz real estate to refinance the joint venture purchase of Brixton’s covered markets by Angelo Gordon and Hondo Enterprises will become due for repayment at the end of this year.
Campaigners said Hondo Enterprises and its planning consultancy DP9 had ignored several deadlines around the proposed Pope’s Road development, showing “contempt” for local people.
“The GLA has revealed to Fight the Tower campaigners that Hondo Enterprises ignored a 25 April deadline to consult with local communities around their latest plans for the site, throwing conventions around development planning out the window and the timeline for a decision further down the line,” they said.
Fight the Tower, a coalition of local people concerned about Brixton, said earlier this year that the GLA had been continuously pushing Hondo Enterprises to engage with local people so that it could take revised plans for the development to a public hearing.
A hearing scheduled for June last year was cancelled at the last minute.
A request under freedom of information (FOI) legislation earlier this year revealed that GLA planning officers had recommended rejection of plans for the Pope’s Road development.
Campaigners said Hondo Enterprises had repeatedly ignored instructions to engage with local communities and, instead – nine days after an April deadline, had submitted a “rudimentary timetable” for a “community consultation” this summer.
London mayor Sadiq Khan’s office said this was “insufficient”.
Fight the Tower campaigners said GLA officers disclosed to them at a meeting this month that Hondo Enterprises now has two options: withdraw the application; or go straight to a public hearing, which would consider the application as it was when it was withdrawn in June 2022.
“We call on the mayor to take a stand and reconvene the public hearing with immediate effect. We cannot allow such a waste of public resources in a time like this,” campigners said.
“It will be three years in December 2023 since this application was first approved by Lambeth council.
“By repeatedly allowing Hondo to keep this planning application in abeyance, our communities continue to live in limbo, not knowing what the future will bring for us.
“This process is not fair on locals, it is not fair on the traders in the community whose livelihood is under threat by this project, and not fair on those of us who want to engage with the democratic process in place to have a say in our communities.”