A property developer who funded Boris Johnson's election campaign has said that Boris will be good for his business. Micheal Slade, who donated £20,000 to the Mayor, said he welcomed the election result because Boris would be less 'rigid' in regulating the provision of affordable housing, than his predecessor.
The Chief Executive of property development and investment company Helical Bar told Property Week that:
‘For me personally, and for Helical Bar, we would all prefer a Conservative administration in the Greater London Authority and we would hope that a new administration would free up London.'
Helical Bar's website states that their mission is to: 'create shareholder value through a wide variety of high margin activities with property investment at our core.'
For many developers, Ken's requirement that half of all new housing should be affordable, was seriously eating into that margin. So when Boris Johnson pledged to scrap that target, he received a resounding endorsement from many in the business.
At Helical Bar, Michael Slade and his colleague at Nigel McNair Scott donated a total of £30,000 between them to the Back Boris campaign. Questioned about the motivation behind the donations, Slade admitted that it would be seen as an attempt to sway planning policy. He told the Financial Times:
“You do run the thin line of someone saying: I’m only doing this to have access and influence, but that was what politics was always about. It is a little unfair but there must be 20 per cent truth in it.”
So while Slade is surprisingly honest about his intentions, we still do not know if Boris is sincere about providing more affordable housing. During the campaign, Boris suggested that he would be able to provide more affordable housing because the 50% target was deterring developers. But as Slade's comments show, the real beneficiaries of scrapping the target, will be the property developers themselves.
During the election campaign I became increasingly frustrated at how the issue of housing was skirted over in the debates. At hustings after hustings, we heard about Ken and al-Quaradawi and Boris and the BNP. But when it came to what is for many Londoners, the key issue in their lives, the debate was always quickly moved on.
But what is now becoming clear though is that removing Ken's target will only serve to further drive up the cost of housing and to further drive out low earners from London. And as Boris does his favourite 'man of the people' act this week, we should all do well to remember that.